There a number of ways to calculate your golf handicap either via a recognised CONGU® Club handicap OR alternatively, golfers can use an Online Golf Handicap Tracking Platform such as the one offered by The Social Golfer.
However, be aware that Online Golf Handicap calculations are NOT approved by CONGU® (The Council of National Golf Unions).
But how do you calculate your golf handicap?
How to calculate your Golf Handicap – CONGU®*…
One of the unique things about golf is that unlike many sports, golf has a handicapping system that allo
ws players of varying abilities, to play against one another in a fair and equal manner.
In short, your golf handicap is….. the number of shots you would expect to take when playing a round of golf compared to a player who has no handicap e.g. someone whose handicap is 0.
This is not as difficult as you might think if you take a short time to understand the CONGU® system.
If you are a member of a club that is affiliated to one of the ‘Home Unions’ (ie, the governing body for golf in England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales), then you are eligible to have a CONGU® handicap.
To get your first OFFICIAL handicap you will need to complete 54 holes of golf (this may be any combination of 18- and 9-holes*) with your card marked by someone who understands the Rules of Golf. (e.g. The Club Manager, Club Pro, Club captain, a committee member or another member).
Once your rounds are completed the ‘handicap committee’ will consider the scores you have made and, taking into account any previous golfing experience you may have had as well as any other sporting achievements, will ‘award’ you a handicap.
Then, every time you play in a qualifying competition your handicap may go up or down.
How to calculate your Golf Handicap – HANDICAP CATEGORIES*…
Handicaps are divided into different bands – called categories.
Depending on which category you are in, the amount your handicap can go down varies.
Also, the amount you can play over your handicap (called buffer zone) varies before your handicap increases.
Golf Handicaps of 5 or less
Buffer Zone = 0 to 1 shot
Adjustment factor = 0.1
Golf Handicaps of 6 to 12 inclusive
Buffer Zone = 0 to 2 shots
Adjustment factor = 0.2
Golf Handicaps of 13 to 20 inclusive
Buffer Zone = 0 to 3 shots
Adjustment factor = 0.3
Golf Handicaps of 21 to 28 inclusive
Buffer Zone = 0 to 4 shots
Adjustment factor = 0.4
Category 5 (N.B. This category is for Women Only – they can have a Handicap fo Up to 36)
Golf Handicaps of 29 to 36 inclusive
Buffer Zone = 0 to 5 shots
Adjustment factor = 0.5
N.B. Everyone’s handicap is calculated to 1 decimal place but their playing handicap is the nearest whole number.
E.g. David’s exact handicap is 22.1 and his playing handicap is 22. Sue’s exact handicap is 10.5 so her playing handicap is 11. 3
How to calculate your Golf Handicap – Other things to know…
If you play ‘below’ your handicap, your handicap will be reduced by a certain decimal point for every shot under (see categories above).
However, if you play above your handicap (i.e. more than your expected GROSS Score, your handicap will be increased by 0.1.
You are allowed some leeway (this is your buffer zone – see categories above for different buffer zones), but once you are above your buffer zone, your handicap goes up.
The Good news is that no-one is expected to be able to play to their handicap for every round.
There is some flexibility: if you play within your buffer zone your handicap will not alter.
Under CONGU® rules, every time you compete in a competition you should return your card.
This is firstly so the competition organiser knows that you have played in the competition and secondly because the organiser may want to check your marker’s score which is on your card.
It is against the spirit of the game to put your poor scorecard in your pocket and drive home.
As already noted, it is your responsibility to play off the correct handicap. If you believe you have played under your handicap you must calculate your new handicap before playing in another competition.
Finally, when moving between handicap categories, the calculation gets a bit more complicated.
However, this is when The Social Golfer Handicap System** comes into its own. Just add your scores after every round and let our Handicap calculating system do the rest.
Once you have added your scores, TSG PRO account holders can then print off a copy of their TSG Handicap Certificate.
So there you have it, no more arguments on the first tee about who’s playing of what handicap!
By Ian Mullins
* source via www.congu.co.uk
**While The Social Golfer Handicap system is calculated using the similar formula as CONGU®, it is paramount that golfers know that no online handicap system is sanctioned by CONGU® and can therefore not be used in official club competitions. However, Online Golf Handicap Certificates are widely accepted as a ‘proof of playing’ standard by most clubs for casual play.