Handicapping – FAQ’s

Handicap Allocation and General Play Adjustment

How does a player obtain a handicap?

To obtain a handicap a player is required to submit such number of cards over 9 or 18 holes, with an expectation that the norm will be three 18-hole cards. However any permutation of 9 and 18 hole cards may be submitted but must total a minimum of 54 holes at his Home Club (preferably over a Measured Course)

Does a club have the authority to allocate an initial handicap lower than the level calculated from the adjusted best score?

Yes. The Handicap Committee may allot a player an initial whole number Exact Handicap less than the best score if it has reason to consider that a lower handicap is more appropriate to the player’s ability.

Factors to be considered would include:

  • Time of year and prevailing weather conditions when cards submitted.
  • Previous playing history and any handicap previously held at Home Club or elsewhere.
  • Information from peers

Can a player appeal to the Union if they feel a General Play Adjustment has been unfairly applied to their handicap?

The club is in the best position to judge whether or not a player should have a general play adjustment. The Union would not have the relevant information; thus an appeal is not considered appropriate.

However, the club Handicap Committee should take care to justify the reduction and should follow the guidelines laid down by their National Union/Association. The player could readdress the matter with the committee. In such circumstances the club is advised to refer the matter to Area Authority/National Organisation as appropriate.

Player’s Responsibilities

Who is responsible for reporting Away Scores in Open Competitions, the Player or the club hosting the ‘Open Competition’?

It is the responsibility of the player to report to his Home Club as soon as practicable all Qualifying Scores (including No Returns) returned away from his Home Club advising them of the date of the competition, venue, SSS and the CSS,

After a par qualifying competition the par of the course and the score versus par. After a Stableford qualifying competition the par of the course and the number of points scored.

A club requires player’s to register their intention to enter a competition before commencing play, what happens if the player fails to do so?

Failure to comply with the requirement will mean that the score is ineligible for handicap purposes and should not be included in the CSS calculation.

 Competition Handicap Status

What is a ‘Competition Status’ Handicap?

  • Any player who has returned a minimum of 3 qualifying competition scores per year is considered to have competition handicap status. These handicaps will be annotated with ‘c’.
  • Club’s may decide to limit some of their club competitions and open events to those with competition handicap status only, this is at the club’s discretion.
  • If a player does not return 3 scorecards per year their handicap will lose its ‘Competition Status’
  • Qualifying Scores include stroke play scores i.e. medal play, Stableford and Par/Bogey competitions, Supplementary Scores played at the home club of the player and Nine-Hole Qualifying Competition Scores returned from any affiliated club of which the player is a member.

If a player’s handicap is not marked as a ‘Competition Handicap’ with a small ‘c’ how will that affect them?

The player will be unable to enter competitions in which a CONGU Handicap is required for entry. This includes official club stroke play and match play competitions and any Qualifying Competitions at other golf clubs, however, it should be highlighted that a player may still play in a club stroke play competition for the purposes of submitting a scorecard for handicap allotment purposes.

Where a player’s handicap has not been marked as a ‘Competition Handicap’ the player’s handicap may still be used for social golf and it will still be valid where a handicap certificate is required to gain access to play at another golf course.

Following submission of the required number of cards to regain a ‘Competition Handicap’, is a players handicap simply restored at the previous level?

Not necessarily. The handicap allocated should be based on the cards returned, where applicable – the ‘live’ cards carried forward, together with all information available to the Committee about the player’s playing history and ability.

Does a club committee have discretion to allow a player to retain their Competition Handicap Status based on medical grounds? (E.g. Serious heart condition, broken bones etc.)

Where the golf club has been provided with evidence that a player has been instructed not to play golf during any year to 1 March, the Handicap Committee have discretion to allow the player to retain his/her ‘Competition Handicap Status’. The expectation is that the use of this discretionary power by golf clubs will be infrequent

Does a Club Committee have discretion to allow a player to retain their Competition Handicap Status if they fail to return the required three scores due to personal reasons, such as being relocated by their work?

The Committee shall not mark such a player’s handicap as a ‘Competition Handicap’ – their handicap will lose its competition status and simply be recognised as a CONGU® Handicap.

Once a member has been allocated a new handicap during the season or a player has regained a ‘Competition Handicap’ mid-season, is there a requirement to submit three additional cards within the same season to maintain their Competition Handicap Status?

No, a player is not expected to return three additional scores that season. Their handicap would remain marked as a ‘Competition Handicap’. Three qualifying scores would be required to retain Competition Handicap Status in each subsequent year.

If a player enters a Qualifying Competition and records a ‘No Return’ does this count as one of the three scores required to retain their handicap?

The principle that the player has gone out to play with the intention of completing 18 holes is key in this situation. Therefore, if a card is returned by the player, with one or more holes incomplete and is adjusted under Clause 19 to produce a net differential, the score may be accepted.

Otherwise, if a player in a qualifying competition fails to return their completed scorecard to allow a net differential to be established, it will not count as one of the three scores required.

If a player is suspended for a period during a playing season, are they still required to submit three qualifying scores?

Yes, the expectation is that suspended players will submit three Qualifying Scores prior to 1 March each year.

Non-CONGU Handicaps

If an organisation is offering handicaps calculated in accordance with CONGU requirements, are they deemed official CONGU Handicaps?

No. Only clubs affiliated to the Home Unions in Great Britain and Ireland (and other approved overseas Organisations) are allowed to issue and maintain CONGU Handicaps.

Annual Handicap Review

Could the calculation used in the AHR to identify people for handicap adjustments be explained?

The Annual Review program is merely a tool to assist Handicap Committees to identify players who may be considered for handicap adjustment. It is not intended that it be used as a substitute for the knowledge of the Committee but should compliment it. It is important that Committees read the first page of the Report print-out and are familiar with Clause 23 of the Manual.

The Median Gross Differential (MGD) and the Target

The program itself is based on a mathematical model that determines the “ideal handicap” for the statistically perfect golfer based on their Median Gross Differential (MGD). (the median is used as, where a player has No-Returns, it would be impossible to calculate an average). So a “Target” MGD is determined for each handicap.

“Target” MGD = MGD that applies to the statistically perfect golfer of a given handicap

The Actual MGD of the player’s scores for the year is then found and this is related to their Finish Handicap (which should represent their current paying ability). This Actual MGD is compared to the Target for that handicap.

Target – Actual = Difference = Performance Indicator of each player

The Effect of the Number of Scores

The statistical analysis suggests that if the Actual is more than 3 shots away from the Target then the player may be over (if Difference is -3 or lower) or under handicapped (+3 or higher). The analysis showed that a minimum of seven scores is required to establish that an MGD difference of 3 represents approximately one shot in handicap terms. The more scores above 7 the player has returned the more confidence can be placed on the Difference indicating the player should be considered for adjustment.

Clearly the nearer the Difference is to 3 the case for adjustment is not so clear-cut, and the same applies the fewer scores on the record. It should be emphasised that the process effectively examines the consistency of a player compared to how consistent a player of their handicap should be. A “wild” player who either scores well under their handicap (but not very often) but mainly well over it might be “flagged” for increase so the system should not allow a player who has a Finish Handicap lower than their handicap at the start of the period to be flagged. However a very steady player who doesn’t play below their handicap very often but is near to it more often than they should be may well be flagged for a decrease even though they haven’t returned a score that reduced their handicap.

Whatever the result of the analysis the final judgement should be that of the Committee. It should also be remembered that the analysis can only take into account Qualifying scores, the Committee should also consider 4-ball results, foursomes results, matchplay performance, i.e. all the information available for each player. It cannot be over-stressed that the Annual Review Report should not be used to make automatic adjustments solely based on the print-out.