The USGA handicap system refreshed two days ago (it does every two weeks here in the US) and mine dropped to an all-time personal low of 7.4. I was expecting a bit of a drop, but was surprised that it fell that far. Getting to mid-upper single digits had me wondering where I stacked up to the rest of the golfers who keep a handicap in the US. I found a page on the USGA.org site with a percentage breakdown of all golfers in the US. Here is the breakdown:
16.24% of all golfers in the US are a 7.9 handicap or lower. That means that with a 7.4 index, 15% are at my level or better and with 26 million golfers registering a handicap in the US there are about 3.9 million male golfers at my index or lower.
This is a good news/bad news scenario. On the positive side, half way through my first year of actually playing full rounds with a full set of clubs I have gotten down to a level that 1 out of 6 golfers reaches. I know I had practiced the short game for more than a year before really starting rounds and that helped a ton, but the full-set rounds have only been since December 29. On the negative side, there are still 3.9 million men who are between me and the goal of earning a PGA Tour card. I’m not daunted by this, just looking forward to future improvements and whittling that number down to a more manageable chunk. The day that I break through the 4 handicap level there will be approximately 5 percent of golfers on my plain. Getting down to a 1 handicap will put me along the side of 1.25 percent of golfers. These are exciting numbers to shoot for and look forward too. For the time being, I’m happy to have equaled the level of the better 3.9 million golfers in the US.
This number-thinking has me wondering how someone like me would stand up in a competition like the US Open going on right now. I’ve always thought it would make professional sports more interesting if you had an average person out there competing with the pros. Put your typical “swimmer for exercise on the weekends” guy in the lane next to Michael Phelps in the Olympics or my (or anyone’s) brother versus Lebron in a one-on-one basketball match. These kinds of additions to competition would make it clearer how amazing the pros really are. In the same way, having someone like me play Olympic during the actual US Open with a huge crowd and all of the distractions the players have to deal with would highlight just how tough these courses are. Take a 7.4 handicapper who shoots around 80 on local courses and drop him into this. Would he/I be able to shoot mid-80s? Or better? Perhaps the pressure would cause a 100+ meltdown. Hard to say, but it would be entertaining and paint a clearer picture of just how difficult these courses are and how good these guys are.
It’s probably not going to happen, but if there is a US Open contingent reading this blog, I officially volunteer to be the “average Dan” volunteer to play in next year’s Open. :)