Professional golf can be a lucrative profession for the few who are good enough to play on the PGA Tour. In 2011, for example, Luke Donald led all Tour players with $6,683,214 in earnings, according to the PGA Tour’s website, while 89 players earned at least $1 million. Players earn money based on their performances in Tour events; the higher a player finishes, the more money he earns. The formula for distributing a non-major tournament’s purse is set by the PGA Tour.
In the Stableford points system of scoring, a player's score is based on points earned rather than the number of strokes taken, according to PGA pro Mark Blakemore. Under the Rules of Golf, points are earned relative to a “fixed score,” usually par. Finishing any hole two strokes over the fixed score -- a double-bogey if the fixed score is par -- earns no points. A bogey earns one point and par earns two points. The maximum score is six points for shooting 4-under par on a hole, but that will not occur unless the player receives a handicap stroke. Combining handicaps with the Stableford system requires simple math.
When the best players in the world have trouble calculating yardages at altitude, you know it's not easy. The ball flies farther at high altitudes: The air is less dense, so there is less friction to slow the orb's forward motion. At the U.S. Senior Open in 2006 at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs -- about 6,500 feet above sea level -- great players found themselves perplexed. "I'm a little bit confused on the distance I'm hitting the ball," Tom Watson told "Golf Digest." Bernhard Langer found the temperature changes throughout the day compounded the problem.
Official golf handicaps are issued through the United States Golf Association. First, golfers must submit scores through a USGA-licensed golf club, which typically uses a handicap computation service -- often via computer -- to determine your handicap index. To check your golf handicap, most golf courses offer an online database that players may log onto or post handicap charts on a bulletin board. You may also use the USGA formula to check your handicap yourself.