Last Updated: 06/16/10

The History of Handicapping, Final Chapter:

Calkins was angered, however, by the USGA's decision to allow clubs to determine their own ratings, calling such a system "a farce" and "useless".

Calkins later made his point; official USGA Course Ratings were issued for the USGA by regional golf associations, just as they are today. By 1914, the USGA rating concept began to dominate articles in the British golf magazines. A rating procedure was developed in both countries by 1925, and a joint Advisory Committee of the British Isles was formed to assign Standard Scratch Scores to golf courses, just as USGA Course Ratings were issued by golf associations to courses in the United States. Today, the men's authority is called the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU).

An early history of handicapping would be incomplete without mention of a form of match-play handicapping now nearly extinct the "bisque". The player who receives strokes in a match today gets the full difference in his handicap from the lower handicap player who plays at scratch. The strokes are allocated to holes in the order they are ranked on the scorecard or allocation table. To play with bisques, the player receiving strokes receives normally only half the difference in handicaps (or as negotiated at the first tee). Instead of receiving them on pre-assigned holes, the player may use his bisques at any time that he chooses, even after a hole has been finished. The use of a bisque then might turn a lost hole into a half or a half into a win, a procedure that certainly adds strategy and gamesmanship to a match.

But the receiver must be careful with his bisques. If he uses them too late, he can lose the match before playing the crucial finishing holes. Bisques are applied only to singles matches and foursome golf; they do not work in four-ball matches.

I hope you have enjoyed this series on the history of handicapping.

History of Handicapping, Part 1

History of Handicapping, Part 2