I don’t worry about the par on the scorecard anymore. The truth is that it’s not really relevant. When I got back into golf 3 years ago, I was about a 26 handicap. Back then it was really not relevant.
As I get closer and closer to becoming a scratch golfer it will become more relevant but for now not worrying about it has been tremendously helpful in lowering my handicap from 26 to my current index of 9.3.
What I do care about is my personal par. The course I play has rating of 71.7 and a slope of 129. In my book that makes it a nice test. It’s not the most challenging course I play, but it’s not the easiest either. My course handicap based on the above numbers is 11. Therefore my personal par is 83. However my goal is to shoot my index or 2 strokes less. Meaning I’m satisfied with an 81 (-2) , but I want a 79 (-4).
Why I use a personal par?
Personal par allows me to gradually move to the actual par on the card as my skill improves. Without it, it’s very frustrating to look at your scorecard and think, “what an awful day, I shot 11 over par. I’m a terrible golfer.” With a personal par that conversation changes to, “Ok, not bad. I shot par. Next time I’m going one under!” However it gets really exciting when I shoot an 81. “Sweet, I shot 2 under. Awesome. Let’s get that down to 3 or 4 under. Yeah!” As my index drops, so does my personal par. An it’s even more exciting when I shoot a 77. “Holy cow! I shot 6-under. Awesome!!!!” Therefore as long as I keep improving, I’m always facing a new challenege. Something interesting also happens when your index drops. You find that a hole that you used to get a shot on, you no longer get that shot. It makes you play that hole a little bit differently, but it doesn’t change every hole right away. Therefore it’s a new challenge, and that’s pretty exciting.
Why it Works
It takes the pressure off. Starting out you’re not likely to hit a lot of greens in regulation. That is very frustrating. With your personal par some par 4s become par 5s and usually some longer par 3s become par 4s. Taking the pressure of reaching those in 2 or 1, actually makes it more likely that you will reach them in regulation. You won’t over swing as much, you’ll make better contact, and you will hit more greens both in standard regulation and of course in your regulation.
Another reason it works is that unless you’re a scratch golfer or close to it, you’re game is so different that it’s not even fair trying to compare them. Measuring your results against a score card designed for a scratch golfer is downright frustrating when you’re not a scratch golfer. But some of you are thinking, “Won’t this lead to complacency and mediocrity?” No. It won’t. It won’t because it becomes addictive to score par, even if its your par. You’ll want to do it again and again. And that encourages you to practice. To take lessons, or to just get better. As you see your personal par go down, that also motivates you to do better.
How to Do It
“So how do I go about using this wonderful personal par?”
- Get a handicap. You’ll need your index to calculate it.
- Figure out your course handicap based on your index and slope rating for the tees that you play. Use this calculator.
- Add your course handicap to the par on the scorecard.
- Add strokes to each hole based on the handicap rating for each hole. If your course handicap is 18 each hole will get a stroke. If it’s 11, only the 11 hardest holes will get a stroke.
- Enjoy the round.
If you have a sky caddie, they have upgraded their software to caluculate “My Par”. It rocks.