GOLF AUSTRALIA has released a list of the major components comprising the national golf handicapping system.

In a letter to Club captains on June 1, Golf Australia Chairman John Hopkins summarised the work done to date on the new GA Handicap System, and outlined the components of what is yet to be implemented. No firm dates or deliverable timelines were set, with only an estimate of “the latter part of 2013” given as a date for full implementation of the system.

“We have spent the past 18 months analysing all concepts contained in each of the major handicap systems in operation around the world,” the letter explains.” These systems include the European Golf Association Handicap System, the Council of National Golf Unions (i.e. British) Unified Handicapping System, and the USGA Handicap System. Along with some unique regulations of our own, we have identified those concepts we believe to be most consistent with the Australian golf culture and preferences. Our development process has also incorporated an ongoing program of extensive statistical analysis, as well as live trialling of the new Daily Scratch Rating system within a diverse sample of clubs across Australia.”

The letter then details the major components of the new GA Handicap System:

Already in Effect

  • Best 8 of 20, multiplied by 0.93
  • Anchor
  • Immediate updating of handicaps
  • No lapsed handicaps

Yet to be Implemented (click here for a full explanation of each)

  • DSR (Daily Scratch Rating)
  • Slope System
  • SHA (Stableford Handicapping Adjustment)
  • Handicapping of Conforming Social Scores
  • Handicapping of Four-ball scores (will be similar to current regulations)
  • Changed 9-hole regulations (9-hole score to be automatically held in GOLF Link for combination with next 9-hole score)

According to Hopkins, the next stage in the implementation pathway is to work with GOLF Link and each of the Tier 3 providers to establish all software change requirements in detail, which will be a significant and complex project. Completion of this stage will enable the GA Board to sign off on the new handicap system’s complete regulatory framework.

“We currently estimate that the new GA Handicap System will become fully operational during the latter part of 2013,” Hopkins wrote, stating that a firm date cannot be set until the mapping work with GOLF Link and the Tier 3 providers has been completed. The letter did state that further details about the final implementation date for the new handicap system will be made available in October.

“Whilst construction of a complete new handicap system is a significant undertaking, GA had initially anticipated an earlier implementation. Our priority however is to ensure an appropriate level of live trialling and statistical work is performed in order that we deliver to our constituents the most effectivesystem possible and in a cost efficient manner. We believe it would be contrary to the interests of Australian clubs and golfers to compromise on these objectives.”


Click here for a full explanation of the components

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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10 Responses to "Golf Australia outlines components of new handicapping system"

  1. Kevin  June 4, 2012

    Two comments, firstly, how is GolfLink to know that a score sent to them is a nine hole score? Some of the players at my club only make between 15 and 20 points in an 18 hole round.
    Secondly, I believe the anchor point method of policing scores should be changed to a six month period rather than twelve to allow for greater seasonal changes that occur in Australia

  2. Jamie  June 18, 2012

    Will any of the new implements change the scoring that is currently still happening..
    As a scratch marker i constantly find to win my local comp i need to score 43-44-45 points
    which would mean i am expected to score -7-8-9 under par (keeping in mind i am not professional but i am a worker who plays golf on weekends)

    Since this currently system has been in place its very rare to see a scratch marker win any local comps at all..

    Is this what the system was designed to do?

    I thought it was about making it more level playing field… how many pro’s shoot 7-8-9 under par each week?

    The current system really doesnt bring the medium to higher handicappers IN quick enough..
    and during stableford where they would normally get that 8-9 shot on a hole.. they pick up and only lose 2 points… very hard to make up any shots when they dont really lose any for BAD mistakes?

    I will be very interested in hearing responses from GA this time as any time I have previously asked these questions i have been ignored… hopefully something has changed and they will actually respond to their members?? after all.. isnt they WHO they work for when its all said and done?

  3. Tony  July 4, 2012

    The SHA will mean alot of work for club handicapers as STB for each hole needs to be calculated as the total stroke score being converted would add no value. The ESC is a mucg easier system, the only thing to check is how many bogeys/double or triple bogeys the player is allowed.
    I have played under the ESC system in NZ and it is a very simple system to adminiter.

  4. Geoff  July 9, 2012

    My understanding of the SHA is that it is just the ESC by another name (again). To calculate the differential, a gross stroke score is needed using the stableford conversion (as with ESC)to determine the limit of a high stroke score.
    A computer would do this adjustment before being sent off to Golflink.

  5. Joan  July 12, 2012

    I don’t like the DSR.
    Why should I be penalised just because everyone else can’t hit the ball on that day.

  6. Stuart Heidenreich  August 2, 2012

    Can this handicap system get any more complicated or absurd? How can a player score 32 points and subsequently lose 0.4? It has happened to me a number of times. As a try-to-play once a week golfer my highest score since October 2011 has been 37 points, with two 35’s and one 34, and quite a lot in the 20’s. I played extremely poorly for nine consecutive rounds with no handicap change, then boom…1.4 shots back in one go! and it is still 0.2 lower than October 2011! (my first round of the last twenty)

    I distinctly recall the main reason for the change from the reliable CCR system was so that handicaps would reflect a golfers current level of play, and that if a player recorded a once in a lifetime round, their handicap would revert to its true level far quicker. Well, any fool should have known that the changes would result in most handicaps increasing. It certainly was considered by my playing partners, who knew precisely how many shots they would get back weeks before the implementation. Yet only a year after introduction someone at GA says oops… we made a boo boo, so we need to tinker with it so that handicap increases will slow considerably and therefore do not reflect a persons current level of play; and while we are at it, we may as well limit how much a handicap can go back each year. Now, the latest changes look remarkably like a CCR method, only far more complicated.

    We have gone from a fair and easy to calculate system to one that is complicated and unfair. All it does is force players to be very aware the impact an individual round will have on their handicap, because as I have found, not playing to your handicap may result in a reduction. Playing poorly and needing to wait two or three months for any increase in handicap, then receiving large increases in one change is not a sensible or desirable system. It simply forces handicap manipulation on people who would not normally consider such behavior.

    Bring back the CCR! and if GA want to do something that will really even out the perceived advantage high handicappers have over low handicappers, bring back the old 3/4 handicap method for stableford and par events!

  7. Jamie  August 7, 2012

    its good to see someone else out there is thinking about how this handicap isnt working!!
    At my course, week in, week out, you have to score over 42stableford points usually by a 16+ handicap player…
    As a scratch marker, i find it frustrating to say the least that Golf Australia expect a AMATEUR golfer who plays once a week is expected to score 6-7-8-9 under par to win a club comp and even full time pro’s struggle to shoot scores like that a few times a year… BUT HEY…. THIS SYSTEM IS FAIR?????

    COME ON GOLF AUSTRALIA… start listening to the players out there… we are the ones who PAY to play the game and would like a CHANCE to win SOMETIMES!!!!

    Why cant we just go back to the OLD SYSTEM….. at least it was FAIRER… maybe needed a tweak.. but SO SO SO much more fair!

  8. thommo  August 22, 2012

    Surely your club would have A-B-C grade comps. If he’s getting 42points and 16 handicap and your getting say 36 off scratch, you would be winning your A grade comp and he would be winning the B grade comp…

  9. Jamie  January 14, 2013

    Just had a interesting chat with our handicapper at the club.
    With the new system coming into play (marking down to stableford for handicapping off a stroke round)
    it seems that the ammount of stroke round we are now going to be playing has been halved due to the time involved in going through every players card and adjusting scores for handicapping…..

    Is this yet ANOTHER over sight for this failing handicapping system…?????

    PS to those who still think this is right.. look at the results from the last GOLFLINK RACE SERIES from heritage GC where 2 players ended on a count back for 48 points!!!! oh yeah.. they were both off 20+ handicap…
    Can someone tell me again how this new system has made the game FAIR FOR ALL????

    Expecting a amateur golf of a low mark to shoot 10-11-12-13 under par off the stick in order to beat the high marker…. AND ITS NOTHING TO DO WITH GRADES… ITS SUPPOSE TO BE FAIR FOR ALL TO WIN A EVENT..

  10. Jamie  January 14, 2013

    hi thomo…
    dont you think its fair that all players can win a overall at their club not just the 15+ markers???
    Have you actually looked at the results at clubs lately??? i have over the past 12 months followed and recorded stats for as many clubs as time permits each week…
    40.1 is the AVERAGE winning score across 9 different clubs over 6 months…
    with 49 being the highest and a few 48’s in there also…

    i think what im getting at is players were complaining that the old system took too long for their handicap to go out if they had a blinder round..
    Why not just adjust the old system to allow a .2 increase rather that the .1 that was in place.. which is what low markers had to deal with anyway.. if you shot 5 over the CCR you went out .2 rather than just .1
    Very easy to make that work with the mid/high handicappers i would have thought???

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