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It's In the Cards!

By George SchisslerArticles by George Schissler

In all card games it is great to get an assist.

Blackjack players for instance count the cards received by players on their right to estimate the odds of receiving a winning card. A gambler may receive a card which is not helpful, but the golfer on the other hand receives a card which always supplies useful information and that of course, is the scorecard.

Golf is the only game I am familiar with where a card can lower the odds and offer the player a better chance of experiencing a winning day. Don’t worry about hearts, spades or diamonds—it’s a game where only the clubs count—golf clubs that is. There is certainly a bit of luck in every game of chance and I consider the game of golf my game of chance.

But like the deck of 52 there are good and not so good (golf score) cards. Some cards deal only with the hole-by-hole score and do not list many of the advantages which inform the player of where to aim on the fairway; where the water and sand hazards are located or when an out-of-bounds comes into play.

Here are some of the other things that a good score card will contain to aid the golfer gain a better understanding of the course layout:


A good card will clarify that distances to the green are either to the front or middle of the green and where markers in the fairway citing distances are located.


Depending on your handicap check to see which holes grant you that all important extra shot and in which order they may be taken.


Out of Bounds are usually defined by white stakes and which holes carry an out of bound penalty.


Even if you abide by strict USGA rules it may be to your advantage to check the card for “local” rules which allow free drops, etc.; which golf’s governing body does not.

The most informative golf score card I have ever seen was more like a book. It is the card of the Golfanlage Schmittenhohe in Zell Am Zee-Kaprun, Austria. It was a 46 page (24 pages of advertisement) hole-by-hole explanation marking all hazards, their distances and even where the next tee was located. Unfortunately it was printed in German and it was of little use to me when I played. My score was forgettable, but at least I didn’t get lost.

There are several helpful bits of information which may or may not be contained in the course information supplied on the score card, but if available, players should check carefully and take advantage of the opportunities which may help them to post lower scores. A few of them are:

Course Rating: Every golf course receives both a USAA Course and Slope Rating for each set of tees that is rated. The rating established for the scratch golfer is knows as the Course Rating. There is also a rating for the bogey player and this is known as the Bogey Rating. Course Rating informs the scratch golfer how difficult the course will be.(All bogey golfers know that ALL courses are difficult and most of the information contained on the card will be of little help.)

Slope Rating: This is an evaluation of the relative difficulty of a course for players other than scratch. These ratings are vital in calculating a person’s handicap for that particular course (course handicap). Slope Rating also indicates to bogey golfers how difficult the course will be. The minimum slope is 55 and the maximum is 155. Slope rating for a course of average difficulty is 113.

Green Speed: One of the most significant aspects of a golf course is the uniformity of its greens and specifically their speeds. To measure the speed of a green superintendents use a device called the Stimpmeter which was invented in 1935 by Edward S. Stimpson. But what is a Stimpmeter? The device is simply an extruded aluminum bar 36 inches long with a V-shaped groove its entire length. Now this gets a bit more complicated but essentially what is done is to place a ball 30 inches from the tapered end (tapered flat so that the ball does not gain any speed as it exits the bar) and next the bar is raised to an angle of approximately 20 degrees. The ball which is held at the 30 inch length by a pin is released and rolled down the device and the distance it rolls on the green is measured. Three balls are rolled down the Stimpmeter and the distance they roll is measured. There are other factors figured into the reading (it is a five step process) but the desired end result is to allow players to putt with all greens having a fairly uniform speed.

Surely all golfers want to take advantage of every possible helping hand. Maybe checking the score card before playing will result in your placing smaller numbers in the little boxes.




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