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Difference between GHIN and other USGA approved handicap services.


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I'm totally confused about this. I guess there is Type 3 Internet Based Golf Club now that can give you a USGA approved handicap that can be used in tourneys. Is this correct? Are there big differences between using an internet service and paying a course to be able to enter your handicap and have a GHIN #? If you join an internet service can you really use the handicap to play in tournaments? Do you have to do anything other than join the internet service and enter your scores to be able to use the handicap for tournaments? Confusing.

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[quote name='tsmithers' timestamp='1376955070' post='7708376']
OK, so the $15-20 a year internet services are OK and will work if I enter a tourney?
[/quote]

Yes. I do my handicap online through Golf Handicap Network and haven't had any problems playing in tournaments.

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GHIN is a specific handicapping service, not an official handicap. Technically the handicapping service is irrelavant. You could keep your score in an Excel spreadsheet and apply the proper handicapping formulas/controls and it could be considered an official handicap. The thing that makes a handicap official is whether or not the club you belong to is licensed to issue official handicaps. Again, your club could keep their scores on paper and calculcate handicaps on paper and they could still be official without the use of any software service. GHIN just happens to have a monopoly on providing handicapping services to almost every state, so they have become the de-facto handicap standard, but they are in no way the only option to get an official handicap. The way it works in most circumstances is that each state is an "authorized state golf association". These state golf associations have the power to license golf clubs to use the USGA handicapping system. Most golf clubs belong to their state golf association because 1.) they want to support the state golf association, 2.) it saves them money on course rating fees, and 3.) membership in the state golf association confers usage of the USGA handicapping system. However, a golf club doesn't need to be a part of a state golf association. Any golf club (even a type 2 or 3 club formed with you and some friends, or people on the internet) can obtain a license to use the USGA handicapping system directly from the USGA. It's quite simple actually. All you have to do is pass a simple handicapping test, form a "Handicap Committee" in your club, and have at least 10 members. There are some other compliance issues, but those are the main things.

There is no such thing as an "official handicapping service". Rather, the burden of becoming licensed to issue official handicaps lies with the individual clubs (which is why most clubs just become a part of their state golf association because then they are automatically made official). You should be able to find a record of any licensed club here: [url="http://www.usga.org/HDCPClubLic/search.asp?Auth=Y"]http://www.usga.org/HDCPClubLic/search.asp?Auth=Y[/url]. Similarly, if you want to find if a player has an official handicap, you need to figure out which club they belong to and look up that club using the link above. The problem is that there are MANY services out there that claim to offer an "official handicap", and you may be able to get away with using it in tournaments if the tournament organizers are lazy and don't do their due diligence, but that doesn't mean it really is official. It's kind of silly because any of these services can compute a handicap perfectly, but it's a simple matter of compliance that makes it official or not. Further compounding the issue is the fact that in order for a club to be licensed (through a state golf association or directly through the USGA), the members [b]must[/b] play regularly together. That's where the problem comes in with all these type 3 clubs. People think that because a club is type 3 that it means they can just sign up for a service and get a handicap without ever playing with anyone else in the "club". That is absolutely false. If you join an Internet-based "handicapping service" that doesn't organize regular events for its members then they cannot issue official handicaps. Services like that are unfortunately a dime-a-dozen and none of them will give you an official handicap, no matter what they claim. One big caveat is that most state golf associations have "E-clubs" that are exactly what I just described, yet they are able to get away with issuing official handicaps to their members because they are a state golf association affiliated club, which I think is absolute garage. The state golf associations shouldn't be able to get away with having "E-clubs" that issue official handicaps without the club members ever having to play together. Peer review is the cornerstone of the handicapping system, and the fact that state golf associations can use their power to create "E-clubs" that go against the spirit of the very handicapping system is a travesty.

TL;DR: Pretty much the only way to get an official handicap is just to join a golf club. You cannot get an official handicap from most software services that you can sign up for. GHIN is a piece of software for state golf associations, not for clubs or individuals, so you cannot sign up for GHIN directly. Same goes for most "official" handicapping services. What makes GHIN "official" is the fact that it is a piece of software for state golf associations, which themselves are already official licensed to issue handicaps.

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thejusme, thanks for the detailed review. I was recommended to join Diablo Golf. Here is an excerpt from their website FAQ. Thoughts?
[color=#000000][size=3][b]
DiabloGolf USGA Golf Handicap Information[/b][/size][/color][color=#000000][size=3]
We are excited to announce that DiabloGolf members will now have the opportunity to join DiabloGolf’s New USGA Conforming Golf Clubs. We have worked hard to provide our members with this enhancement to make the #1 Golf Handicap App for smartphones even better. Our new clubs will offer golfers more flexibility in the events they can play and are recognized nationwide by the USGA.

DiabloGolf and the USGA have issued the following statement.

[i]The USGA and XYZ Media, Inc., the owner of DiabloGolf (http://www.diablogolf.com), have amicably resolved a lawsuit and beginning in March 2013, DiabloGolf will be creating Type 3 Internet-based golf clubs (as defined in the USGA Handicap System Manual) with the ability to issue a USGA Handicap Index to qualifying club members. Qualifying club members may use a valid Handicap Index in the manner set forth in the [url="http://www.usga.org/Rule-Books/Handicap-System-Manual/Handicap-Manual"]USGA Handicap System Manual[/url].[/i]

Going forward, our Recreational Handicap will no longer be offered. It is the USGA’s decision that Recreational Handicaps not be offered with our USGA Conforming Golf Clubs. As a result we will now be following the USGA handicap formula to compute your handicap index. You can read the USGA Handicap System Manual [url="http://www.usga.org/Rule-Books/Handicap-System-Manual/Handicap-Manual"]here[/url].

[b]Score Minimums[/b]
The USGA requires a minimum of five scores to be entered before providing any handicap index.

[b]Revision Dates[/b]
The USGA Handicap Index is reviewed and revised at predetermined dates (1st & 15th of each month). The DiabloGolf recreational handicap updates with the entry of each score.

[b]Conforming Golf Clubs[/b]
The USGA requires that the USGA Handicap Index be issued by a conforming Golf Club. DiabloGolf automatically places members into the clubs that are within 50 miles of them.

[b]Peer Review[/b]
The USGA Handicap Index requires that members of the conforming Club have "reasonable and regular opportunity to play together". A handicapping committee reviews all scores, members playing at least 3 scores with other members, and members playing in at least 1 club-sponsored events per year. It also requires all members to provide the Club with proof of identification.[/size][/color]

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Not sure how they meet the peer review. Our state golf association will allow you to join the association and then assign you to a local club that has signed up to allow it. Our club was signed up for this some years ago and I didn't know it until I saw some strange names showing up that I didn't recognize posting scores on line. I talked to the state association and they said if we weren't comfortable with it they would assign the people to a different course. When I asked about peer review they didn't have an acceptable answer.

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[quote name='GaHack1' timestamp='1377046937' post='7716102']
Not sure how they meet the peer review. Our state golf association will allow you to join the association and then assign you to a local club that has signed up to allow it. Our club was signed up for this some years ago and I didn't know it until I saw some strange names showing up that I didn't recognize posting scores on line. I talked to the state association and they said if we weren't comfortable with it they would assign the people to a different course. When I asked about peer review they didn't have an acceptable answer.
[/quote]

I'm looking at this because I want to start playing in some tournaments. I think the best thing for me to do is join the CT state am association. They will do just that. Assign you to a local course, I know which one they would most likely place me at, and I can enter scores at the course or online. The tournaments sponsored by the CT am association will not accept anything other than a GHIN index and you need to be a member of the association to play. With the membership you get an GHIN handicap so that is probably what I will end up doing.

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  • 4 months later...

I joined DiabloGolf just about a year ago now and the app and support have been awesome. I play a lot of club tournaments and I have never had a problem using my DiabloGolf handicap. I've only found a few courses where the information was out of date and DiabloGolf updated the information within hours of me telling them. Seems like they have a good product and are a lot more official than the other apps and handicap platforms. I will be renewing next month for another year.

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I'm the handicap chairman of a Type 3 club.

I was asked to do this for a local club from a member of the Maryland State golf Association, even though I was already a member of a type 1 club. So, I went through the steps with the USGA, and the club got approved.

They were adamant that I inform the club of the playing requirements (I put them below).

The club was set up late last year, and I don't know how it's going to go. I don't know anyone in the club. I don't know why I was asked. I don't know why anyone even wanted the club to exist. I sent what was (IMO) a pretty stern letter to the club saying that I was doing this from a purely volunteer perspective and didn't have anyone's back if they went somewhere and sandbagged a tournament. I'm not going to let my name get besmirched.

I was asked to do this, and I've had no follow up contact with anyone. I kind of expected to hear, "a bunch of us wanted this club set up so we could get handicaps. We'll organize a couple events, etc etc." but I've heard nothing. I have one guy who is a 1.4 and my first thought when I saw 1.4 was "he just wants to play in a qualifier" which is another issue, but that might just be me being suspicious.

If anything interesting happens this year with it, I'm sure I'll post something here about it.

Anyway, these are the requirements from the USGA Handicap Manual.

[color=#333333]"Playing Requirements and Club Size" (applies to Type 3 only) [/color]

[color=#333333]The USGA will consider the playing requirement met if each member returns at least three scores played with other club members during the season, and at least one of those rounds is played in a club-sponsored event. Anyone not meeting this minimum requirement should be dropped from the handicap roster. [/color]

[color=#333333]A golf club's size is limited: If membership in a club exceeds the number of available tee times offered in club-sponsored events, the playing requirements are not being met. For example, if a club has 200 members and conducts only eight organized events with a maximum of 15 players each, not all members will have played in a club sponsored event (8 x 15 = 120, not 200 or greater). [/color]

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Our course uses GHN.

One neat report I looked at last night showed a summary by hole of my scores on my home course for each of the last two years: average, average over par, most per hole and least per hole. Pretty cool. Surprising that one of the holes that should be one of the easiest is apparently one of the most difficult for me. Fun to have access to the summaries, all available for each course played.

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[quote name='thejusme' timestamp='1377018353' post='7713144']
GHIN is a specific handicapping service, not an official handicap. Technically the handicapping service is irrelavant. You could keep your score in an Excel spreadsheet and apply the proper handicapping formulas/controls and it could be considered an official handicap. The thing that makes a handicap official is whether or not the club you belong to is licensed to issue official handicaps. Again, your club could keep their scores on paper and calculcate handicaps on paper and they could still be official without the use of any software service. GHIN just happens to have a monopoly on providing handicapping services to almost every state, so they have become the de-facto handicap standard, but they are in no way the only option to get an official handicap. The way it works in most circumstances is that each state is an "authorized state golf association". These state golf associations have the power to license golf clubs to use the USGA handicapping system. Most golf clubs belong to their state golf association because 1.) they want to support the state golf association, 2.) it saves them money on course rating fees, and 3.) membership in the state golf association confers usage of the USGA handicapping system. However, a golf club doesn't need to be a part of a state golf association. Any golf club (even a type 2 or 3 club formed with you and some friends, or people on the internet) can obtain a license to use the USGA handicapping system directly from the USGA. It's quite simple actually. All you have to do is pass a simple handicapping test, form a "Handicap Committee" in your club, and have at least 10 members. There are some other compliance issues, but those are the main things.

There is no such thing as an "official handicapping service". Rather, the burden of becoming licensed to issue official handicaps lies with the individual clubs (which is why most clubs just become a part of their state golf association because then they are automatically made official). You should be able to find a record of any licensed club here: [url="http://www.usga.org/HDCPClubLic/search.asp?Auth=Y"]http://www.usga.org/...arch.asp?Auth=Y[/url]. Similarly, if you want to find if a player has an official handicap, you need to figure out which club they belong to and look up that club using the link above. The problem is that there are MANY services out there that claim to offer an "official handicap", and you may be able to get away with using it in tournaments if the tournament organizers are lazy and don't do their due diligence, but that doesn't mean it really is official. It's kind of silly because any of these services can compute a handicap perfectly, but it's a simple matter of compliance that makes it official or not. Further compounding the issue is the fact that in order for a club to be licensed (through a state golf association or directly through the USGA), the members [b]must[/b] play regularly together. That's where the problem comes in with all these type 3 clubs. People think that because a club is type 3 that it means they can just sign up for a service and get a handicap without ever playing with anyone else in the "club". That is absolutely false. If you join an Internet-based "handicapping service" that doesn't organize regular events for its members then they cannot issue official handicaps. Services like that are unfortunately a dime-a-dozen and none of them will give you an official handicap, no matter what they claim. One big caveat is that most state golf associations have "E-clubs" that are exactly what I just described, yet they are able to get away with issuing official handicaps to their members because they are a state golf association affiliated club, which I think is absolute garage. The state golf associations shouldn't be able to get away with having "E-clubs" that issue official handicaps without the club members ever having to play together. Peer review is the cornerstone of the handicapping system, and the fact that state golf associations can use their power to create "E-clubs" that go against the spirit of the very handicapping system is a travesty.

TL;DR: Pretty much the only way to get an official handicap is just to join a golf club. You cannot get an official handicap from most software services that you can sign up for. GHIN is a piece of software for state golf associations, not for clubs or individuals, so you cannot sign up for GHIN directly. Same goes for most "official" handicapping services. What makes GHIN "official" is the fact that it is a piece of software for state golf associations, which themselves are already official licensed to issue handicaps.
[/quote]

fabulous explanation… thanks for taking the time

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