This month we look at some of the most common handicap queries that we receive from golfers. Remember, you can look up the full list of FAQs on our website.
Q: What is the time limit for the entering of scores?
A: All scores must be submitted as soon as possible after the round has been played and before the next round is played. If a score has not been entered within 72 hours of the completion of the round then the system will allocate a penalty to the score entered by the player. The period of 72 hours is taken from 21h00 on the day of play to 21h00 three days later. The system will show a N/A Handicap Index if there are two scores that have not been entered.
Please note that the onus is on the player to make sure that their scores are recorded successfully. They can check by visiting their 'Handicap Record Sheet'. If a score doesn't show here, then it hasn't been entered successfully and it will have to be resubmitted.
Q: What is the difference between my Handicap Index and my Course Handicap?
A: The Handicap Index is an indication of your potential as a golfer. The Course Handicap is the handicap you will use when playing from a selected Tee (colour course) at a particular club – calculated by taking the Slope (relative difficulty when compared to a scratch golfer) of the course into consideration.
Once you have selected which course (Tee) you are going to play, the Course Handicap is obtained from the Mobile App, the HNA system (website or terminal) or, where neither is available, from the Course Handicap Conversion Tables at the club.
Q: Can men and women play off the same tee and compete?
A: Absolutely – this is one of the reasons why the system has been introduced. There are no Men’s, Senior’s or Women's Tees anymore. Instead, we now refer to the various courses by the colour of the tee. All the tees have been rated for Men, while only certain tees have been rated for Women.
Q: How does the course's Slope Rating make things fairer? A: The Slope of the course is calculated by comparing how hard the course plays for a higher-handicapped golfer when compared to a scratch golfer. So, if the course has a Slope higher than 113, then the Course Handicap will be relatively higher for a high-handicapped golfer than a lower-handicapped golfer.
For example, if the White Tees are harder than the Blue Tees, a high-handicapper may play the White Tees off a handicap of 28 and the Blue Tees off 24. (He gets four more shots for the harder course). The low handicap player may play the White Tees off 4 and the Blue Tees off 3. (He only gets one shot more for the harder course).
Q: What do I enter if my round is cancelled (because of bad weather, for instance)? A: This is dependent on how many holes you have played. If none, or fewer than nine holes, then you just enter a 'No Return' (NR) on the system, which will have no effect on your Handicap Index.
If you have played more than nine holes but fewer than 14 holes, then just enter a nine-hole score. If you have played 14 or more, but fewer than 18, then you can enter par for each unfinished hole plus any handicap strokes you were entitled to receive for the holes you did not play.
For example, if your Course Handicap is 18 then you would enter a one over par for each of the holes you did not complete – and enter an adjusted gross score by adding up the completed holes and par plus strokes for the holes not played.
Q: I've played very badly of late but my Handicap Index is not moving out. How can that be?
A: The important thing here is that your worst differentials aren’t considered in your Handicap Index calculation, only your 10 best differentials are (while the 10 worst ones are disregarded). This means that it's quite normal if you play a number of bad rounds to not see a change in your Handicap Index.
Q: That's all good, but how is it possible that a very bad score has caused my Handicap Index to come down instead of go out?
A: It is rare, but this does happen. You need to compare the differential you entered with the differential that you have knocked out of your Handicap Index calculation – in other words the 21st most recent. In all likelihood, the new differential is better than the old one.
You may also have unknowingly received a penalty for not entering your score within the prescribed time limit.
Q: I'm tired of seeing the same winners at my club every week. How is the handicap system set up to curb handicap manipulation?
A: Cheating is a concern, but it is important to understand that the handicap system is not designed to, nor can it ever, stop cheating. The only people who can stop the cheats are their fellow club members and their golf clubs, which must take disciplinary action.
The South African handicapping system is based on the USGA one and is aimed at the majority of golfers, who are honest. It would be excessive to change the entire system to try and eliminate cheating by a small minority of golfers.
A key way to combat cheating is for clubs to open all rounds on the system when players check in. This ensures that all players have to enter scores, or face a penalty. The scores of all players with a handicap are available for everyone to see on the system. Peer review is a critical element in reducing handicap manipulation, as anyone can check on a suspected cheat to see what score was entered.