Date: March 22, 2013
Author: Golf NZ

Golf Australia experience to aid NZ Handicapping review

New Zealand Golf has today commenced a thorough review of the current national handicap system. New Zealand Golf introduced the USGA handicapping system in the year 2000. At the same time the DotGolf public website was launched, which for the first time provided the ultimate peer review of handicaps. After 13 years, it is now timely to review our handicapping system so New Zealand Golf will therefore be leading a review process into the Handicap System over the coming nine months. The purpose of the national handicap system is to make the game of golf more enjoyable by enabling players of differing abilities to compete on an equitable basis. The objective of undertaking a review of the current New Zealand Golf system is to ensure that an appropriate stage is being providing for this to occur. Golf is unique in that any player, no matter what their ability or playing level, whether Michael Campbell or a beginner, can be provided a handicap and therefore compete against each other equitably. At this outset of this review process, it is important for all of us to remember that there is no perfect system. As mentioned in the introduction to the CONGU method of handicapping, It is recognized that handicapping, due to the nature of the game of golf with its varying playing conditions, is not an exact operation . Golf is the largest participation and membership sport in New Zealand and the handicap system affects close to 115,000 members so it is important that this review process is thorough. There are many matters to consider and many areas that need to be investigated. Currently we use the USGA Handicap and Course Rating system, which is the most universally used, but as with all our golf delivery, we need to keep reviewing and ensuring that we are providing the best system possible for our conditions said Chief Executive Dean Murphy. In the first instance, clear identification of any issues that players and golf clubs currently perceive or experience with the current system need to be established. By way of online survey, New Zealand Golf will be seeking information from all Golf Clubs and have also made available on the website ( the opportunity for any golfer to complete a simple survey in regard to the current system. All golf clubs will receive the handicap online survey in the coming days and we ask that you pass this around to all appropriate people at the club to complete. In addition to the golf club and club member surveys, New Zealand Golf will consult closely with the USGA. They will also seek advice from the R&A who after 250 years of existence are considering getting involved with a handicap system for the first time. Across the Tasman, Golf Australia has spent the last three years working on changes to their handicap system, which has provided many challenges. The outcome is they have taken the main workings of the USGA system and made some changes they believe more pertinent to their playing culture. We have a fantastic and growing relationship with our colleagues at Golf Australia, so their experience will also add to our thinking and review said Murphy. Following the review processes outlined, we will weigh up all results and then consider if we can provide a better product. This will be tested thoroughly before we introduce any changes, as we realize that the flip side of having such a wonderful game allowing this equitable competition, is that our courses and playing conditions vary so much, as do playing habits, meaning handicapping is an imperfect science. You only need to look at this incredible summer we have had to realize the effect it has had on playing surfaces. Any changes will be conveyed to Golf Clubs and District Associations well in advance and trials with any changes introduced on January 1, 2014.