GolfCap, your personal handicap caddy

User guide for Android


Welcome to GolfCap. If your’e an avid golfer, you probably know how complex the handicap system is and just how many numbers go into determining your golf handicap. That’s where GolfCap comes in. It helps you track your golf handicap correctly and calculates all of the numbers involved so you’re free to enjoy your game. As for the numbers, there are 9 that relate to a single round of golf:

  1. Your Prior Handicap Index. This is the number that most people think of as the Handicap. It's a measure of your potential score over par on a course of average difficulty on a good day. For example, a golfer with an 18 handicap index will likely shoot bogey golf.
  2. The Course Rating. A measure of how hard the course is for a par golfer. It is provided for you on your score card.
  3. The Slope. A measure of how much harder the course is for a bogey golfer than it is for a par golfer. It is also listed on your score card.
  4. Your Course Handicap. This number determines how many strokes you’ll reduce your score by on a particular course if your’e playing competitively with handicap scoring. It allows golfers of different abilities to compete against each other fairly, and varies with every round of golf you play. It is calculated from your handicap index and the slope. Even if you aren’t playing with handicap scoring, you’ll need to know this number because it’s used to calculate number 5...
  5. Your Maximum Strokes Per Hole. This is how the handicap system prevents blow up holes from over-inflating your handicap index. When reporting a round’s score to the handicapping system, it must be adjusted so that no hole’s score exceeds this number. If you don’t have this number calculated correctly with each round, you can easily record the wrong scores to your handicap.
  6. Your Score. The raw, unadjusted score you shot on a round. For example, if you shot a 12 on one hole after going out of bounds a couple of times, it is, unfortunately, a 12. It’s the score that counts in competition.
  7. Your Adjusted Gross or "ESC" Score. Your score after knocking down your blow up holes to your maximum, from step 5. If your max per hole is 8, for example, that 12 from going out of bounds gets reduced by 4, as does your total adjusted score for the round. This is the score that counts toward your handicap index. (FYI: ESC stands for Equitable Stroke Control.)
  8. Your Differential. This is the fairest measure of how you played a round. It’s takes into account your adjusted score and the rating and slope of the course to come up with an adjusted over par number. It takes your current skill level and the course’s difficulty into account, so a high score on a brutally tough course can have a much lower differential than a low score on a course with few hazards.
  9. Your Handicap Index. This is your new handicap index as a result of this round. It is also the number that will be used as your prior handicap index (number 1 above) for the next round that you play.

Again, all that is for a single round of golf. The handicap index in item 9 is calculated as a function of up to 20 of the past differentials, where the system choses a number of your best rounds depending on how many you’ve played total. It’s not the easiest system to get right without help.

GolfCap helps keep all of this straight on your mobile phone, which you’ll probably have with you on the golf course. It calculates what it can right there on the spot, and helps with the steps you have to do by hand. You’ll get instant feedback while still on the course, so you’ll know how your current round effects all your numbers. GolfCap can give you an unofficial handicap index for your own personal use, or help you make sure your official handicap is correct. It also provides you with useful graphs of your progress as a golfer.

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When You First Launch GolfCap

When GolfCap is first launched, it displays a welcome screen that lets you navigate to the most common functions when you're just starting out.

GolfCap welcome screen

To get started you will need to add as many of your old scores as you can. This may sound daunting, but GolfCap has a trick to speed up text entry for golf courses that you played repeatedly. Ideally you would enter at least the past 20 rounds to get the most accurate results. If you don't have any of your old score cards, you can just wait until your next round of golf and start building up a handicap index from there. Adding rounds is described in the next section.

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Adding a New Round

To add a new round, either press the "Add a new round" button on the Welcome screen, or press the Menu key then "Add a New Round". This brings up the Golf Round Editing screen:

Edit a Round screen shot

At the top of the screen, you'll find "Your prior handicap index" (item number 1 from the list in the introduction). This section of the screen will display more of your handicap related numbers as they become available. Initially the handicap index shows a blank symbol, "--". Technically, you do not have a handicap index until after you have submitted 5 scores.

Select the "Golf Course Name" field under the heading "Course Information" and enter the name of the course, including the name of the 18 holes you played if the course is larger than 18 holes (for example, "Torrey Pines South Course"). On future uses of this screen, when you start typing in this field a list of courses you have already entered with matching first letters will display below making this step faster for courses you play more than once.

Select the "Tees" field. Since the rating and slope of a golf course is different for each tee box, it is important to record from which tee box you played this particular round. When you start typing in this field, it will bring up a list of common tee box colors that match the first letters you typed:

Tees screen shot

Select the name of the tee box you played if it appears in the list, or enter a new tee box name in the text field. Note that any custom tee box names you enter by hand will appear in this list in the future to speed up entry. For example, you might play a course with Burgundy or Platinum tees frequently (as opposed to the usual Red, White and Blue), so these tee box names will continue to appear in your list.

Enter the "Course Rating" and "Slope" (items 2 and 3 from the introduction) in the next two text fields. These values can be found on the scorecard.

At this point the information at the top of the screen will be updated to reflect your "Course Handicap" and "Max Strokes Per Hole" (items 4 and 5 from the introduction). You'll need this information for the next step.

Select "Score" under the "This Round" section. Enter the raw score that you recorded on the score card (item 6 from the introduction).

Using the information provided by the "Max Strokes Per Hole" at the top of the screen, reduce your score by the number of strokes over max you shot on any holes this round. Select "Adjusted (ESC) Score" (item 7 from the introduction) and enter this number.

If the round you are entering was not played today, set the "Date Played" to the date this round was played, to the best of your recollection. The date doesn't have to be exact, but historical rounds do need to be in the correct chronological order. Once you go above 20 rounds played, the oldest rounds will no longer be used in calculating the handicap index. If the dates aren't exactly right but are in the right order, the correct round will fall off the back.

At this point, the "Differential for this Round" is calculated for you (item 8 from the introduction) and appears in the top section of the screen. In order to commit these changes, hit the Back button. If at any point you want to cancel entering this round, hit the Menu button and select "Cancel Edits".

Once a round of golf is committed, the new handicap index (item 9 from the introduction) is displayed at the top of the List View screen. After entering your first round, this will display as a blank symbol “--” and will remain blank through your first 4 rounds. Once 5 rounds have been entered into the system, a number rounded to the nearest tenth will appear here.

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List View of All Rounds

Most commonly you will want to view the List View of all your golf rounds. All of GolfCap's features can be reached from this one screen. You can add new rounds, edit existing rounds, look at the numbers discussed in the introduction for any particular round, and view charts of your scores, differentials and handicap index over time. Here's what the List View looks like for someone who usually shoots in the 90's in the Portland, OR area:

List View screen shot

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Entering Scores on a Course That You Have Played Before

Most people have a home course where they play most often, or a handful of local courses that they play repeatedly. GolfCap makes it easy to record scores at courses you've played more than once.

Just as when you record a score at a course for the first time, from the List View screen hit Menu and select "Add a New Round". When you start to type in the "Golf Course Name" entry field, you will be presented with an alphabetical list of all courses (with tees, rating and slope) that you have played before that match the first letters you typed:

List of Courses screen shot

Select the matching row, and all the information for this golf course (tees, rating and slope) will be filled in for you. All you have to do is enter the "Score", "Adjusted (ESC) Score" and "Date Played" and you're done.

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On the Golf Course, the Day of an Actual Round

Now that you've recorded all your historical rounds of golf, it's time to take GolfCap onto the course.

When you get to the course, grab a score card, hit Menu >> "Add a New Round" from the List View screen and enter the "Course Information" section of the Golf Round Editing screen. It will tell you your "Course Handicap" for this round, which you will need on the first tee if you are playing competitively with handicap scoring. It will also tell you your "Max Strokes Per Hole", which you can make a note of on your scorecard so you can keep both your raw score and adjusted score if you like. Press Back to commit the course information.

At this point, the newly created round of golf will be color coded in red in the List View:

Incomplete Round Screen shot

This is to remind you that the information for this round is incomplete. It's supposed to be incomplete, because you can't know on the first tee what your final score will be.

When you complete your round, you can enter your score right there beside the 18th green and see immediately what the differential for this round is and, after pressing Back to commit the scores, see what your new handicap index is. In the List View, this round will no longer be red, but instead will be color coded to show if this is a "good" round, or a "not-so-good" round.

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Optional Notes and Stats

Starting with GolfCap version 2.2, you can enter optional information about each round of golf.

The optional information will show up on the List View. The stats will appear below the score in color coded icons: from left to right, Fairways in orange, Greens in Regulation in green, Chips in yellow, and Putts in blue. Additional, the trend of your stats can be viewed in the Charts.

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Color Coding in the List View

Golf rounds will be displayed in the list view in one of four colors. The color of the background tells you how that particular round factors into the handicap index calculation. Those colors are:

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GolfCap provides charts to let you see how your scores and handicap index have progressed over time. The charts can be reached from the List View screen by pressing Menu and selecting "Show Charts".

When the phone is held in portrait view, the top of the screen provides a selector of the different charts available. A miniature version of the graph appears below the selector.

Chart Portrait screen shot

In order to view the graph in full size, simply turn the device to landscape:

Chart Landscape screen shot

Version 2.2 of GolfCap sports 10 different charts, most of them involving the new optional stats. All charts show the actual data either solid or dashed, plus the trending average in a fainter, dotted line.

In all charts involving "Differentials", your "good" rounds (the differentials that are used in the calculation of the handicap index) are marked with a circle. The "not-so-good" rounds (those that are thrown out of the calculation) are marked with an "X".

Also note in all charts the data are displayed from most current on the left to least current on the right, which is different from most graphs that show time progressing from left to right. It is displayed this way because the most recent information is the most important so appears first. If more than 20 rounds of golf have been recorded, the older rounds that are not used in calculating the handicap anymore are off the screen to the right. You can view them by scrolling the graph right to left. Another thing that is opposite of most charts is that "good" is toward the bottom of the chart. This is because in most cases in golf, a smaller number is better. However, higher numbers for Fairways and Greens in Regulation should lead to lower scores, so for those stats the higher numbers are toward the bottom of the chart.

When you are done viewing the charts, you can dismiss them and return to the List View screen by pressing the phone's Back button.

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Exporting and Importing Your Rounds

(This feature is part of GolfCap version 2.0 and higher.)

GolfCap provides an Export/Import feature to allow you to share your rounds of golf across more than one device (eg. your phone and your tablet). The feature is email based, so an Export of your golf rounds can also serve as a data backup in your email inbox.

In order to Export your golf rounds, press Menu, then select "Export Rounds". This will bring up an email client with the Export of your rounds pre-populated as the message of the email. All you have to do is supply the "To:" recipient of the email, most likely yourself, and hit send.

Importing golf rounds is a little trickier. It's necessary to copy the contents of an Export email from the Mail app, then paste it into the Import screen in GolfCap. First, launch Mail and display the message containing your Export. It will have the subject heading "GolfCap Export". Touch anywhere in the message of the email for a couple of seconds, and it display the copy swiper. Drag the pins marking the ends of the copy swipe to the very beginning and end of the email message. Some newer Android devices have a "select all" feature that you can use instead of dragging the pins across the message.

You may receive import emails in one of two different formats.

In the older format, the message should start with a date in "yyyy-mm-dd" format (eg. 2012-03-08 in the figure below), and end with the tag "<-=GolfCapEnd=->" Make sure you highlight from the start of that first date to the end of the "<-=GolfCapEnd=->" tag.

In the newer format (version 2.2 and beyond), the message will be in JSON format and will start with a square bracket and a curly brace "[{", and end with the same pattern reversed, "}]". Make sure to highlight from the opening brackets to the closing brackets.

Once the whole message is highlighted, press "Copy". The images below show the older format. Your email may look different.

screen shot of starting to copy an export

screen shot of finishing copying an export

Once the contents of the Export email are in your device's clipboard, launch GolfCap and navigate to the Import screen by pressing Menu, then selecting "Import Rounds". Press your finger in the text area below the label "Paste Export Email Here:" for a couple of seconds. This will bring up a button to Paste the contents of the clipboard. Hit "Paste", then hit "Done". GolfCap will return to the List View screen with all the golf rounds from the Export email added to your list. GolfCap does its best to merge the data on the Importing device with the data from the Export and resolve duplicate golf rounds. In rare instances, there may be conflicts that the app will not catch. It is always best to do a spot check after an Import and make sure everything looks correct.

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Questions, Comments, Bug Reports, Suggestions

Please let us know how you feel about GolfCap. If there is a problem, please let us know and we'll fix it in the next update. If you love GolfCap, we like hearing that too (and we'd appreciate your ratings in the Android Market!). You can contact us on our contact page.

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