After many months of controversy, debate and “19th hole” banter, Australia’s new Golf Handicapping System is set to get a bit of a facelift, as Golf Australia has released findings from a statistical analysis of the current system, and detailed the steps that will be made in coming months in order to improve the system.

In a recent Memo to Member Associations and Clubs, Golf Australia’s Simon Magdulski hints that there will be a forthcoming announcement prior to the end of May that will outline proposed changes and tweaks to the USGA-based Handicap System. The letter also includes an Appendix which outlines statistical analysis of trends under both the Old and New handicap system.


Here is the letter in full:


Dear All,
I am writing to you to provide an update on developments with the Australian Handicap System. There are two key items I would like you to be aware of.

  1. Golf Australia will be making an announcement prior to the end of May that will outline the Implementation Plan for the new Australian Handicap System. It will list the components of the new system and when they will be implemented. As per the point below re the survey, we are still to make final decisions on daily course rating and the regulations surrounding the use of non-competition cards and information received from the survey will be used in this process. The Implementation Plan will include advice on when decisions regarding these two items will be finalised and, if applicable, when they will be implemented. Although I don’t wish to pre-empt the announcement in May, I do want to give an assurance on three key points on which we have received consistent feedback:
    1. Firstly, an adjustment to the 10 of 20 calculation method will be addressed as a matter of priority and will be implemented within the next few months.
    2. Secondly, the Slope Indexing System will be included in the Australian Handicap System.
    3. Thirdly, the regulation which requires the conversion of Stroke rounds into Stableford scores for the purposes of entry into a player’s handicap record will be included.
  2. SURVEY – [Note: A number of officials within each club will have access details for the survey. We ask that your club’s response be provided by the designated person.] GA’s consultation program with clubs and Member Associations is continuing. As promised GA is giving all clubs and Member Associations the opportunity to provide input into some key areas of the handicapping system via a survey. Please note the survey will focus primarily on two key areas requiring resolution, namely daily course rating and handicapping of non-competition rounds. The survey will be conducted on-line, closing at midnight on 11 June 2011. Access details for the survey website have been sent directly to clubs.

We hope this helps. Please contact me if you have any queries.

Kind regards,

Simon Magdulski
Manager – Rules & Handicapping

In addition, the letter included a statistical analysis conducted over the past few months in relation to competition patterns and handicap trends:

Appendix #1
Statistical Analysis

GA recently commissioned a statistical analysis of handicap and competition trends under both the ‘Old Handicap System’ and the ‘New Handicap System’.

The key findings of the statistical analysis are:


  • The scores required to win competitions, or to win prizes (eg balls) in competitions, vary depending on the field size.
  • Under the New System, the low marker finds it harder to compete as the field size increases.Under the New System, the field size value at which a low marker is disadvantaged is about 50for men, and 100 for women. Low markers do still compete and are winning competitions in very high field sizes, but as the field size increases the bias becomes more and more unfavourable for the low markers and favourable for the high markers.
  • Under the New System the most frequent winning score for field sizes of between 6 and 10 is 37 points. As the field size increases this steadily rises to 43 points.
  • Under the Old System, there was a significant advantage to the low markers, which actually grew with field size.
  • Under the Old System, the high markers were disadvantaged so they won far fewer competitions than their representation in the field. Many of them were chronically playing at handicap levels far in excess of their playing handicaps. Essentially this was due to the uneven way that differentials were applied. Handicaps for high markers only “eased out” by 0.1 stroke for a poor round, no matter how poor, but they were tightened far more quickly if the player had the occasional good round.
  • Has there been any ‘settling down’ in the period since the New System was introduced on 9 April2010? No, there is no significant variation between the month-on-month distribution of handicaps in the months following the introduction of the New System.

Read the Full  Report here or visit the GA website


About Richard Fellner

A four-time winner of the Australian Golf Media Awards, including Best Photojournalism, Best Opinion, Best Column and Best Photographic Presentation, Inside Golf Group Editor Richard Fellner is the quintessential Golf Tragic, having played the game for over 50 years (but has never gotten any better!) He has played and reviewed courses all over the world, and has interviewed many of the great players of the game (including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Greg Norman). Richard is a member of both the Australian Golf Media Association and the Golf Society of Australia, and has been a featured guest on many Australian "sports talk" radio shows and networks, including ABC Grandstand, SEN 1116, Melbourne Talk Radio 1377, 2GB and others. Follow Richard Fellner on Quora


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2 Responses to "Australian Golf Handicap System to undergo changes"

  1. Jamie  May 5, 2011

    Hopefully some changes can take place sooner than later.. as a low marker (+1) the hopes of ever scoring 45-48 points to win a local club comp is just impossible.

    I really hope that GA gives ALL golfers a chance at winning our local comps as this current system is so advantagous to the higher markers 10-18 that its virtually unreachable especially as we have field sizes between 80-100 each week.

    The sooner some changes are made the better… especially as this current system was designed for STROKE play only.. where picking up your ball cause you wont score just doesnt happen when you would score a 7-8-9 on a hole if it was stroke… hence allowing low markers to make up shots on those holes…

    Bring on the change ASAP i say…

  2. Pingback: New Golf Handicapping system formula announced : Inside Golf. Australia's Golf News Leader

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