One of the greatest things about golf is that, thanks to the handicap system, players of widely differing skill levels can engage in competitive matches with one another. By allowing less accomplished players to subtract a certain amount of strokes from their score (thus eliminating the better player's advantage) a 26 handicap, for instance, can play against a five-handicap and have an equal chance of winning.
At your home course, it's pretty easy to determine how many strokes you are either giving to, or receiving from, your playing partners if everyone actively tracks their golf handicap. All you need to do is check the golf handicap printouts in the clubhouse or use the standard golf handicap formula (a quick-reference conversion chart usually hanging somewhere in the locker room makes this easier).
Everything changes, however, when you're on a golf vacation, because a person's golf handicap is based on the slope rating, or difficulty, of the course being played. So, more accurately, what's important is everyone's "course handicap," and the opportunity to pick up a stroke here or there isn't lost on anyone, especially during competitive buddy trips. In fact, the haggling over who gets how many strokes becomes a full contact sport that often starts at dinner the night before the group steps onto the opening tee. continued...
By: David Baum of GolfVacationInsider.com