If you have a USGA handicap, then you should know that there is a maximum score you can take on each hole of a golf round — at least as it counts toward your handicap index. It’s a concept known as Equitable Stroke Control, and it’s designed to keep players of all skill levels honest about their rounds.
The idea behind Equitable Stroke Control is that, depending on your skill level, there’s a maximum score you can take per hole of your round that counts toward the score you enter for handicapping purposes. ESC is designed to prevent golfers from tanking holes in their round so as to elevate their score, or allowing a blow-up hole to distort a round that otherwise would be reflective of a player’s skill level.
That means, depending on your handicap index, you only take a certain score per hole. You can figure out your maximum allowed score by taking your USGA handicap index, multiplying that by the course you’re playing’s slope rating, then dividing it by 113. That gives you your Course Handicap. Based on that, you then know your maximum allowed score per hole, for handicap purposes, on the tees you’re playing at a specific course.
This is all usually figured out after the round, unless it’s on a familiar course.
Maximum score per hole allowed under Equitable Stroke Control
- If your Course Handicap is 9 or less, then your maximum allowed score is double bogey
- If your Course Handicap is 10-19, then your maximum allowed score is a 7
- If your Course Handicap is 20-29, then your maximum allowed score is an 8
- If your Course Handicap is 30-39, then your maximum allowed score is a 9
- If your Course Handicap is 40 and above, then your maximum allowed score is a 10