Date: September 24, 2014
Author: GA Rules


When the new GA Handicap System came into effect on 23 January 2014, it required that players in Stroke rounds be handicapped on their Stableford score.  What score is a player handicapped on in a Par round?

Clubs continue to play Par competitions exactly as they did prior to the introduction of the new handicap system (players do not record Stableford scores in Par competitions). Any round played under the Par scoring system is converted by GOLF Link into a Stableford score by adding 36 points to the player’s final result (for example GOLF Link will convert a score of 4 down into 32 points; the score of 32 points is the player’s Handicapping Score).

Does this represent a change to the way players were previously handicapped in Par competitions?

No.  This is the way players have been handicapped in Par competitions in Australia for decades.

Some people say it is harder to make a good score in Par than in Stableford because you can make 4 points on a hole in Stableford but you don’t get credited with a ‘double plus’ in Par.  Is Par a harder game?

No.  In general players make notably more ‘wipes’ or ‘washes’ in Stableford than they have 4-point holes.  And it takes two 3-point holes in Stableford to make up for a wipe whereas in Par it only takes one hole to make up for a ‘wipe’.  Detailed statistical analysis demonstrates that depending on a player’s handicap they score approximately 1.5-2 strokes better in Par than they do in Stableford.

So does that mean my handicap will be lower if I play more Par events?

No.  That it is easier to make a good score in Par has been taken into account in the design of the DSR formulas – the formulas are different for Par than for Stableford.

That all makes sense, but because of ‘double-pluses’ and ‘wipes’ (1 Stableford point equates to a wipe in Par and 0 Stableford points also equates to a wipe in Par) it is possible in some cases for a player to get quite a different result in Par than they would if they had been playing Stableford.  Wouldn’t it be more equitable to require all players in a Par event to only pick up if they’ve had the equivalent of 0 Stableford points and then to get every player to return a Stableford score as well as a Par score?

Golf Australia has discussed this as an option with many clubs in focus group sessions however there was very little sentiment for the idea. 

There were two main reasons given for this negative sentiment. 

Firstly, some clubs conduct Par events for pace of play reasons, especially in winter when there is less daylight, (Par is quicker than Stableford and Stroke) and it would defeat the purpose of playing a Par event if players were required to play an extra stroke before they could pick-up. 

Secondly, the strong view of clubs was that to play a Par event in this way would be totally contrary to the spirit of Par and that if a regulation such as this were introduced it would serve as a notable disincentive to many clubs when considering to schedule Par events.