It's In the Cards!
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
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
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
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.