You may have heard some club golfers talk about the ‘Buffer’ or the ‘Buffer Zone’ in relation to their most recent medal round – but what is it and what does it do?
The best way to think of the Buffer Zone is as a cushion that lets a player’s nett score exceed the Competition Scratch Score without the player seeing an increase to their handicap.
The extent of the buffer varies according to the player’s handicap category. There are six different handicap categories and they are adjusted as follows:
If a player’s nett score lies above the Buffer Zone – after adjustments for any nett double bogeys have been applied – their handicap goes up by 0.1. If it falls between the CSS and the Buffer, it is unchanged. If it comes in below the CSS, their handicap gets cut.
Let's put that into practice...
John Smith plays off five and shoots a gross 77, with no nett double bogeys, which results in a nett 72.
The CSS for the day was calculated at 71.
The Buffer Zone for a Category 1 golfer such as John, who plays off five, is the CSS + 1 stroke, which makes 72.
In this example, there is no need for an adjustment to John’s handicap as his nett score lies within the Buffer Zone.
One more time...
David Jones plays off two and shoots a gross 76, with no nett double bogeys. That gives him a nett 74.
The CSS for the day was calculated at 72.
The Buffer Zone for a Category 1 golfer such as David, who plays off two, is the CSS + 1 stroke, which makes 71.
In this example, David’s nett score lies above the Buffer Zone, which means his handicap is increased by 0.1.