What is a handicap?
A handicap is a number assigned to a player which reflects their ability or relative ability. Handicaps allow players to compete on an equal footing with others. The lower the handicap, the better the player is relative to someone with a higher handicap. Most competitions are played as net competitions and the aim is to achieve net par. Net par is when a player s handicap is deducted from their gross score. So, in a competition on an 18-hole course with a par of 70, a player with a handicap of 6 must have 76 strokes to achieve net par, while a player with a handicap of 32 can have 102 strokes to achieve the same result. A player can get an indication of what their handicap might be by calculating how many strokes they are over par (or more realistically, the course rating). The number of strokes had over the course rating of the course would be approximately what the player s handicap would be.
How do Players get a Handicap?
There are two types of handicaps – an official Golf Australia Handicap and a Golf Australia casual handicap.
- A casual handicap prevents players from playing in official competitions, but it can be used to play against friends and in social events. It also allows players to track their improvement.
- An official Golf Australia Handicap can only be obtained by joining a golf club. Many competitions will require players to have an official Golf Australia Handicap to be eligible to compete.
- Both official and casual handicaps are calculated in the same manner, and a certain number of rounds of either 9-holes or 18-holes must be played before a handicap is allocated. With either handicap the player is allocated a GOLF Link Number, which is a number unique to them. GOLF Link is Australia s handicap system software, and by logging on to www.golflink.com.au players can monitor their scores and view their most up-to-date handicap.
How do Handicaps work?
A player s handicap will increase or decrease (or remain the same) depending on the scores returned. A casual handicap is self managed, therefore scores are entered by the player themselves via the GOLF Link system each time they play. Official handicaps are managed by the golf club of which the player is a member and the club will enter the scores into GOLF Link for its member. If a member plays at another club, that club will enter the scores for the player. In both cases, handicaps are adjusted by GOLF Link automatically. Golf relies on the honesty of competitors, so each player s responsibility with respect to their handicap, whether it is an official or casual handicap is:
- To play each round to the best of their ability, and in accordance with the Rules of Golf, Local Rules and handicap regulations.
- To ensure each eligible round is reported for handicap purposes, irrespective of where the round was played.
- If joining a new club, the club must be advised of any previous handicap history.