Ever heard of someone say that their Handicap Index is a 7 but it’s trending to a 6? Or something along those lines? A “Trend Handicap” is a common term when talking about your Handicap Index so to ensure you can join in on the convo, let’s make sure you understand its context and how or when it can or can’t be used.
In its simplest form a Trend Handicap is an unofficial estimate of what your Handicap Index could become prior to being reviewed. Remember, the revisions publish on the 1st and 15th of every month so if you have input a handful of scores prior to one of those days you will see what your trend is when you log into the GHIN system (from our page, the SCGA’s page, or the GHIN mobile app). Think of this as a best guess of what your new Handicap Index will be once the revision publishes.
When can you use it?
You are welcome to tell people what your Handicap Index is even if using your trend and many times your trend will match your actual index. It’s great for a casual conversation because if you’re trending down (an 18 trending to a 17 or 16) that would mean that your skill level is improving. If you’re trending up (say a 12 trending to a 14) that would mean that you’re most likely in a slump or have had enough bad rounds lately that your Handicap Index is going to be negatively affected.
When can you not use it?
Due to the fact that your Trend Handicap is not an official representation of your Handicap Index you cannot enter a formal competition and use it to your advantage. When playing in a tournament you will always use your existing Handicap Index regardless of what your trend is. Having a trending upward Handicap Index could help you out in tournament play. Unfortunately there are sandbaggers out there that will purposely try and bump their index up in order to earn strokes during the competition in an effort to take advantage. We are trying to avoid that sort of behavior.
Remember, the Trend Handicap is simply a great sneak peek of what you can expect when revisions do publish but it’s merely a guestimate at best. As you continue to enter scores into the GHIN system you will continue to make changes to your official Handicap Index… but only until the revision occurs.
For more information, please check out Section 2 of the USGA Handicap System manual.
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