In response to the growing debate (and controversy) surrounding Australia’s new golf handicapping system, Golf Australia has announced a new formula which will be used to calculate golfers’ handicaps.

In a letter to Australian golf clubs, new Golf Australia Chairman John Hopkins detailed the upcoming changes, stating in part that: “The Board believes that the proposed changes will please the Australian golf community and we will soon start to see a handicap system more closely aligned to the way we play our golf.”

In essence, there will be four amendments to the Golf Australia Handicap System:

1. Alter ‘Best 10 of 20’ to ‘Best 8 of 20’.

2. Change the Bonus for Excellence multiplier from 0.96 to 0.93.

3. Introduce an Anchor which will prevent a player’s handicap from increasing any more than 4 strokes beyond their best exact handicap from the previous 12-month rolling period.

4. Golf Link will cap the score that goes into a player’s handicap record at no more than 50 (women) and 40 (men) over the course rating

These four priority amendments will come into effect on Wednesday 21 September2011.

The new formula was derived based on an intensive statistical analysis that found that the recent “Best 10 of 20” handicapping system had, according to Hopkins “overcorrected the previous heavy bias in favour of low markers to a significant bias in favour of the higher markers”.

Read the entire Amendment Document here

Read more additional news on Golf Australia’s Handicaping System:

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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9 Responses to "New Golf Handicapping system formula announced"

  1. Jamie  June 2, 2011

    Can someone tell me.. if low, medium and high markers get the same changes.. how it makes any difference????
    i did the formula change on 3 people…
    PLAYER A = Scratch marker
    PLAYER B = 6 Marker
    PLAYER C = 19 marker
    Using the formula as listed including the change… EACH player drops to a lower handicap by 1 shot… so… if everyone drops one shot.. how does that actually make any change to bring a even playing field for the lower markers ??????
    I did hear of a option that was
    A grade = 10 of top 20
    B grade = 7 of top 20
    C grade = 4 of top 20
    This formula seemed to have the most effect leaving the low markers where they were.. the mid markers in by a shot.. and the higher markers in by 2….

  2. Gary  June 2, 2011

    Absolutely agree, well said, coming from a biased low marker, the proposed changes do not adequately address the unfair advantage that inconsistent high markers enjoy.
    We all love to see genuine but freaky performances when our fellow members have a lucky day but some results since the introduction of the new system have been laughable & only seem over the top as usually these have been achieved by golfers who had slid out 4-7 shots from prior handicaps only to play slightly above their previous standards. Any adjustment is welcome though.

  3. Pingback: What the new Australian golf handicapping system could mean to you : Inside Golf. Australia's Golf News Leader

  4. Mo Reardon  July 8, 2011

    Open Letter to John Hopkins, Chairman, Golf Australia

    STOP!!! Please don’t invent a new unique Australian handicap system!

    Dear John,

    I read with horror your letter regarding changes to the new Golf Australia Handicap System. When introducing the new system last April Golf Australia said

    ” Has Golf Australia considered ‘fine-tuning’ the USGA Handicap System regulations with a view to creating a distinctly Australian version of this system?
    Just as it is Golf Australia’s policy that to ‘fine-tune’ The R&A’s Rules of Golf would be counterproductive, it is also Golf Australia’s policy that to ‘fine-tune’ the USGA Handicap System would be counterproductive. Golf Australia has taken a conscious decision to move away from trying to operate a unique or Australianised hybrid handicapping code and to instead be a part of a widely-operated international system.
    Additionally, the USGA has invested millions of dollars into the constant research & development of its system with a view to seeking the best possible solution to all problems. Whilst handicapping is not a science that readily lends itself to ‘perfect’ solutions, Golf Australia has considerable faith in the robustness of this review framework (and its capacity to contribute to this process from within), just as it has considerable faith in the similar process that supports The R&A’s constant review of the Rules of Golf.”
    How can Golf Australia now “fine-tune” the system without even giving it a chance to run with the full SLOPE system?
    The only argument in favour of these changes seems to be that lower handicappers are now disadvantaged in competitions whilst the Old system disadvantaged high handicappers. Well, if this is so, isn’t it fair to let this run for a few years considering how many years the Old system was in place?
    I don’t know why the New system was introduced before the Slope system implementation but at least please give it a chance to run with that to see the full impact.
    Only one golfer out of many I’ve discussed these changes with was even aware of the proposed changes. Shouldn’t you at least ask all Golflink members to vote on whether they approve of these changes? I am sure the majority would think the changes are “unproductive” and not support the proposed changes.

    Mo Reardon
    Managing Director S.I.R. Pty Ltd
    312 Mona Vale Road, TERREY HILLS, NSW 2084
    Australia Ph +612 9450 2354 Fax +612 9475 1430

  5. Rodney Forrester, Oyster bay  August 5, 2011

    The new system to be implemented on September 21 should result in a fairer handicap system for players of all standards.
    Under the current system, A grade players have virtually no chance of winning a handicap competition unless it is just for A graders.
    If you look at results in the paper, it seems around 99% of winners are B/C graders, which shouldn’t surprise when you consider that on average B/C graders gained 4/5 shots when the handicap system was last changed.
    An issue that will have relevance to all and has escaped much discussion so far is the USGA course rating system. All courses are currently being rated, and once the rating is complete, there are 2 particular conditions that will cause much angst amongst members, especially higher handicappers, these being:
    1. Scores must not be handicapped when the length of the course played varies from the actual measured length of the rated course by more than 100 metres for an 18-hole round
    2. In order to maintain the playing characteristics of the course, and subject to the provisions of clause 2.1, the movable tee markers used to designate the Teeing Ground should not be placed more than 20 metres in front or 20 metres behind the relevant set of Permanent Plates.
    At most courses, there are different teeing grounds for medal play and stableford play, the tee markers being significantly forward for stableford play.
    Once the course rating system comes in, the teeing area will be limited, play will be slower, no drop zones are allowed, and on some holes, elderly members will not be able to play for the green. Examples are :
    – New brighton 17th hole 195m par 3, with 185m water carry. Often the tee is forward, around 125m mark.
    – The coast 12th hole 172m par 3, all carry, 141m from forward tee
    Once these new rules are in place, elderly members will have to play them as a par 4, adding time to rounds and leading to frustration.
    Why not leave flexibility for some holes, otherwise expect slow rounds and higher scores.

  6. Geoff Robinson  October 10, 2011

    If I understand it this new change is to help the lower handicappers.

    I play at a fairly easy course , certainly no monster , and was playing off 8

    Under the new system I enjoy only a 6 handicap now.

    So when I do go and play a monster course I now only have 6 shots , could not handle them off 8

    Double loss for me on my home course and away courses.

    I really appreciate the new changes.

  7. Richard Fellner  October 10, 2011

    Geoff – once the Slope system rolls out (which won’t be for a while, unfortunately), then when you play a monster course, you could actually be playing off an 8 or 9 that day (depending on the course, obviously). But that doesn’t really help you now, sorry to say. Anyway, most of us are in the same boat – I also dropped two strokes, but I was struggling to play to my own handicap, so I have no chance now. LOL.

  8. Geoff Robinson  October 10, 2011

    Thanks Richard

    Yes , the slope system is required to even things out , and we will just have to wait.

    We are all in the same boat as you say , but it is hurting the low handicappers at the moment.

    I will still enjoy my golf , and things will get sorted out.


  9. Terry Rush  February 11, 2017

    hi there, I belong to group of golfers that plays different courses each week and it was recently decided to adopt the golf link formula of the 8 best cards of the latest 20 games played. However the Handicappers have decided that our initial handicaps will be the best score played from the first 3 cards lodged until we complete our first 8 cards. This seems like nonsense to me particularly as I carded 44 stableford points on one card which gave me an instant reduction of 8 strokes. Not sour grapes I expected maybe a 3 or 4 shot reduction but 8 was a surprise and seems blatantly unfair. Can you advise what the starting point should be, I thought it would be the average of all cards lodged until the first 8 cards are completed or even using the previous 8 cards lodged. Hope you can answer my query. Thank you

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