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Bowling Handicaps: Leveling the Playing Lane
Bowling fosters friendly competition between newbies and semi-pros alike. Learn how you can democratize your game with Groupon’s study of bowling handicaps.
Ordinarily, a bowler with a killer strike shot wouldn’t think of competing with one who sighs with relief when he knocks down a single pin. But if you throw handicaps into the mix, the odds get a lot more interesting. Common in amateur leagues and tournaments, bowling handicaps can make for fairer competition between bowlers of any skill level. Although most bowlers don’t use handicaps outside of official events, casual bowlers playing three or more games can apply handicaps to spice up the competition between novices and those who took their bowling ball to prom.
To determine your handicap, you must first know your average—usually calculated over your first three games. Then, you subtract your average from the basis score, which is a predetermined number designed to be higher than most individual averages. Most leagues use a basis score of about 200, so if your average score were 110, you’d end up with 90 after this step. The last step is to multiply that number by the agreed-upon handicap percentage, which usually ranges from 80 percent to 100 percent. (The higher the percentage, the more level the playing field is between bowlers.) If you use a 90 percent handicap in this example (90 multiplied by 0.9), your handicap will be 81, meaning you’ll add 81 pins to every game you bowl. Players with higher averages will have lower handicaps, making the competition more even. Although your average will fluctuate as you bowl more games, the basis score will remain unchanged, just like the satisfaction of wiping the smirk off that stubborn seven-pin’s face.