Australian handicap system is now best 8 of 20 rounds

GOLF AUSTRALIA has announced the latest changes to the new Australian golf handicapping system.

Most prominently, the “best 10 of 20” system will be changed to a “best 8 of 20” system which the GA board believes will better suit Australian golf.

After an exhaustive statistical review, trials at a number of clubs, and consultations within Australia and with the USGA, the changes have been designed to address a number of concerns, including big blow-outs in handicaps and stableford scores.

“It has been apparent to the Board of Golf Australia since late last year that the wholesale adoption of the USGA Handicap System in its entirety would not be in the best interests of Australian golf,” new GA Chairman John Hopkins said in a letter to clubs this week.

Hopkins said the Board believed 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.”

The following four priority amendments to the Golf Australia Handicap System were announced:

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 the following amount over the course rating:

– 50-women

– 40-men2

These four priority amendments will come into effect on Wednesday 21 September 2011.

(This will involve the GOLF Link system being down from 1.00pm on Monday 19 September until Wednesday 21 September.)

Hopkins said he could also confirm the following would NOT be a part of the new system:

· ‘Most Likely Score’.

· Required handicapping of novelty competitions.

· Handicapping of ALL non-competition scores.

· Handicapping of match play scores.

· Handicapping of a score returned by a player who plays alone.

What the Changes Will Achieve

GA gave the following advice on what the changes would achieve (Noting that statistical analysis demonstrated that each club has its own unique distribution of handicaps and scoring patterns and s a result all handicap calculation methods achieve at least slightly different outcomes from club to club.)

· The balance will tilt back so it is slightly in favour of the low marker in most clubs, but not to the same unsatisfactory extent as occurred under the old method of incrementally adjusting handicaps.

· All handicaps will decrease. Consequently, all Stableford scores will decrease.

o High handicaps will decrease more than low handicaps.

o Handicaps of inconsistent players will decrease slightly more than consistent players.

· By moving from ‘10 of 20’ to ‘8 of 20’, consistent players will have slightly higher handicaps than comparable inconsistent players. As a result, players who are prone to returning occasional ‘one-off’

good rounds will find their net scores will become relatively worse when compared to net scores returned under ’10 of 20’.

· The rate of downward adjustment of a handicap will now be slightly quicker than has occurred under the initial averaging method. The rate of outward adjustment will now be slightly slower than has

occurred under the initial adjustment method. To quantify this, handicaps on average will now increase 50% more slowly than they will reduce. (This is more in line with the expressed expectation of

Australian clubs. The initial averaging method saw handicaps increase and reduce at the same rate.)

· Handicaps will continue to adjust outwards far more dynamically than occurred under the old incremental adjustment method.

· The Anchor will eliminate the capacity for extreme outward movements of handicaps within short spaces of time. As a result, a sustained loss of form will not see a player’s handicap move too far from a level which is consistent with their underlying ability.

· The Anchor will make the handicap system less susceptible to manipulation.

· The placing of a ceiling on the value a high 18-hole score can take is partly geared to support the correction of the existing bias towards high markers. It is also to address a strong theme that emerged

in club feedback regarding the incapacity of the aspirational very high-marker to improve their handicap below the maximum value.

Full details are available on the Golf Australia website here

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Brian is an award winning golf writer and is the founder and editor of Australian Senior Golfer. A former Sydney journalist, he launched 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, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, Tom Watson, Fred Couples and Karrie Webb. He has also reported on numerous amateur tournaments, particularly national senior and veteran events. Brian is a member of the Australian Golf Media Association and won the award for Best Golf News Report 2016 - 2017.


  1. This just proves what every active Australian golfer knew from day 1, but GA didn’t, that Australians play golf very differently from Americans. So why on earth did GA go down this route in the first place? Talk about change for change’s sake.


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