Date: February 27, 2018

Q&A: The World Handicap System’s new Soft Cap regulation

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What is the new Soft Cap regulation that will operate in Australia under the World Handicap System?

There will be a Hard Cap of 5 strokes as per GA’s current regulation.  There will also be a Soft Cap currently set at 3 strokes which will be a new regulation for Australia.  The Soft Cap will allow a player normal increases in their GA Handicap unless it increases to 3 strokes above their best GA Handicap from the previous 12-month period.  Above this point the GA Handicap will only be permitted to increase by 50% of the calculated amount.

• Identify each player’s best GA Handicap within the trailing 12-month period (this is the “Anchor Point”).

• Allow unrestrained increases in a player’s GA Handicap in accordance with the '8 of 20' calculation – up to the point where their GA Handicap is calculated to be more than 3.0 strokes higher than the Anchor Point.

• Where the '8 of 20' calculation is greater than 3 strokes above the Anchor Point, the GA Handicap is calculated to be: GA Handicap = Anchor Point + 3 + 50% of the amount above the 3-stroke buffer.

• There will be an additional ‘absolute’ Cap of 5 strokes.

Can you provide some examples?

• EXAMPLE 1: A player’s '8 of 20' calculation is 15.2.  Their best GA Handicap within the trailing 12-month period is 11.2.  Their GA Handicap is 14.7 (ie 11.2 + 3 + (50% of 1)).

• EXAMPLE 2: A player’s '8 of 20' calculation is 17.2.  Their best GA Handicap within the trailing 12-month period is 11.2.  Their GA Handicap is 15.7 (ie 11.2 + 3 + (50% of 3)).

What proportion of players will be impacted by the new Soft Cap regulation?

Modelling indicates that the Soft Cap will impact up to 20% of the total number of handicap calculations performed by GOLF Link each year.  The introduction of the Soft Cap will reduce the percentage of players impacted by the Hard Cap from 5% down to less than 1.5% – so less players will experience the frustration of receiving no handicap increases during a prolonged run of poor form.

What is GA’s view of the new Soft Cap regulation?

GA has been aware for some time that our existing system produces a competitive advantage to the inconsistent player over the consistent player and we have been looking for a way to soften this outcome.  The Soft Cap will improve this situation and will improve the equity of Australian handicapping.  GA believes the Soft Cap represents a distinct improvement to Australian handicapping.

How do the R&A and USGA describe the objectives of the Soft Cap and Hard Cap?

“The Soft Cap and Hard Cap will work together to eliminate the capacity for extreme upward movement of a GA Handicap within a specified period of time.  This has the effect that a temporary loss of form does not cause a player’s GA Handicap to move too far from a level which is consistent with their underlying potential.

This limitation also acts as an anti-abuse safeguard.  Medical condition or injuries aside, underlying potential usually does not decline particularly rapidly due to a series of poor scores.”  (Note: Clubs will always retain the capacity to increase a player’s GA Handicap to accommodate the impact of medical conditions, injuries, or other exceptional circumstances.)