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1. Handicap Calculation Method

1.1) What is a handicap supposed to represent?
A handicap, contrary to widespread belief, is not supposed to represent your average score or differential, but rather your potential for scoring. When you are playing at your best, what is your level of play, your potential best scoring? That's what handicaps seek to represent.

1.2) How is my handicap calculated?
The handicap calculation is complex and will be managed by the SAGA Handicap Server. If you wish to perform an approximate check, you may do so as follows:
a) Provided that you have at least 20 valid differentials in your 'Handicap Record Sheet', you should select the 10 lowest of these (Differential = Adjusted Gross - Standard Rating)
b) Average them
c) Multiply the result by 0.96 to get what is known as the exact handicap
d) Then round the exact handicap to the nearest whole number to get your playing handicap. Decimal values of 0.1 – 0.4 round down and 0.5 – 0.9 round up.

Should there be two or more scores among these 20 entries for which the differential is three or more strokes less than what your handicap was at the time of the round, only your best eight differentials will be used to compute your handicap.

If you are new to the system and have at least five but fewer than 20 scores in your 'Handicap Record Sheet', the number of differentials used for your handicap calculation will be determined as per the table in section 7.8 of the SAGA Handicap Manual.

1.3) How often is my handicap calculated?
Your handicap is calculated after every score you submit.

1.4) I've played very badly of late. Why is my handicap not moving out?
It’s important to realise that your worst differentials aren’t considered in your handicap calculation. Only your 10 best differentials are (while the 10 worst ones are disregarded). This means that it's quite normal if you play a number of bad rounds and not see a change in your handicap.

1.5) That's all good, but how on earth is it possible that a very bad score has caused my handicap to come down?
In this situation, you need to compare the differential you entered with the differential that, because of the new entry, is no longer considered in the handicap calculation—the 21st most recent differential, in other words. In all likelihood, the new differential is better than the old one. You may also have unknowingly received a penalty (please see section 6).
Whenever a handicap is computed or re-computed by the SAGA Handicap System, the differentials considered for inclusion in that computation will be indicated in a different colour (currently red). Those differentials actually used in the calculation will be underlined as well.Whenever a handicap is computed or re-computed by the SAGA Handicap System, the differentials considered for inclusion in that computation will be indicated in a different colour (currently red). Those differentials actually used in the calculation will be underlined as well.

2. Entering and Editing of Scores

2.1) Where do I enter scores?
Scores can be entered at any handicap terminal (situated at any affiliated golf club in South Africa and some neighbouring states), online via the 'Golfer Login' section of the website, via one of the SAGA Golf mobile applications, or by contacting your home club. (Please note that Handicaps Network Africa cannot enter scores on your behalf. Only your home club can.)

2.2) Do I have to enter a score for every round I play?
Yes, a score must be entered for every round that you play except in the following situations:
- When the score cannot be ratified by a playing partner or competitor
- When the round was not played in line with the Rules of Golf
- When the types of clubs were limited (as in a competition in which only iron clubs are allowed)
- When the round played included the use of 'Mulligans'
- When it was a pure match-play round
- When the course was not officially rated
- When the player used non-conforming equipment, or, with respect to Rule 14-3 (Rules of Golf) where an artificial device was used in the execution of stroke, or when equipment was used in an unusual manner during the execution of a stroke

2.3) What score do I need to enter?
The handicap system uses an Adjusted Gross score when calculating the differential for each round played. An Adjusted Gross is obtained by applying the below maximum score rule to the score achieved on each hole or for unfinished holes where the score was likley to be higher than the maximum allowed.

The maximum score on a hole for handicap purposes is two over par, except where a player has two handicap strokes on a hole, in which case the maximum score allowed is three over par for that hole.

Where a player is unsure of how to adjust the gross on each hole, the player may enter the scores achieved on each hole using the 'Hole-by-Hole' scoring function available on the terminals, website and mobi apps/browsers. The system will then automatically adjust the players actual score to the maximum allowed per hole and calculate a total Adjusted Gross for the round.

2.4) What score do I enter for a particular hole if I do not finish it?
In this case you are required to enter the most likely score you would have achieved from the position you are in when picking up your ball. As per the definition in the SAGA Handicap Manual - A most likely score is the score a player would most likely have achieved if he started the hole but did not complete the hole or if a player is conceded a stroke. This should be calculated as to the number of strokes already taken plus the number of strokes the player was most likely to have achieved more than 50% of the time.

2.5) Is anybody else able to enter a score for me?
Yes, your home club can enter scores for you.

2.6) I entered my score incorrectly. Can somebody fix this?
Yes, your home club will be able to correct the entry for you.

2.7) Is there a time limit for the entering of scores?
All scores must be submitted within 72 hours of the completion of the round. The period of 72 hours is taken from 21h00 on the day of play to 21h00 three days later. Scores not returned during this period will result in a penalty score. Please note that the onus is on the player to make sure that their scores are recorded successfully. They can do so by visiting their 'Handicap Record Sheet'. If a score doesn't show here, then it hasn't been entered successfully and it will have to be resubmitted.

2.8) Can I enter scores for rounds played outside of South Africa?
Yes, scores can be entered for courses not registered on our system. These can be entered on the system after selecting the 'Foreign/Other' option during step 1 of the score-entering process. Please make sure you know the par rating and standard rating (SR) of the course (to be found on the scorecard), as these will have to submitted.

2.9) I'm struggling to enter my score via How does one do this?
After logging in to your account via the 'Golfer Login' section, click on 'Enter Score', then complete every stage during Step 1 of the process: Date, AM/PM, Club, Course, Tee, Holes. Pay special attention to the final stage, where you have to select the number of holes you played. You need to select either 'FULL 18' or '1ST 9 (OUT)' or '2ND 9 (IN)' by clicking on the relevant icon.

If you do all of this correctly, Step 2 will appear. Here you need to select either 'HOLE-BY-HOLE' or 'QUICK' or 'NO RETURN'—again by clicking on the relevant icon. If you select 'HOLE-BY-HOLE', you'll have to enter a score for each hole of the course you played. If you select 'QUICK', you'll simply have to enter your Adjusted Gross score. If you select 'NO RETURN', you won't have to enter anything, as this option will effectively cancel out your round.

Having made your selection and entered the required informtion, simply hit 'SUBMIT'.

3. Score Validity

3) I don‘t play golf regularly. Am I at risk of not having enough scores to retain a handicap?
The minimum number of scores required in order to compute a handicap is 5. A player's entire scoring history is considered valid for handicap purposes. If you have not entered at least five scores your handicap will be displayed as ‘N/A‘.

4. N/A Handicaps

4) Why is my handicap displaying as N/A?
For one of two reasons: 1) you don't have at least five valid scores on your profile, or 2) you have two or more open rounds against your name (these rounds will have to be closed before you receive an official handicap again).

5. Handicaps for foreign players

5.1) I am handicapped at a local and foreign club. Which handicap do I play off in South Africa?
You must always play off the lower of your two handicaps, unless you have been entering all of your overseas scores onto the SAGA handicap system and they are therefore being considered in your handicap calculation.

5.2) Should I enter my foreign scores on the SAGA Handicap system?
Yes, players should enter their rounds played at foreign clubs in order to keep their handicap up to date on the South African system.

6. Penalty Scores

6.1) Why did I receive a penalty score?
Penalty scores are added if you fail to enter a score within the 72-hour window period allowed for score entry, which starts from the time your round is completed. A penalty will be given as soon as your late score is entered into the system. This is done to ensure all handicaps are up to date and to stop people from delaying score entry prior to month end, or to delaying putting in exceptional scores.

6.2) How is a penalty score calculated?
A penalty score is the lowest differential of the player’s last 20 recorded scores added to the Standard Rating of the course played. Where the late entered score is equal to or lower than the players lowest of their last 20 differentials, the system will allocate 1 penalty stroke for handicaps below 4, and 20% of the players handicap for handicaps above 4 to a maximum of 4 strokes.

6.3) How long will a penalty score be considered in my handicap calculation?
A penalty score will be considered in your handicap calculation until it falls out of your most recent 20 scores.

6.4) Is it possible to remove a penalty score?
Yes. If you feel that you received a penalty score unfairly (it might not have been possible for you to enter a score in good time), please get touch with your home club, who'll look into the matter and remove it if necessary. Please note that the onus is on the player to make sure that their scores have been recorded successfully. They can do this by visiting their 'Handicap Record Sheet'. If a score doesn't show here, then it hasn't been entered successfully and it will have to be resubmitted.

7. Maximum Scores

7.1) What is the maximum score I can enter per hole?
The maximum score on a hole for handicap purposes is two over par, except where a player has two handicap strokes on a hole, in which case the maximum score allowed is three over par for that hole.

7.2) Is it compulsory for me to adhear to the maximum score rule?
Yes, this is compulsory.

8. Exceptional Score

8.1) What is an exceptional score?
A score is flagged as exceptional when the differential (Adjusted Gross Score – the Standard Rating of the tee) is three or more strokes less than the player’s handicap at the time the round was played.

8.2) How can an exceptional score effect my handicap?
Having a single exceptional score in your last 20 rounds will not have any impact on your handicap. However, should you score a second exceptional score within your 20 most recent scores, then the system will use your best eight scores to compute your handicap.

In simple terms, a player is allowed to have one really good round in their last 20 and no action is taken. Should they have two or more very good rounds, the number of differentials used in the handicap calculation will be reduced from ten to eight.

8.3) How long will this affect my handicap?
A player’s handicap will be calculated using the best eight differentials until there is only one exceptional score among their last 20 scores.

9. Nine-hole Scores

9.1) Must I enter a nine-hole score for handicap purposes?
Yes. Players are obliged to enter all nine-hole scores into the handicap system, except where the rounds do not qualify as per section 5.7 in the SAGA Handicap Manual, copied below for easy reference:

- When the score cannot be ratified by a playing partner or competitor.
- When the types of clubs are limited (as in a competition in which only iron clubs are allowed).
- When the round played includes the use of 'Mulligans'.
- Pure match Play Rounds
- When more than one ball is used
- When the course is not officially rated
- When the player uses non-conforming clubs, balls or tees, or with respect to Rule 14-3 (Rules of Golf) where an artificial device is used in the execution of stroke or when equipment is used in an unusual manner during the execution of a stroke

9.2) How is the differential worked out for a nine-hole score?
The system will use the players adjusted gross for the nine holes played, and then add the par rating for the other nine plus 50% of the player’s handicap (rounded down for 0 – 36 handicaps and up for plus handicaps). This percentage may be changed by the SAGA Handicap Committee from time to time depending on statistical analysis.

9.3) Is there a limit to the number of nine-hole scores I can enter?
No, there is no limit to the number of scores one can enter on the system.

9.4) Can I receive an 'Exceptional' round for a nine-hole score?
No, you cannot receive an 'Exceptional' round for a nine-hole score.

9.5) Will I receive a penalty for entering a nine-hole score late?

Yes, you will receive a penalty for all rounds, except foreign rounds, entered late on the system.

10. Incomplete Holes

10) What score should I enter if I do not finish a hole?
It is advised that all players finish every hole, but in the case that you do not finish the hole or putt out, you should record the score you would most likely have achieved more than 50% of the time, from the position you were in when you picked up your ball. If the most likely score is above the maximum allowed on a hole, then the maximum allowed score should be used for that hole.

11. Incomplete Rounds

11.1) What do I enter for uncompleted rounds?
If a player completes 13 or more holes, they must post an 18-hole score. If 7 to 12 holes are played, the player must post a nine-hole score. In either case, scores for unplayed holes must be recorded as par plus any handicap strokes that the player is entitled to receive on the unplayed holes.

Example: A player with a handicap of 24 stops playing after 16 holes because of lightning. Hole 17 is a par three with a stroke of 18. The player will record a gross score of four on this hole (3 + one handicap stroke). Hole 18 is a par four with a stroke of six. The player will record a gross score of six on this hole (4 + two handicap strokes).

11.2) What do I enter if I played less than seven holes—or didn't even start the round (because of heavy rain, for instance)?
A 'No Return' (NR). This will essentially cancel out the round. In other words, it will have no effect on your handicap.

12. Scores not acceptable

12) What scores can I not enter on the handicap system?
The following scores cannot be entered for handicap purposes and a 'No Return' should be entered on the system for these rounds (which will effectively cancel them out):
- When the score cannot be ratified by a playing partner or competitor.
- When the types of clubs are limited (as in a competition in which only iron clubs are allowed).
- When the round played includes the use of 'Mulligans'
- Pure match Play Rounds (i.e. competition match play scores)
- When more than one ball is used at a time
- When the course is not officially rated
- When the player uses non-conforming clubs, balls or tees, or with respect to Rule 14-3 (Rules of Golf) where an artificial device is used in the execution of stroke or when equipment is used in an unusual manner during the execution of a stroke

13. Forward Tees

13.1) What is the difference between a Forward Tee and a ‘special’ Senior Tee?
A Forward Tee and a ‘special' Senior Tee are very different and they are treated differently for handicap purposes. A Forward Tee is a full set of tees with an official Standard Rating as provided by the relevant Provincial Union. It is available for all members to play in the same manner as the Club Tee and the Championship Tee.  

The use of Senior Tees are discouraged by the SAGA and should only be found at certain clubs on a hole where the front tee still does not allow very senior players to reach the fairway, or the club is not able to set up a full set of forward tees. In this instance a ‘special’ Senior Tee may be made available by the club for certain of their members.  

Please see the relevant excerpts from the SAGA Handicap Manual with regard to Forward Tees and special Senior Tees at the bottom of this page or section 5.9 and section 17 in the Handicap Manual.   

13.2) The front tee is called the Senior Tee at our club, what now?
Historically many clubs called their front tee the Senior Tee and some have been slow in renaming these to Forward Tees and having them officially rated by the local Union. Because Senior Tees are only ad hoc tees there will not be a full set of tees listed for them on the handicap system. For this reason if your so called Senior Tee is reflected on the handicap system with a Standard Rating less than the club tee, then it is safe to say that the Senior Tee listed at your club is in actual fact a Forward Tee. For clarity we suggest questioning your club in this regard.

13.3) Who is allowed to play off the Forward Tee?
Any golfer is entitled to play off the Forward Tee in a social round and enter the score for handicap purposes using the Standard Rating of the Forward Tee. For competition rounds clubs are encouraged to allow senior and junior (those not handicapped off the ladies tees) members to play off the front tees and to adjust their handicaps down by the difference in the Standard Rating of the forward tee and the Standard Rating of the tee being used in the competition.

13.4) Do I need to request permission from the club to play from the Forward Tees?
No, any golfer is entitled to play from the Forward Tees in a social round and enter the score for handicap purposes. Golfers can also move between the Forward, Club and Championship Tees for different rounds should they wish to do so. For competition rounds it is advised that players get the necessary authorisation from the competition organisers before teeing off from the Forward Tee and they must ensure that they adjust their handicap accordingly.

13.5) How are clubs meant to deal with Seniors transitioning from the normal Club Tees to the Forward Tees?
A ‘transition’ from the Club Tees to the Forward Tees is not required. As long as both sets of tees are correctly rated by the Union no change needs to be made to the player’s handicap as the difference in Standard Rating between the tees takes into consideration the shorter/easier course and the differential for their handicap is adjusted accordingly.   

13.6) Does my handicap have to be cut if I choose to play off the Forward Tees?
Not for social rounds unless players are playing against one another from differently rated tees. So no adjustment is necessary, provided all the players in a four ball or both players in a two ball are playing from the same tees. 

A handicap adjustment is only required if golfers play off the Forward Tee in a competition or game where they are competing with others off a different rated tee. The adjustment is equal to the difference between the Forward Tee and the tee from which the competition or other players are playing.

13.7) I always play off the front tee, why do I have to cut my handicap when playing off the Forward Tee in a competition but not in a social round?
When entering a score for handicap purposes you record the adjusted gross score and the system records the difference between your score and the Standard Rating (SR) of the set of tees and not Par for the course. The Standard Rating thus already takes into consideration the shorter/easier course and adjusts the differential used in the handicap calculation accordingly. When playing in a competition the scores are calculated relative to Par and since you are playing a shorter/easier course you need to adjust your handicap down by the difference in the Standard Rating of the tees. This also applies to ladies competing against men from tees with different stroke ratings.

Example: A 10 handicap player shoots 82 off the Club Tee with Standard Rating (SR) 72 and Par 72. For handicap purposes the player’s differential is therefore 10 and he played to his handicap. If the same player shoots 80 off the Front Tee with a Par 72 but  SR 70, for handicap purposes the differential would still be 10 and he played to his handicap, but the competition Stableford scores would be 36 points and 38 points respectively.Therefore for competition purposes the golfer should play of an 8 handicap: SR 72 – SR 70 = 2 and 10-2=8. So if he shoots 80 off the SR70 Front Tees he will have played to this adjusted eight handicap and will enter 36 points in the competition and will not have gained any advantage over the rest of the field playing off the Club Tees.

13.8) What score do I enter for handicap purposes when playing off the Forward Tee in a competition and therefore I make the necessary adjustment to my handicap?
The score entered for handicap purposes will always be the adjusted gross score achieved with a maximum score on any hole of two over par if your handicap is 18 and below and three over par on any holes where you double stroke if your handicap is above 18. Provided you select the Front Tee on the handicap terminal the system will then take the difference between your gross score and Standard Rating of the Front Tee, and record this as one of your handicap differential scores. The adjusted handicap used in the competition is purely for the competition scoring.

13.9) What tee do I enter my score off of if I play off the ‘special’ Senior Tees?
For any round in which special Senior Tees were used the score should be entered on the handicap system by selecting the tee on the handicap system from which all other holes were played.

13.10) My club’s Forward Tee Standard Rating is the same as the Club Tee, is that correct?
The par of a course across all tees will be the same, for example 72. The Standard Rating of each tee will however differ based on the length and difficulty level of the particular tee, for example Championship Tee – 73, Club Tee – 71 and Forward Tee – 70. If any of your club’s tees have the same Standard Rating, then it is likely that one of the ratings is incorrect on the system and you should advise your club immediately. An incorrect rating will mean that the handicap scores recorded from the incorrectly rated tee will be either too high or too low when compared to other tees or courses.   

13.11) My club has changed the rating of the forward tee from which I normally play, down by two strokes  from 72 to 70 and we now have to deduct two strokes for handicap purposes when playing in a competition, but my handicap has not yet reflected the scores using the new Standard Rating.
If you have at least five or more scores in your best 10 from your last 20 which were recorded on the tee with the old incorrect rating, then the club administrator and or handicapper should adjust these scores to reflect the correct differentials based on the (new) Standard Rating and recalculate your handicap accordingly. Alternatively as you play off the correct rating these scores will filter through into your handicap which will then go up by a percentage of the difference in the rating and could be as much as two strokes at your course.

13.12) Who governs the rules regarding the use of Forward Tees?
The use of Forward Tees are governed by the rules as outlined in section 17 of the SAGA Handicap Manual. 

13.13) Who governs the rules regarding the use of ‘special’ Senior Tees?  
The conditions of use of ‘special’ Senior Tees are managed by the club at which these ad hoc tees have been implemented.

13.14) I still don’t understand, I only play off the Forward Tees, so surely I am handicapped off the Forward Tee?
It is very important to remember that you are not handicapped on a particular tee relative to par of the course, but rather the adjusted gross score relative to the Standard Rating of the tee you played. Playing from an officially rated Forward Tee could be no different to playing from the Club Tee at another course if they have the same rating. To explain in more detail, the basic handicap calculation is based on the best 10 differentials of a player’s last 20 scores. A differential is the difference between the adjusted gross score entered on the system and the Standard Rating of the tee from which the round was played.

Example one: If a golfer enters an adjusted gross score of 82 off the Club Tee with a Standard Rating of 72 their differential will be 10. Likewise, if the same golfer now plays from the Forward Tee which is two shots easier with a Standard Rating of 70, and they shoot an 80, the differential of 10 will be the same for handicap purposes.

Example two: If we assume we have an 18 handicap golfer and he plays to his handicap each round at a course with a par 72  and it has three different tees with standard ratings of 68, 70 and 71. The following are his scores and Stableford points  if he plays to his handicap off each tee.


Relevant Forward Tee extracts from the SAGA Handicap Manual

5.9 Use of Forward Tees and Front Tees
17.1 Development and Rating of Forward Tees
17.2 Use of Forward Tees in club competitions
17.3 Front Tees

14. Discovery Vitality

14.1)  How do I link my Vitality and HNA memberships?
- Log in to the 'Golfer Login' section on
- Go to ‘My Account’
- Click on the ‘Activate’ button next to the orange Discovery Vitality logo
- Fill in your Discovery Health number and click submit

For the next few days you'll see a message in that space that reads 'Status: Pending'. This will change to 'Status: Active' when your account has been validated by Discovery. You'll receive an email when this happens. If you don't receive this email within five days, please contact 0860 99 88 77.

14.2) When will I not earn Vitality points?
- When you have not linked your Vitality membership details to the HNA database
- When you enter a ‘No Return’
- When you receive a penalty score
- When you don’t enter a score after your game

14.3) Can points be backdated?
No, you will only earn Vitality points for scores you enter after you have linked your Vitality and HNA memberships.

14.4) Where can I view how many Vitality points I've earned?
You can view a detailed breakdown of the points you have earned recently on the Vitality Points Monitor.

14.5) I am a member of Vitality but not of an SAGA-affiliated golf club. Can I still earn Vitality points for playing rounds of golf?
No, only individuals who are a member of both Discovery Vitality and an SAGA-affiliated golf club can earn Vitality points for playing rounds of golf.

If you have any additional queries, please visit the Discovery Vitality support page or call 0860 99 88 77.

15. GPS Maps

15.1) What is GPS Maps?
GPS Maps is a feature on the HNA Handicaps App that gives you accurate 3D hole maps and precise distance indicators while you are on the course. The feature is currently only available on Apple iOS (iPhones but not also Apple Watches). FunGolf, the German company that integrated GPS Maps into our app, is yet to give us an indication of when a version for Android will be available. News on this front will be communicated via the HNA Newsletter.

15.2) How do I access GPS Maps?

As a member of an SAGA-affiliated golf club, you can gain access to a free trial version of GPS Maps, whereby you'll be able to view the first three holes of all the biggest courses in South Africa. You simply have to do the following:
- Download the HNA Handicaps App or update to the latest version
- Open the app, log in, then click on 'GPS Course Map'
- Search for the course you want to view
- Click on the course's name and let the map load

To get access to the full version, whereby you'll be able to view all of the holes of the over 200 courses on the feature, you need to subscribe via an in-app purchase (R139.99 per year). The offer will pop up when you try to view the fourth hole of any of the courses.
Screen Shot 2016 12 01 at 1.07.45 PM
15.3) My distances aren't updating. The blue dot, which is suppose to follow me wherever I go, just remains on the tee box. What's causing this?
Mostly likely the location services on your iPhone has been disabled, which is preventing your location from being picked up. Activate your phone's location services, which can be done under its settings, and the problem should disappear.

16. Registered Rounds Percentage

16.1) What is the Registered Rounds Percentage?
The Registered Rounds Percentage is the latest addition to the handicap system and indicates how many of a golfer’s last 20 scores have been registered at the club before playing.
August Handicap News Introducing Registered Rounds Percentage

16.2) How do I register a round?
By visiting the pro shop before your round, handing the attendant your handicap card, and asking them to do so. Please note that the onus is on the player to get their rounds registered.

16.3) When will the Registered Rounds Percentage be calculated?

The Registered Rounds Percentage will be computed at the end of each day, along with the handicap calculation. It will not be possible to declare a ‘Foreign Round’ as a Registered Round.

16.4) How will 'Foreign Rounds', which can't registered, affect my percentage?
Foreign rounds only affect your RR percentage insofar as they shrink the pool of rounds used in the calculation. So if there are, for instance, five foreign rounds among your last 20 entries, only 15 of those will be used to calculate the percentage.

16.5) Does my club have the ability to register rounds for me?
All clubs in South Africa have the ability to register rounds for players, either via their Handicap Terminal’s Open Round button (if enabled) or via their club’s back-of-office service provider.

If a club has access to neither they can make use of our free Open Round Registration Software, which can be loaded onto any PC, and should be placed close to the Players' Registration office. All this requires is an Internet connection and card reader.

16.6) What if I do everything in my power to get my round registered, but the club's not able to? What if their internet connection is down for the day, for instance?
In the unique situation where it's not possible for a club to open a round for you, you can get in touch with your home club's handicap administrator and ask whether they'll consider marking your round as registered after the fact. You'll be expected to prove that it was absolutely impossible for the club in question to register your round either before or during your time on the course.

16.7) I didn’t even know about Registered Rounds and now my low score makes me look bad. Will people think I’m a cheat?
Since we launched all Registered Rounds Percentages at 100%, the chances are that most scores are still very high. Some might even remain at 100%. However, there could be some golfers who missed the communication and have seen their percentage drop significantly.

This does not in any way imply that you are a cheat, but it is advisable to get into the habit of making sure your club registers your round by opening it on the handicap system in order to avoid your percentage slipping further.

16.8) How do I get my Registered Rounds Percentage back up?
It’s simple—make sure you head to the pro shop and ask them to register (open) your round on the system each and every time you play. In no time you will knock out those unregistered rounds and get your percentage back up again.

16.9) Does my Registered Rounds Percentage affect my handicap?
Not at all—the figure is only there to show how often you have gone through the right channels when you have played, by having the club open your round.

17. World Handicap System

17.1) What is the World Handicap System (WHS) all about?
Golf already has a single set of playing Rules, a single set of equipment Rules and a single set of Rules of Amateur Status overseen by the USGA and The R&A. Yet, today there are six different handicap systems used around the world. Each is well developed and successfully provides equity for play locally, but each of the different systems produces slightly differing results. The WHS will unify the six systems into a single system that will:

– enable golfers of different ability to play and compete on a fair and equitable basis, in any format, on any course, anywhere around the world;
– be easy to understand and implement, without sacrificing accuracy; and
– meet the varied needs and expectations of golfers, golf clubs and golf authorities all around the world and be adaptable to suit all golfing cultures.

After significant engagement and collaboration with the existing handicapping authorities and other National Associations, it has been agreed that the time is right to bring the different handicapping systems together as a fourth set of Rules, in support of the global game.  

In addition, this project has provided an opportunity for the existing handicapping authorities to come together and share their combined experiences to produce a system which is modern and relevant for the way the game is played today around the world.

The WHS will encompass both the Rules of Handicapping and the Course Rating System (formerly the USGA Course Rating and Slope System).

17.2) What are the benefits of the World Handicap System?
As the world becomes a smaller place with a much greater frequency of international play (as demonstrated by golf returning to the Olympics in 2016), we believe the development of a single handicap system will result in easier administration of international events and, potentially, allow National Associations more opportunity to focus attention on golf development and strategic planning to support the sport. It would also provide the opportunity to evaluate de-personal golfing data to help monitor the health of the game.  

17.3) How will existing handicaps be used for the World Handicap System? Also, is my handicap expected to change when the system goes live?
Existing scoring records will be retained and, where possible, be used to calculate a handicap under the WHS. For most players, their handicap will change only slightly as they will be coming from systems which are generally similar to the WHS. However, this will be dependent on many factors – including the number of scores available upon which the calculation of a handicap can be based. National Associations are being encouraged to communicate this message to clubs and golfers, i.e. that the more scores available in the scoring record at the time of transition, the less impact golfers will feel on their handicap.

17.4) Will the World Handicap System impact the way the game is played in my country or region?
It is not our intention to try to force a change on the way that golf is played around the world or to try and remove the variations. The cultural diversity that exists within the game, including different formats of play and degrees of competitiveness, is what makes the sport so universally popular. Through collaboration with National Associations, the goal has been to try to accommodate those cultural differences within a single WHS.
17.5) Does the World Handicap System have the support of all the existing handicapping authorities and other National Associations around the world?
Yes. A series of briefing sessions was conducted all around the world in 2015, which aimed to cover as many National Associations as possible. The reaction was very positive.  It is also worth emphasising that the development of the WHS is a collaborative effort and all the existing handicapping authorities and National Associations who are directly involved in the process are very supportive of the initiative.

Each of the six existing handicapping authorities have recently gone through their own internal approval processes, and all of them have confirmed their support for the new system.  While the USGA and The R&A will oversee the WHS, the day-to-day administration of handicapping will continue to be the responsibility of the existing handicapping authorities and individual National Associations.

17.6) Have you consulted with golfers and golf club administrators about the World Handicap System?  
Yes. We have solicited the opinions of golfers and golf club administrators all around the world via an online survey, to which we received over 52,000 responses. We have also conducted focus group sessions in five markets throughout Europe, the USA and South America. The reaction was overwhelmingly positive; for example, 76% surveyed are supportive, 22% undecided at this stage and only 2% opposed.

17.7) What is the timeline for implementation of the World Handicap System?
We are planning to make the WHS available for implementation by National Associations beginning in January 2020, after an extensive schedule of testing, communication, promotion and education.

17.8) What other details of the World Handicap System can you share?
Further details of the WHS will emerge over the coming months. However, we want to emphasize that it is being designed to be as accessible and inclusive as possible, while still providing golfers with the portability, accuracy and consistency they expect.

Offering a couple of examples, golfers will be able to obtain a handicap after returning a minimal number of scores – the recommendation being as few as three 18-hole scores, six 9-hole scores or a combination of both to comprise 54 holes. Handicaps will not lapse after a period of inactivity and the maximum handicap will be 54.0, regardless of gender. These elements are designed to clear a pathway into the game, enabling players new to the sport to feel more welcomed into the golf community.

While the WHS is intended to encourage more golfers to measure and track their performance, it must enhance the enjoyment of all golfers. Therefore, it will be important for clubs to ensure that new golfers with higher handicaps pick up at the maximum hole score and maintain a good pace-of-play.

17.9) How and when will golfers and golf club administrators be educated on the World Handicap System?
The education roll-out is scheduled to commence in January 2019, and we have already started to work on a strategy for the development of a ‘global-ready’ education plan to support implementation and ongoing operations. National Associations will continue to carry out the responsibility of educating its membership.

17.10) Will the introduction of the World Handicap System have an impact on the current technology infrastructure?  
The methods used to receive scores and compute and maintain handicaps remains at the discretion of each National Association. While implementation of the WHS will invariably impact different technology and computation services in use around the world at various levels, it is anticipated that any disruption will be kept to a minimum.

17.11) Is there a place I can go for more information about the World Handicap System?
You can visit or

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