New GA Handicapping System

Here’s some info from Golf Australia on the new handicapping system. You can check out their full information page, plus some explanatory videos on the page below…

World Handicap System information

The brief version is…

The new handicap system has been purpose-built by GA for Australian golf, and has been designed around the feedback of Australian clubs.

You can find comprehensive information about the new handicap system at

The newly-calculated GA Handicaps have now all been adjusted against the international Slope Rating system.

Coming soon after will be the new-look GOLF Link Handicap History page and Daily Handicap calculator, which will be optimised for display on mobile and tablet devices.

The major reforms to the handicap system that will come into effect on 23 January 2014 are:

DSR (Daily Scratch Rating)

• The average net score for a field.

• The average handicap of a 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 ACTUAL average net score on the day with the average net score GOLF Link 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 ACTUALLY happened on the day and what was EXPECTED to happen.


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 the existing one-handicap-fits-all-courses method.

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 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.

SHA (Stableford Handicapping Adjustment)

For handicapping, all Stroke scores must be converted to, and processed as, Stableford scores. (Where the competition is Stroke, the Stroke score will be the Competition Score; the Stableford Score will be the Handicapping Score.)

Clubs will continue to play Par competitions exactly as they currently do now (players will not record Stableford scores in Par competitions). Any round played under the Par scoring system will be converted by GOLF Link into a Stableford score by adding 36 points to the player’s final result (for example GOLF Link will convert a score of 4 down into 32 points; the score of 32 points will be the player’s Handicapping Score).

If a player is competing in a Stroke or Par competition, their Stableford score is disregarded when assessing Competition placings.

What is the purpose of this?

To reduce the effect of high hole scores for handicap purposes in order to make handicaps more representative of a player’s potential ability.

To make all handicaps as equitable as possible by using a uniform score type for all handicapping (note: 78% of handicapping scores across Australia are currently Stableford or Par). Some players currently have ‘Stableford handicaps’ whereas other players have handicaps that are based on a mix of Stableford & Stroke. In a national handicap system there should be a uniform type of handicap.

Handicapping of Conforming Social Scores

The new handicap system will permit a social score to be used for handicapping, but only if the following conditions are met:

• The player’s home club must have chosen to allow the use of social scores.

• The player must have nominated prior to starting a round that it is to count for handicap purposes.

• The scoring format must be Stableford.

• The player must have a Marker throughout their round.

• The player must abide by the Rules of Golf.

Handicapping of Good Four-ball Scores

The GA Handicap System’s four-ball handicapping regulations ONLY apply to stand-alone four-ball competitions. Where a four-ball competition is played in conjunction with a singles competition, the scores need to be handicapped as follows:

• The singles scores are handicapped in accordance with the regular procedure for handicapping singles competitions.

• The four-ball scores are NOT used for handicapping purposes.


The new 9-hole handicapping regulations

GOLF Link will store a player’s 9-hole score for automatic combination with their next 9-hole score from Thursday 23 January 2014.

It is important that the GA Handicap System cater for 9-hole scores. This recognises the degree to which some groups of affiliated players have become time-poor. It also recognises those players who for various reasons have a strong preference for 9-hole golf.

The initial 9-hole score a player returns is to be entered into GOLF Link; it will not immediately be used in the calculation of the player’s GA Handicap. It will be automatically held by GOLF Link in the player’s handicap record (together with the relevant 9-hole course rating) until another 9-hole score is entered. The two 9-hole scores will be combined automatically by GOLF Link to create a single 18-hole score. (Note: The two 9-hole scores do not need to be played consecutively, multiple 18-hole rounds may be played between the play of two 9-hole scores.)

There is no requirement for the two 9-holes scores being combined to have been played at the same course. For example, whilst it would be fine for two 9-hole scores from the front 9 at Royal Sydney to be combined, it would be equally fine for a score from the back 9 at Brisbane Golf Club to be combined with a score from the front 9 at The Australian.

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