New Golf Handicap System Introduced January 2014


THE changeover to the complete new Australian Golf Handicap system is currently underway and will come into force on Thursday 23rd January 2014.

The GOLF Link public handicap computer system went offline on Monday to allow for the overhaul and the new Golf Australia Handicaps are due to be available from 7pm Thursday.

The new handicaps will incorporate all elements of the new system, including the use of the Daily Scratch Rating (DSR), Slope, standardised national “GA Handicaps” and the use of “Daily (or playing) Handicaps”.

This final measure is the culmination of the gradual introduction of the new system over the past couple of years. Golf Australia is confident it will be a much fairer and better system overall.

Details of the new Australian Golf Handicap System

(edited from information supplied by Golf Australia)


Already in Effect

• Best 8 of 20, multiplied by 0.93

• Cap (previously ‘Anchor’)

• Immediate updating of handicaps

• No lapsed handicaps

Introduced on January 23, 2014

• Slope

• Daily Scratch Rating (DSR)

• 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)

Slope and DSR

The most important new components are the use of the Slope system and the new Daily Scratch Rating.

It can get a little complex but basically the Slope system compensates for the inherent and unchanging difficulty of a course (i.e. a large creek 180 metres out from the tee makes it difficult for high handicappers) whilst DSR is a (more complicated) replacement for the old CCR rating and compensates for daily conditions like wind and rain.


Under Slope, a golfer’s playing handicap on any given day will be determined according to the difficulty of the tees or course to be played. Golf Australia believes that this will be fairer than our current one-handicap-fits-all-courses method.

What are the features of Slope?

• Every set of tees on every golf course around the country will have

a Slope Rating which has been determined in accordance with the

new course rating system. The maximum Slope Rating is 155 (most

difficult) and the minimum is 55 (least difficult). The Neutral Slope

Rating is 113. Every set of tees will also have a Scratch Rating.

• GOLF Link will calculate a nationally-standardised handicap index for

every player and this will be called the GA Handicap.

• A GA Handicap will be calculated by using the best 8 of a player’s

most recent 20 scores (ie best 8 of 20, x 0.93). However, every

score in every player’s score history will first be standardised by GOLF

Link against a Slope Rating of 113. As a result, the GA Handicap

will reflect a golfer’s ability on a course which has the neutral Slope

Rating of 113.

• The GA Handicap is not intended for use as a playing handicap. It

is to be used in conjunction with the Slope Rating of the set of tees

being played to calculate a golfer’s playing handicap for the day, and

this will be called the Daily Handicap.

• It is the GA Handicap that will be displayed in a player’s GOLF Link

record on

How will Slope make things fairer?

Generally speaking, a high-marker finds it harder to adjust to a difficult

course than a low-marker does. Slope adjustments will play a balancing role. For example, if the Black Tees are harder than the White Tees, a high-marker may play the Black Tees off a handicap of 28 and the White Tees off 24. The elite player finds it easier to adjust, so they may play the Black Tees off 4 and the White Tees off 3. Golf Australia believes this is fairer than having the difference between the elite player’s handicap and the high-marker’s handicap always stay the same.

Every time before I play a round, I should check what my Daily Handicap will be. How can I do this?

• Different clubs will use different methods to communicate Daily

Handicaps to golfers. Examples of different methods include via the

use of existing club computer systems, and via direct printing on to

score cards. Some clubs will provide easy-to-use Daily Handicap

look-up posters.

• The GA website and the GOLF Link website will feature Daily

Handicap calculators.

I know that I will be playing off my DailyHandicap when I visit another club, but what handicap do I use at my Home Club?

• Whether you are playing at an away club or at your Home Club, you

will need to check your Daily Handicap for the tees you are playing

from and play off this handicap.

Home Club Example: A player with a GA Handicap of 22.3 when

playing off the White Tees (eg Slope Rating of 119) at their Home

Club will play off a Daily Handicap of 23; and when they play off the

Blue Tees (eg Slope Rating of 136) will play off a Daily Handicap of

27. (Note: The same calculations would apply if the example was for

an away club).

What is the formula that GOLF Link will use to calculate a Daily Handicap?

Daily Handicap = GA Handicap x Slope Rating ÷ Neutral Slope Rating

(ie 113)


How will the new DSR (Daily Scratch Rating) system work?

Under the new DSR system, GOLF Link will assess a current scratch rating each day for your course. This rating will be appropriate to the conditions you actually experienced.

The formulas used to assess the DSR are complex as our statisticians have advised that simple formula options are not efficient enough to produce reliable ratings – this was the problem with CCR.

Will the DSR system mean more work for clubs?

No. GOLF Link will do all of the work and the DSR value will be displayed on the club administrator’s computer screen immediately after the scores are processed.

Through GOLF Link, the DSR system will establish each of the following:

• An average net score for the field.

• An average handicap for the field.

• The field size.

• The type of competition (Stableford, Par, or Stroke).

• The gender of the competitors.

Once it has established each of these factors, GOLF Link will compare the average net score it has calculated from the scores on the day, with the average net score it EXPECTS for this precise field composition.

(The EXPECTED average is determined by GOLF Link from millions

of prior rounds.)

GOLF Link will then determine the DSR by using the difference between

what happened on the day and what was EXPECTED to happen.

Why do we need course ratings?

• In order to process a player’s score for handicapping, we need to know how hard the golf course was. If we don’t, the score itself is largely meaningless and is unusable. For example, 82 on a very hard golf course is a much better achievement than 82 on a very easy golf course.

• For this reason, every set of tees on every golf course has a Scratch Rating assessed for it by a group of State/Territory Association experts.

What is the benefit of changing the course rating from day to day?

• Course ratings currently stay the same day after day, ignoring all daily shifts in course and climate conditions. We all know that the difficulty of a course can vary substantially from day to day based on these conditions, with score fluctuations being the evidence of this. This means that on many days the Scratch Rating does not reflect the true course difficulty.

• In a computerised world, clubs and golfers are becoming increasingly expectant of improved service standards. Utilising technology to provide ratings more closely aligned to the difficulty of a course is an innovation that will increasingly be seen as a basic requirement.

• It is important for Australia to have a handicap system that has the flexibility to be able to reflect daily movements in course difficulty, be it driven by wind, rain, course condition, hole placements, green speed or any other conditions impacting on the daily scores returned. If we don’t, we end up processing scores against inaccurate course ratings, making handicaps inaccurate.

• DSR will lead to more stable and comparable handicaps than if the vagaries of fluctuations in conditions from day to day and season to season are not taken into account.

Can the DSR strategy be summarised in one paragraph?

DSR will provide golfers with a rating that is a reflection of the conditions under which they played. The formulas will determine whether the difficulty presented at the time by playing conditions was normal, or different to normal, with scores returned for the day being the evidence of any variation to the Scratch Rating.

There is a handy poster here at giving full details.

[box]This is all very complex so the best advice from an anonymous panel of ASG experts is: Just concentrate on hitting one ball at a time and worry about the score later.[/box]

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Brian is a former Sydney journalist who didn’t have a skerrick of 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 Australian Senior Golfer 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, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Karrie Webb, and many others. He has also played in, and reported on, amateur tournaments, particularly senior and veteran events, around the country. Brian is a member of the Australian Golf Media Association.



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