Handicap Systems

Click on the Golf Association to see its Handicap System

USGA
CONGU
EGA
RCGA
AGU (Golf Australia)
SAGA

Player’s Handicap
The handicap is a numerical measure of an amateur golfer’s playing ability based on the tee played on a certain course. It represents a golfer’s potential to hit a gross score above a pro scoring. It allows players of different level to play fairly against each other. The lower the handicap, the better the golfer is.
A golfer whose handicap is zero is a called a “scratch golfer”. A golfer whose handicap is around 20 is called a “bogey golfer”.
It is possible to have a handicap below zero, called ‘plus’ handicap. A player with ‘plus’ handicap must add his handicap to his score at the end of the round.
Professional golfers have no handicap, they play off scratch.

Handicaps are, typically administered by Golf Clubs or National Golf Associations following a system to determine player’s handicaps for each tee on any course of any Golf Club member.
The official handicaps vary from country to country as well as the rules to determine them.

Course Handicap or Playing Handicap
Is the number of strokes to be deducted from the golfer’s score to determine the net score on the round. Certain Golf Associations call this number Course Handicap, other call it Playing Handicap.
The Course Handicap or Playing Handicap, is calculated with a formula that takes the Player’s Handicap, applies the course rating for the tee to be played and considers also the type of game: Match play or stroke play, and other options like foursome, greensome, etc.

Course rating
Golf courses difficulty vary from one to another. Every Golf Association has a course rating system to consider the factors that impact in the difficulty of the golf course. When a golfer plays in a course receives a handicap adjusted to its difficulty and may get extra strokes for a difficult course or take away strokes on an easier course.

Handicap Systems
Golf Associations use different Handicap Systems to calculate Player’s handicaps, Course or Playing Handicaps, as well as Course ratings.
Following sections explain the Handicap Systems used by the main Golf Associations and that are implemented in Golf My Rounds.

USGA Handicap System

The Golf Association of the USA, USGA, was founded in 1894 and since 1911 has developed and maintain the USGA handicap system. In 1979 started a research and after a decade of intensive analysis established a more accurate system with new handicap formulas and golf courses rating.

The USGA Handicap System is based on:

Course Rating: is a number generally between 67 and 77 that measures the average score by a scratch golfer on that course.
Slope Rating: is a number between 55 and 155 and measures the relative difficulty for a bogey golfer compared to the Course Rating. 113 is the neutral value.

Handicap index: is the Player’s Handicap based on the average of the best 10 of the last 20 rounds played. It is expressed as a number taken to one decimal place (e.g. 21.6).

Course Handicap: is the number of strokes a player receives from a specific set of tees at the course being played to adjust the player’s scoring ability to the level of a scratch golfer. It is calculated with the following formula:

Course Handicap = (Handicap index x Slope Rating)/113

The result is always rounded to the nearest whole number (0.5 is rounded upwards).

Handicap Allowance: is the percentage of the Course Handicap recommended for a handicap competition. Allowances vary for different forms of competition and are designed to produce equitable competitions.

The Course Handicap is used to determine on which holes a player or team is granted extra strokes. The way the extra strokes are granted depend on the type of game played (Match Play, Stroke Play, etc.).

Net Score: is a player’s score after handicap strokes have been substracted from the player’s gross score. A plus handicap player adds handicap strokes to the player’s gross score to yield a net score.

Net Score = Gross Score - Course Handicap

In order to adjust the Handicap Index of a player, the USGA do the following procedure:

First calculate the Equitable Score Control (ESC) which is an adjustment of individual hole scores setting a maximum number that a player can post on any hole depending on the player’s Course Handicap.

Then calculate the Handicap Differential with the following formula:

Handicap Differential = (ESC - Course Rating) x 113 / Slope Rating

Considering the lowest Handicap Differentials from the last rounds, the player becomes the Handicap Index as an average of them multiplied by 0.96.

If you are interested and want to know more visit www.usga.org

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CONGU Handicap System

The Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) is the authorising body of the official handicap for golfers resident in Great Britain and Ireland. CONGU uses the Unified Handicapping System(UHS).

The CONGU Handicap System is based on:

Standard Scratch Score (SSS): is the score that a scratch player is expected to return in normal mid-season course and weather conditions over a Measured Course.

CONGU Handicap: is a handicap allotted and adjusted by the Home Club of a Member in accordance with the requirements of the UHS.

Exact Handicap: is the Player’s Handicap. It is expressed as a number taken to one decimal place (e.g. 21.6).

Playing Handicap: is the Exact Handicap rounded to the nearest whole number (0.5 rounded upwards).

Competition Handicap Allowance: is the CONGU Handicap adjusted, where applicable, for the competition type, and the course and set of tees over which the competition is played.

Net Score: is a player’s score after handicap strokes have been substracted from the player’s gross score. A plus handicap player adds handicap strokes to the player’s gross score to yield a net score.

Net Score = Gross Score - Playing Handicap

In order to adjust the Exact Handicap of a player, the CONGU do the following steps:

First calculate the Competition Scratch Score (CSS) which is a procedure employed on the day of the competition to quantify the influence of course and weather conditions on the scoring ability of the field and regulate adjustments to handicaps accordingly.

Then calculate the Stableford Adjustment to limit the maximum score that can be recorded at any hole to double bogey.

Finally you get the Nett Differential between the Net Score after the Stableford Adjustment and de CSS. If the Nett Differential is less than zero, the Exact Handicap is reduced by an amount per stroke below zero. If the Nett Differential is above a tolerance called Buffer Zone, the Exact Handicap is increased.

If you are interested and want to know more visit www.congu.com

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EGA Handicap System

The European Golf Association (EGA) has developed a Handicapping System which takes concepts from the USGA Handicap System and others from the CONGU. Mainly, EGA Handicap System follows the USGA course rating rules and the Handicap adjustment model of CONGU.

The EGA Handicap System is based on:

Course Rating: is a number generally between 67 and 77 that measures the average score by a scratch golfer on that course.

Slope Rating: is a number between 55 and 155 and measures the relative difficulty for a bogey golfer compared to the Course Rating. 113 is the neutral value.

Exact Handicap: is the Player’s Handicap. It is expressed as a number taken to one decimal place (e.g. 21.6) and represents the relative golfing ability of the player on a course of standard relative playing difficulty (Slope Rating of 113).

Playing Handicap: is the number of handicap strokes a player receives for a specific set of tees at the course being played. It is expressed as a whole number (0.5 rounds upwards) using the EGA Playing Handicap Formula:

Playing Handicap = Exact Handicap x (Slope Rating / 113) + (Course Rating - Par)

Handicap Allowance: is the number of handicap strokes a player receives in a handicap competition. It is the percentage of the Playing Handicap determined by the Committee.

Net Score: is a player’s score after handicap strokes have been substracted from the player’s gross score. A plus handicap player adds handicap strokes to the player’s gross score to yield a net score.

Net Score = Gross Score - Playing Handicap

In order to adjust the Exact Handicap of a player, the EGA do the following steps:

First calculate the Computed Buffer Adjustment (CBA) which is a procedure employed on the day of the competition to quantify the influence of course and weather conditions on the scoring ability of the field and regulate adjustments to handicaps accordingly.

The CBA modifies the Buffer Zone and in consequence adjusts the Handicap reductions or increments according to the course and weather conditions of the day of competition.

Calculate the Stableford Points achieved with the Score and get the difference to 36. If the difference is less than zero, the Exact Handicap is reduced by an amount per stroke below zero. If the Nett Differential is above a tolerance called Buffer Zone, the Exact Handicap is increased.

If you are interested and want to know more visit www.ega-golf.ch

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RCGA Handicap System

The Royal Canadian Golf Association (RCGA) uses a Handicap System similar to the USGA Handicap System but with some specific issues.

The RCGA Handicap System is based on:

Course Rating: is a number generally between 67 and 77 that measures the average score by a scratch golfer on that course.

Slope Rating: is a number between 55 and 155 and measures the relative difficulty for a bogey golfer compared to the Course Rating. 113 is the neutral value.

RCGA Handicap Factor: is the Player’s Handicap. It is expressed as a number taken to one decimal place (e.g. 21.6) and compares a player’s scoring ability to the scoring ability of a Scratch Golfer on a course of standard difficulty.

RCGA Course Handicap: is the number of handicap strokes a player receives for a specific set of tees at the course being played. It is expressed as a whole number (0.5 rounds upwards). It is calculated with the following formula:

Course Handicap = (Handicap Factor x Slope Rating)/113

Handicap Allowance: is the percentage of the Course Handicap recommended for a handicap competition. Allowances vary for different forms of competition and are designed to produce equitable competitions.

Net Score: is a player’s score after handicap strokes have been substracted from the player’s gross score. A plus handicap player adds handicap strokes to the player’s gross score to yield a net score.

Net Score = Gross Score - Course Handicap

In order to adjust the RCGA Handicap Factor of a player, the RCGA do the following steps:

First calculate the Equitable Score Control (ESC) which is an adjustment of individual hole scores setting a maximum number that a player can post on any hole depending on the player’s Course Handicap.

Then calculate the Handicap Differential with the following formula:

Handicap Differential = (ESC - Course Rating) x 113 / Slope Rating

Considering the lowest Handicap Differentials from the last rounds, the player becomes the Handicap Index as an average of them multiplied by 0.96.

If you are interested and want to know more visit www.rcga.org

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AGU Handicap System

The Australian Golf Union (AGU) merged in 2006 with Women’s Golf Australia to form Golf Australia. Among others, Golf Australia is responsible for governing the Australian Handicap System.
Golf Australia has adopted a Handicap System based on the USGA Handicap System with some specific issues. The Slope System has been adopted on 23/1/2014.

The AGU or Golf Australia Handicap System is based on:

Scratch Rating: is the evaluation of the playing difficulty of a course for a scratch golfer. It follows the same rules as the Course Rating in the USGA Handicap System. The Scratch Rating is expressed as strokes taken to one decimal place. There are different Scratch Ratings for Men and Women.

Slope Rating: is a number between 55 and 155 and measures the relative difficulty for a bogey golfer compared to the Course Rating. 113 is the neutral value.

GA Handicap: is GA’s (Golf Australia) assessment of the relative golfing ability of a player on a course with a neutral Slope Rating. It is expressed as a number taken to one decimal place and is determined in accordance with the GA Handicap System.

Daily Handicap: is the number of strokes a player receives for play at the course being played. The Daily Handicap is expressed as a whole number. It is calculated with the following formula, rounded up:

Daily Handicap = (GA Handicap x Slope Rating)/113

Daily Scratch Rating (DSR): is the Scratch Rating of a course adjusted to account for variations experienced on a given day to the conditions which are normally experienced at that course.

Net Score: is a player’s score after handicap strokes have been substracted from the player’s gross score. A plus handicap player adds handicap strokes to the player’s gross score to yield a net score.

Net Score = Gross Score - Daily Handicap

In order to adjust the GA Handicap of a player, the AGU (Golf Australia) has introduced the Stableford Handicapping Adjustment (SHA).

For handicapping, all eligible scores must be adjusted to, and processed as, Stableford scores (with 100% of the applicable Daily Handicap to be used). The purpose of this regulation is to:

  • Reduce the effect of high hole scores for handicap purposes in order to make handicaps more representative of a player’s potential ability.
  • Make all handicaps as equitable as possible by using a uniform score type for all handicapping.

If you are interested and want to know more visit www.agu.org.au

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SAGA Handicap System

The South African Golf Association (SAGA) and Women’s Golf South Africa (WGSA) use their own system called the SAGA Handicap System. Recently (October 2013) they have announced that they have signed an agreement with the USGA to license their golf course rating system. They are now rating the courses for the 19 handicap player (slope) and will decide whether to adopt the full slope system or not.

The SAGA Handicap System is based on:

Standard Rating: is the standard rating for a course, or set of tees, and is a whole number derived from a combination of the standard length rating and applied difficulty factors. It represents the typical score a scratch golfer is expected to achieve, above or below the par for the course or set of tees.

Handicap: is the number of strokes a player receives to adjust their inherent scoring ability to the common level of scratch golfers.

Handicap Allowance: is the portion of the handicap usable in a given form of play.

Playing Handicap: is one that has been adjusted to a whole number or the appropriate fraction if the format of competition requires that an allowance be applied. If no allowances are required, then the Playing Handicap is the Handicap.

Net Score: is a player’s score after their Gross Score has been adjusted by their Playing Handicap.

Net Score = Gross Score - Playing Handicap

In order to adjust the Handicap of a player, the SAGA do the following steps:

Calculate the Adjusted Gross Score which is obtained by applying a limitation on hole scores depending on the handicap of the player. The maximum score on a hole for handicap purposes is 2 over par except where a player has two handicap strokes on a hole, in which case the maximum score allowed is 3 over par for that hole.

Calculate the Handicap Differential with the formula:

Handicap Differential = Adjusted Gross - Standard Rating

Considering the lowest Handicap Differentials from the last rounds, the player becomes the new Handicap as an average of them multiplied by 0.96. It is rounded to the nearest whole number (0.5 round up).

If you are interested and want to know more visit www.saga.co.za

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