Numbering systems and indexes are commonly applied in golf. The stroke index is one of the popular methods that is used in competitions which is related to the handicap. In the official game, a committee is responsible in managing the Handicap Stroke Table. This is where the order of holes where the handicap strokes are provided. In the table, the list of stroke indexes of every hole is provided usually between 1 and 18.
What does it entail?
There will be a unique stroke index on every hole which is listed on the scorecard and it is commonly referred to as the handicap (hcp). The common practice here is to deduce the player’s handicap from the gross score through a standard strokeplay match. However, it would not be possible to determine which handicap to use when competition is to win the individual holes. This is where stroke index comes into play and it is very crucial to understand this in order to improve your game.
The difficulty of each hole
Calculating stroke index can be quite challenging. Contrary to popular beliefs, the stroke index does not necessarily rank the difficulty of the holes. That said, it does give some indication of the level of difficulty on each hole which could be a sound way of preparing before you hit the ball. Basically, the stroke index works hand-in-hand with the handicap. If you have a 14 handicap, you would need to minus 1 shot from your gross score where the holes have been given a 14 stroke index. In situations where your handicap is above 18, you might come across certain holes that you can deduct more than one shot.
During match play, the stroke index is usually spread evenly so that there are provisions for handicap throughout the course like allocating odd stroke index numbers to the harder or longer part of the course. The even stroke index numbers can be allocated to the easier part. Usually, holes 1 and 18 are not included in the first 8 while the first and second stroke index holes are the ones around the middle of the nine. Meanwhile, the first 6 strokes are also not used to be played to the adjacent holes while the seventh and tenth stroke index holes are allocated where the player does not get 3 consecutive holes when receiving 10 strokes.
Here, the handicap strokes from the player’s score are deducted using the order of the stroke index from 1 to 18. If the player has a handicap of 12, he would be given a stroke deduction based on the stroke index of 1 to 12 while one with more than 18 (for example 24) would get all the 18 holes with an additional of 6. This means he will get 2 additional strokes, one at 1 to 6 and the other at 7 to 18.