Handicap system in the future

Handicaps News 
June 2019


Dear Golfer,

This month we launch a series of newsletters explaining the changes that will be introduced as part of the adoption of the World Handicap System.

In this newsletter we cover the reasons for the change from using the average of the best 10 of the last 20 handicap differentials, multiplied by 0.96 (a 4% reduction), to the best 8 of the last 20, as well as the changes to acceptable scores for a valid handicap score.  


Calculating your differential:
Currently we follow the USGA in using the best 10 differentials ((Adjusted Gross Score – Course Rating) x 113/Slope) from players' last 20 differentials, multiplied by 0,96. This will change on the 1st October to the best 8 Differentials from the last 20, with no reduction. The reason for this is that after studying millions of records, it was clear that by using the best 8 differentials out of the last 20 and dropping the 4% reduction, handicaps proved more equitable across all forms of play. 

Using the best 8 scores would also drop the Handicap Index quicker for golfers having a good run of form and it would move out more slowly for those having a bad patch. We all know that this cycle seems to be part of the game, even for professional golfers, but it does not necessarily mean that the ability of a golfer has changed.

Obviously there are long-term improvements and deteriorations, and these will be reflected in the golfer’s Handicap Index, but it’s the short term fluctuations, as well as making competitions more fair, that will be better managed by using the average of the best 8 score differentials out of the last 20 scores entered.

Acceptable scores for handicapping purposes:
Currently all rounds that are played should be entered on the HNA system, excluding the scores as listed in Section 5.7 of the GolfRSA Handicap Manual, as shown below.

Scores Not Acceptable:
a) When the score cannot be ratified by a playing partner or competitor
b) When the types or number of clubs are limited (as in a competition in which only iron clubs are allowed)

c) When the round played includes the use of “Mulligans”
d) Competition Match Play rounds
e) When more than one ball is used at a time
f) When the course played is not officially rated, including when a course is set up much longer or shorter than the Average Playing Length when the rating of the course was determined

g) When the player uses non-conforming clubs, balls or tees or, with respect to Rule 14-3 (Rules of Golf), where an artificial device is used in the execution of a stroke or when equipment is used in an unusual manner during the execution of a stroke

Many countries currently don’t allow match play or betterball formats for handicap purposes. The reason is that when playing match play and betterball formats, players often take different decisions to those during stroke play, depending on what their partners or opposition are scoring on a particular hole. In South Africa, and many other countries including the USA, both betterball and match play scores must be entered for handicap purposes. The reason for this is that, under an averaging system, the more rounds that are entered the more representative the players handicap is likely to be of their ability.

If in a match play competition the players walk off after completing the match and before playing the full 18 holes, they should enter par plus any handicap strokes they have on the remaining holes, as per section 8.3 in our current GolfRSA Handicap Rules, which can be viewed here. This will be the same under the World Handicap System Rules and will be further covered in later communications.

The following will be acceptable scores under the World Handicap System Rules:

  • Golfers must play the round in accordance with the Rules of Golf
  • The round must be played on course with a current Course Rating and Slope Rating
  • At least nine holes must be completed
  • A marker must be present
  • It must be in an authorised format of play (which includes all current formats of play and all match play rounds)

We welcome any questions you may have so please don’t hesitate to email us at editor@handicaps.co.za for any handicap related queries.

Quote of the Month

"The only time my prayers are never answered is on the golf course.” – Billy Graham

Swing easy!
The Handicaps Team

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