Men’s handicap increase…but golf cheats beware

Golf Australia has announced a number of changes to the Australian golf handicapping system – including increasing the maximum men’s handicap from 27.4 to 36.4 and new provisions cracking down on players suspected of “manipulating” their handicaps.

 The handicap increase will be welcome news to many older golfers still wanting to compete effectively in club competitions, and getting rid of handicap “cheats” is always a great idea.

 New regulations will also allow handicap increases where players are recovering from injuries, illness or other justifiable reasons.

 Golf Australia says raising the handicap level to 36.4 will mean 12 percent of players will see their Australian Men’s Handicaps increase. As many of these players already have Club Handicaps beyond 27, the real impact in terms of pace of play may only relate to about 6 percent of players.

 Golf Australia Manager, Rules & Handicapping, Simon Magdulski said the positive outcomes of the change, which comes into effect on September 1, would include:

  •  Players whose golf diminishes over time due to age will be better encouraged to remain actively engaged in competitions and club life.
  •  Beginners will be better encouraged to become actively engaged in golf and club life.
  •  Australia will move to being more in-line with global trends. (Most of the rest of the world already has a maximum men’s handicap of 36, including the USA and Europe)

 Golf Australia said there had been strong support for the move and although there was a potential for a slight change in the pace of play for Stableford and Par competitions, this should be minimal. Other measures could be taken if this was a concern.

 Two other changes were announced including the removal of the lower limit on Australian Women’s and Men’s Handicaps.
If a player has an exact Australian Handicap of +0.6 or greater, their respective playing Australian Men’s or Women’s Handicap will now be the rounded figure.

 The third change involves new regulations which will govern the process by which a club, Member State or Golf Australia may “manually” adjust a player’s handicap.

 Golf Australia noted three scenarios where handicaps could be “manually” adjusted:

  •  Handicaps are intended to enable players to compete in handicap events on even terms. When a player is showing better form than their handicap or is showing an increased interest in playing better golf but is not returning cards which lead to an automatic reduction in handicap, and the improvement, current ability, or some other justifiable circumstances make it apparent to the Handicap Manager/Committee that the player is over-handicapped, their handicap may be reduced. This should not be a penalty for lack of scores but solely to provide uniformity in handicapping among all who play handicap golf.
  •  A player’s handicap may also be increased for players who may be recovering from injuries, illness or other justifiable reason. Such alterations may be effected at any time because the circumstances which give rise to this unusual step may be such as to require fairly prompt action in fairness to all concerned.
  •  When a player’s returns give rise to suspicion they may be attempting to “manipulate a handicap”, or are in serious breach of this System or the Rules of Golf or Etiquette (as contained in the Rules of Golf booklet), the Home Club is empowered to investigate the player’s performances and, if considered warranted, temporarily suspend their Australian and/or Club Handicap.

 These new manual adjustment regulations replace “Re-Assessment” under Section 6 of the current Australian Women’s Handicapping System, and Section 9 of the current Australian Men’s Handicapping System.

For full details of the changes, including a Q & A Document, see the official Golf Australia notice here.



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Brian is an award winning golf writer and is the founder and editor of Australian Senior Golfer. He is a former Sydney journalist who had little interest in golf till he hit his first ball at the age of 49 (and a half). Since then golf has just about overtaken his life. Brian founded ASG in April 2008 and has since covered every Australian Open, Presidents Cups, World Cups and numerous other big men’s and women’s tournaments, spending days inside the ropes with the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Tom Watson, Fred Couples, Greg Norman, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Karrie Webb, and many others. He has also played in, and reported on, numerous amateur tournaments, particularly senior and veteran events, around the country. Brian is a member of the Australian Golf Media Association and won the award for Best News Report for 2016 - 2017


  1. […] Mike 92 wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptThe handicap increase will be welcome news to many older golfers still wanting to compete effectively in club competitions, and getting rid of handicap “cheats” is always a great idea. New regulations will also allow handicap increases … […]

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