Handicap Guide

Allotment of handicaps

A handicap can be allotted only to a member of an Affiliated Club and after full consideration of his previous playing history, including any handicap held previously at any other Club or under another handicapping system.

To obtain a handicap a player must submit such number of cards over 9 or 18 holes in such a manner as his home club requires, 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. (over a measured course – no winter greens or tees). Each card must be marked and signed for by a club member and marked ‘for handicap purposes’
The cards should be submitted within a period of 6 months AT IBGA we will accept 9 hole cards, provided there are the same number covering the back nine as the front 9.

Supplementary Scores

The UHS is based on the expectation that every player will return a sufficient number of scores to provide reasonable evidence of his current ability.
To operate in the intended manner, the UHS requires information i.e. the return of Qualifying Scores to produce handicaps that reasonably reflect current ability.

Although golf club Committees and administrators may consider that in the course of a playing season they organise an adequate number of competitions to provide ample opportunity for Members to participate, investigation has confirmed that a substantial number of Members do not return sufficient scores in the period between Annual Reviews to maintain a handicap that reasonably reflects their current ability. This may in part be due to:

  • Work or family commitments preventing participation in competitions.
  • Difficulty in obtaining an acceptable starting time on competition days in clubs with a large playing membership.
  • A declining desire to play regular competitive golf.

Supplementary Scores have been introduced to provide players in the above situations and the like an alternative format in which to submit scores for handicap purposes and augment the often sparse information derived from competition play.

The intent is to encourage the provision of more evidence of playing ability over a wider range of players and so make handicapping more equitable and golf under handicap conditions more meaningful for all concerned.

A member may return a Supplementary Score for handicapping purposes in compliance with the following conditions:-

21.1 Shall apply to all Handicap Categories.

21.2 A Supplementary Score may only be returned at the Home Club of the player.

21.3 An acceptable score for Supplementary Score purposes is any authenticatedscore over 18 holes under Competition Play Conditions (White tees for Men and Red tees for Ladies and Juniors) over a Measured Course in compliance with the conditions listed in the Clause. The format may be Stroke Play or Stableford.

21.4 Up to a maximum of ten Supplementary Scores may be returned in the period between Annual Reviews.

21.5 Unless the Affiliated Club decides otherwise, a Member is limited to the return of one Supplementary Score per week.

21.6 A player intending to return a Supplementary Score will be required to signify his intention prior to commencement of play in the manner determined by the Affiliated Club. At IBGA this will by signing the Competitions Book held at the Shop. Players must sign this book and have it countersigned by a member of the shop staff. Failure to do this will result in the card being invalid

21.7 A Competition Scratch Score shall not be calculated and adjustments to handicap, in accordance with Clause 20.6, shall be made in respect of the Standard Scratch Score.

21.8 Stroke Play returns shall be subject to Stableford/Nett Double Bogey Adjustment in compliance with Clause 19.

21.9 The Supplementary Score must be recorded in the Player Handicap Record.

21.10 If a player who has registered for a Supplementary Score subsequently does not return a card an increase in handicap of 0.1 shall be applied.

21.11 Returns may be subject to action under Clause 23 (B) if ‘manipulation’ is suspected.

21.12 Players who have recently been allocated a CONGU Handicap qualify immediately for the return of Supplementary Scores.

Inactive Handicap

England Golf direct that the handicap of any player, in whatever Category who fails to return a stipulated minimum number of Qualifying Scores in the previous calendar year shall be marked as an ‘Inactive Handicap’. Note: Handicap Committees have discretionary powers in very exceptional circumstances to allow the retention of an ‘Active Handicap’ where ill health or injury has precluded a player from returning the specified number of scores in accordance with Clause 25.  26.4 A player whose handicap has been marked as an ’Inactive handicap’ can regain a Playing Handicap by submitting a minimum of three Qualifying Scores to the Handicap Committee. You may play in a club competition in order to complete a qualifying score, but not be eligible to win a prize.You do not require an active handicap if you just intend to play social golf.

Handicap Categories

Handicaps are divided into the following categories:
Category 1: Handicaps 5 or less. (Buffer Zone 0 to +1).
Category 2: Handicaps of 6 to 12. (Buffer Zone 0 to +2).
Category 3: Handicaps of 13 to 20. (Buffer Zone 0 to +3).
Category 4: Handicaps of 21 to 28. (Buffer Zone 0 to +4).
Category 5: Handicaps of 29 to 36. (Buffer Zone 0 to +5 Ladies Only).

The Buffer Zone is the margin within which an exact handicap remains unchanged.

Alteration of Handicaps

Consideration is given to alteration of handicap following submission of a card completed during any qualifying competition.
If a player after the application of Clause 19.8 returns a score with a nett differential: Within the Buffer Zone the handicap is not changed. Above the Buffer Zone or records a no return the exact handicap is increased by 0.1
Of less than zero the Exact Handicap is reduced by an amount per stroke being determined by the Handicap Category as follows:

Category 1 = 0.1, Category 2 = 0.2, Category 3 = 0.3, Category 4 = 0.4, Category 5 = 0.5.

9 Hole Competitions

Evidence from golf clubs indicates that a significant number of Members, due to increasing demands in their working and family life for example, are unable to play 18 hole Qualifying Competitions frequently enough to establish and maintain a handicap representative of their potential ability.

Consequently, in response to the changing needs of the game and the Members of our Affiliated Clubs, Qualifying Competitions over Nine-Holes have been introduced into the UHS to provide additional opportunities for the return of Qualifying Scores.

It is envisaged that Nine-Hole Qualifying Competitions will be particularly attractive to clubs and their Members in summer evenings and in the restricted daylight hours of winter weekends. Nine-Hole competitions could also be the means by which a greater number of senior golfers are encouraged to make returns for handicap purposes.

The format for Nine-Hole Qualifying Competitions is Stableford with a ‘neutral’ 18 points for the nine unplayed holes being added to the Nine-Hole Stableford score.

As there is no desire to change the traditional way in which competitive golf is played i.e. over 18 holes, the number of Nine-Hole competitions is restricted.

At the discretion of the Affiliated Club, Qualifying Competitions over Nine-Holes may be conducted for all Members. The scores shall be recorded as Qualifying Scores in the Player Handicap Records, subject to the following provisions:-

22.1 The designated Nine-Hole course shall have a Standard Scratch Score issued by the Union and expressed as an 18 hole value.

22.2 Nine-Hole Qualifying Competitions shall be in Stableford format.

22.3 A Nine-Hole Competition Handicap shall be calculated as follows:- [Exact Handicap + Nine-Hole SSS – (Nine-Hole Par x 2)] /2. For example, if the player has a Exact Handicap of 12.8 and the Nine-Hole SSS and Par 69 and 34 respectively the Nine-Hole Competition Handicap is: [12.8 + 69 – (34 x 2)] /2 = [12.8 + 69 – 68] /2 = 6.9 rounded to 7.

22.4 Handicap strokes shall be taken according to the Stroke Index for the Nine-Hole course.

22.5 Eighteen Stableford point must be added to the result over Nine-Holes to obtain a Qualifying Score for handicap purposes.

22.6 Players in all Handicap Categories may return Nine-Hole scores for handicap purposes.

22.7 A player in Category 2 recording the required Nett Differential for the transition from Category 2 to Category 1 shall not have his handicap reduced below an Exact Handicap of 5.5 ie. Shall not be reduced into Category 1.

22.8 A Competition Scratch Score shall not be calculated. If a competition is abandoned for any valid reason players returning Nett Differentials below the Standard Scratch Score shall have the Exact Handicaps reduced to the extent dictated by the Nett Differential. A Nett Differential of zero or above shall not result in a handicap increase.

22.9 The following Buffer Zones apply to Qualifying Scores over Nine-Holes: Handicap Category Buffer Zone (Stableford Points)

Handicap Category  Buffer Zone (Stableford points)
 2 35-36
 3 35-36
 4 (5) 34-36

22.10 A recognised section of an Affiliated Club may arrange as many 9 hole competitions as they desire.

22.11 A Qualifying Competition over Nine-Holes shall not be part of an 18 hole Qualifying Competition.

22.12 Supplementary Scores over Nine-Holes shall not be used for handicap purposes.

Annual Review

23.1 The Handicap Committee is required to carry out an Annual Review of the handicaps of all Members for whom it is the Home Club – see Clause 7.7(i). This review should be conducted in compliance with the requirements of Appendix M.

23.2 If he Handicap Committee determines that a player’s Exact Handicap is too high and does not reflect his current playing ability the Handicap Committee should, subject to the provisions of Clause 23.4, reduce his Exact Handicap to the figure it considers to be appropriate. Except when a Union determines otherwise, the reduction shall be not less than one whole stroke. Fractional reductions in excess of one stroke are permitted.

23.3 (a)

If the Handicap Committee determines that a player’s Exact Handicap is too low and does not reflect his current playing ability the Handicap Committee should, subject to the provisions of Clause 23.4, recommend to the Union, or Area Authority if so delegated, that his Exact Handicap should be increased tot the figure it considers appropriate. Except when a Union determines otherwise, the increase shall be not less than one whole stroke. Fractional increases in excess of one stroke are permitted.

(b) In the event of a Union delegating to Home Clubs the unconditional authority to increase the handicaps of players in any of the Categories 2, 3, 4, (and 5) Home Clubs need not submit to the Union or Area Authority proposals in respect of any changes of handicaps of players in the nominated Categories.

23.4 When the Handicap Committee has decided that the:

(a) Exact Handicap of a Category 1 player should be reduced, or the

(b) Exact Handicap of a Category 2 player should be reduced into Category 1, or the –

(c) Exact Handicap of any player should be increased (subject to any direction made pursuant to Clause 4.5(a) and 23.3(b)

Then the Handicap Committee must refer the matter to the Union, or Area Authority if so delegated, with its recommended adjustment. The Union or Area Authority shall be authorise the recommended variation, reject the recommendation or refer the matter back the Handicap Committee for further consideration. The Union of Area Authority shall be supplied with all the information upon which the recommendation is based and with any further information required.

23.5 The Handicap Committee shall advise a player of any change of handicap under this Clause and the change will become effective when the player becomes aware of the adjustment.

23.6 Decisions made by a Handicap Committee, Union or Area Authority under this Clause shall be final provided that the correct procedures are followed. NOTE: A computer generated report has been designed to assist the Handicap Committee in the Annual Review – see Appendix M. GENERAL PLAY ADJUSTMENT

23.7 In exceptional circumstances the Handicap Committee may adjust the handicap of a player in the period between Annual Reviews if there is compelling evidence that his Exact Handicap does not reflect his current playing ability. Appendix M should be consulted for guidance.

23.8 General Play Adjustments should be made in accordance with the provisions of Clauses 23.2 to 23.6.

23.9 The Handicap Committee or other body organising a competition at a club which is not the player’s Home Club may, if it considers that his handicap is too high, reduce that handicap. Any reduction made under this clause shall apply only to the competition for which it is made.

NOTE: If the handicap of any player is reduced other than to the extent required by Clause 20 or by the correct application of Clause 23, the player’s handicap will not be a CONGU Handicap and must not be used in any competition for which a CONGU Handicap is required.

5. Definitions

Standard Scratch Score (SSS) is the score allotted to an 18 hole golf course and is the score that a scratch player is expected to return in ideal conditions over a measured course.

Competition Scratch Score CSS is the adjustment that may be necessary to the SSS to take account of weather and course conditions and must be calculated for all Qualifying Competitions.

Qualifying Competition is any competition in which Medal Play Conditions prevail and a CSS is calculated. A Qualifying Score is any score including a no return returned in a Qualifying Competition.

Nett Differential is the difference (+ or -) between the nett score returned in a Qualifying Competition and the CSS after the application of Clause 19.8.

Clause 19.8 Where all holes are completed the players Nett Differential is reduced by the number of strokes taken on any hole in excess of nett double bogey. Any holes with no score recorded a score of nett double bogey is entered

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