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USGA Celebrates Handicap System Centennial

In the 100 years since the United States Golf Association implemented the USGA Handicap System™ during a meeting at Baltusrol Golf Club on October 11, 1911, millions of golfers of all skill levels have used the system to play millions of matches at thousands of courses around the country.

When the USGA returned to Baltusrol to celebrate the Handicap System Centennial, keynote speaker Michael Bamberger, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, recalled one particular match that took place nearly 20 years ago. He had visited The Greenbrier in West Virginia to interview Sam Snead, who was then in his 80s and was the resort's pro emeritus.

Snead invited Bamberger to a match on the resort's C.B. Macdonald-designed layout, now known as The Old White TPC. Snead was playing to a 4 handicap at the time, and Bamberger, who had a 12 handicap, recounted Snead's gamesmanship and first-tee efforts to negotiate favorable terms for the match.

Despite Snead's efforts, Bamberger made a net birdie on the par-5 17th hole to win the match, and the journalist remembered how disappointed the competitive Snead had been after losing. At Baltusrol, Bamberger marveled at how the Handicap System allowed an average golfer to play a fair match against a legend, one of the best players ever.

The Following links will take you through a four-part series looking at the history of the USGA Handicap System. Part I looks at the roots of the system.

Part 1 – The Roots of the System

Part 2 – Increasing Demand

Part 3 – USGA Leads the Way

Part 4 – Rise of the Slope System