How do they work out standard scratch? Why is it even there?
For those of us who don’t understand why we have standard scratch here is an overview of why it is implemented:
First of all, standard scratch rather than Par is the measurement with which our handicaps are assessed. The basic reason for this is that some golf clubs with the same par are much harder than others because of the design and features over their 18 holes.
Congu, (the people who make the golf rules we all follow) describe standard scratch as “a measure of the playing difficulty of a golf course for a scratch golfer under normal midseason course and weather conditions”.
A number of factors come into play when deciding this, although course length is the major factor, there are another 10 “obstacle Factors” to consider :
- Green target Recoverability and Rough
- Out Of Bounds
- Extreme Rough
- Water Hazards
- Green Surface
- Physiological Elements
There are a few other factors that can affect the SSS such as: Ball Roll, Wind, Forced Lay-Ups, the number of Dog-Leg Holes and Changes in elevation.
The best way to explain why we use standard scratch is if you consider that par 3’s can be anywhere between 90 and 249 yards and par 4’s can be anywhere between 250 – 500 Yards. If one course has their yardages set at the upper end of these figures and another course has them set at the lower end (with the same overall par) then the longer one will clearly be much tougher.
The competition standard scratch (CSS) is the day to day variation against the SSS. It can range between one below and 3 above the SSS depending on the scores that are returned in the competition. This then takes into consideration the conditions on the day of play, so if the scores are very low then the conditions and the course were “easy” so to speak. Likewise if the conditions are very difficult and the scoring is bad then the course was obviously “tougher” than the standard scratch. This will lead to a fairer reduction or increase on people’s handicaps.