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Handicapping & Course Rating

Handicapping & Course Rating

Handicapping Support for Clubs – Latest Announcements

This section of the website provides support and resources to clubs administrators, committee members and other volunteers, with specific support for handicapping convenors.

2019 Rules of Golf – Effect on CONGU Handicapping

The new Rules of Golf come into play on 1st January 2019 and The R&A have produced an Official Guide to the Rules of Golf containing the “Committee Procedures” which gives detailed advice to committees as regards to the new rules (available next month on the R&A website).

Within the Committee Procedures there are certain aspects, particularly in competition play or course set up, where clubs may need guidance.

The document below has been produced by CONGU and will guide Club Committees and support the guidance provided by their Union.

Guidance Running Winter Competitions – Rules of Golf 2019

Please refer to the guidance below for clubs running competitions throughout the winter period, which covers the time period when the new Rules of Golf come into play on 1 January 2019:

  • If the Winter League or any other Winter Competition is a Qualifying Competition for handicap then the current Rules of Golf MUST be used until 31st December and the 2019 Rules from 1st January 2019. The same must apply if the course is available for Supplementary Scores over the winter.
  • Clubs would be encouraged to run any Non-Qualifying Competition or Winter League on the same basis. The new Rules must be in place on 1st January 2019 although a bit more flexibility could be adopted.
  • If clubs do not want to change the Rules mid-way whilst the league or competitions are in place and the events are Non-Qualifying for handicap, the club can adopt the 2019 rules change early. It is a good way to get players used to the changes.

Allocating a Handicap for New Members

Assigning handicaps to new members is one of the most important functions of a handicap committee. New members will generally fall into two categories:

  1. Those that have never held a handicap before and:
  2. Those that are joining from another club that should have a CDH number and handicap record that comes with them.

If a player transfers to another club within 12 months of losing their handicap, it will simply be restored at the exact number last held. Out with 12 months, 3 qualifying scores would be needed to regain a Competition Handicap.

Often there may be a time interval between the two memberships which can often make it more difficult to locate the player’s CDH number and any previous handicap information.

We have noticed a few examples, where after a number of years’ gap between memberships, a player’s last handicap does not come to light, and as a result, after the player has returned 3 cards, they may end up being allocated a higher handicap than is appropriate.

To assist clubs with ensuring that new members are appropriately handicapped, we have put together a “New Member Application” Form. Clubs can use this in addition to their own membership forms to help new members integrate smoothly into club competitions with a meaningful handicap.

Preferred Lies – Update

The preferred lie period runs from the 1 October – 30 April. Clubs are therefore allowed to run qualifying competitions with preferred lies in operation between this time.

After the 30 April, whenever possible the ball should be played as it lies, as the system has to be respected. However there is the discretion for clubs to grant themselves temporary approval on a competition by competition basis to operate preferred lies, for example, after a sudden downpour.

Changes to CONGU Handicapping System – From 1 January 2018

Changes to the CONGU handicapping system have recently been announced and a summary can be viewed below:

To assist Handicap Convenors in their role, guidance documents outlining the key changes can be downloaded via the links below:

With regards to the changes, CONGU have created a useful FAQ’s document covering common questions that clubs may have:

CONGU Manual and Quick Guides

Hard copies of the CONGU Manual are no longer being published, however you can download the updated version below that includes the 2018 changes:

A condensed version of the CONGU Handicapping system is now available for both Clubs and Players and can be downloaded below:

Setting up Non-Qualifying Winter League Competitions on your Handicap Software

Do you use your club handicap software to run Non-Qualifying Winter League or Stroke Play Competitions? If so, your handicapping software now has built-in functionality to allow you to do so and ease the processing of competition scores and analysis. Please read the guidance document below:

> Setting up your Winter League – Handicap Software Guidance Document

Allocating a Handicap – Remember the Playing History!

Assigning handicaps to new members is one of the most important functions of a handicap committee. Below is a quick-fire guide to assist you in your role:

  • Any new player has to complete 54-holes in any combination of 9- or 18-holes
  • Following the inputting of the score details from these cards, the computer program calculates a handicap.
  • This should be regarded as a recommendation only should be reviewed along with other factors such as:
    • Previous playing history, Time of year, prevailing weather conditions, and the most recent past handicap held before a handicap is allotted.
  • New players should be reviewed regularly to check that they have been given the right handicap.
  • If the new member is joining from another club and has a CONGU handicap and CDH number, that CDH ID number and handicap comes with them
  • A player may not be allotted a category 1 handicap without the authority of your area authority or national union. The relevant body will give you the code you need for your handicap software.

In summary, please take the time to consider the full picture when allocating a handicap, using the figure generated by the handicapping software as a recommended starting point and use the additional information available to validate your decision.

For further guidance on handicapping matters please email:

Please direct all enquiries to the relevant email addresses:

Handicapping & Competition Enquiries –

Central Database of Handicaps Enquiries –

Course Rating Enquiries –

Membership Card Enquiries –

For telephone enquiries, please call Scottish Golf 01334 466 477.

“Handicapping is at the heart of amateur golf”

Handicapping is an integral part of amateur golf, creating a level playing field that allows golfers of differing abilities to compete and have an equitable chance of winning in both stroke play and match play formats of the game.

It is recognised that handicapping, due to the nature of the game of golf and it’s varying playing conditions, is not an exact science. However, a high degree of uniformity can still be achieved if all parties honour their obligations by observing the spirit and intent of the CONGU Unified Handicapping System. By achieving uniformity we can protect one of the unique benefits of handicap golf – giving all participants an equitable chance of success.

Scottish Golf is the governing body for handicapping in Scotland, with responsibility for monitoring and maintaining the application of the CONGU Unified Handicapping System (UHS) within all affiliated golf clubs in Scotland.

We support affiliated golf clubs in all aspects of handicapping, competitions, course rating and the Central Database of Handicaps. Support is provided through the provision of website resources, seminars and via the telephone.