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1. Handicap Calculation Method

1.1) How is my handicap calculated?
The standard handicap calculation is based on 96% of the average of the 10 best differentials (difference between the adjusted gross and the Standard rating of the tee) from the last 20 scores entered in your profile.

1.2) Will fewer than 10 differentials ever be used to calculate my handicap?
Yes, should you have 2 or more scores in your last 20 for which the differential is three or more less than your  handicap at the time the round was played, then your best eight scores will be used to compute your handicap.

If you are new to the system and have at least 5 but fewer than 20 scores in your profile the number of differentials used for your handicap calculation will be determined as per the table in point 7.8 of the SAGA Handicap Manual which can be found under the ‘Handicaps Info’ section of this site.

1.3) How often is a new handicap calculated?

The handicap calculation is run automatically at midnight on the last day of each month. A handicap calculation can also be triggered by entering a second (or more) exceptional score, receiving a penalty for entry of a late score, by entering/deleting/editing a round for the previous month after the month end calculation or if a calculation is triggered by your home club.

2. Entering 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 www.handicaps.co.za website, via one of the SAGA Golf mobile applications, or by contacting your home club.

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 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.

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 2 over par except where a player has two handicap strokes on a hole, in which case the maximum score allowed is 3 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 has the ability to enter scores for their members.

2.6) 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.

2.7) Can I enter scores for rounds played outside of South Africa?
Yes, scores can be entered for those courses not registered on our system. These can be entered on the system by selecting  “foreign rounds“ using the standard rating of the tee from which the player played.

3. Score Validity

3.1) I don‘t play golf regularily, 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. Only scores recorded in the last 60 months are considered valid for handicap purposes. If you have not entered at leastfive scores within the last 60 months your handicap will be displayed as ‘N/A‘.

3.2) Are scores older than 60 months deleted?
No, scores will not be deleted. They will still be visible but will not be considered for handicap purposes.

4. N/A Handicaps

4.1) Why is my handicap displaying as N/A?
An N/A handicap indicates that a player does not have at least 5 valid scores in their profile. As soon as 5 valid scores have been entered a handicap will automatically be calculated.

4.2) My club has entered five or more scores but my handicap is still displaying as N/A, why is this?
It is vital that your club enters your scores in the correct date sequence (oldest to newest). If they do not do this your handicap will still display as N/A even though thereare 5 scores entered. Please contact your home club and request that they recapture the scores in the correct order.

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 yourtwo 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 penlaty score?
Penalty scoresare entered by the system 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. 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.

7. Maximum Scores

7.1) What is the maxium score I can enter per hole?
The maximum score on a hole for handicap purposes is 2 over par except where a player has two handicap strokes on a hole, in which case the maximum score allowed is 3 over par for that hole.

7.2) Is it compulsory for me to adhear to the maximum score rule?
Yes, this is a 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 2 or more very good rounds the number of differentials used in the handicap calculation will be reduced  from 10 to 8.

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 in their last 20 scores.

9. 9 hole Scores

9.1) Must I enter a 9-hole score for handicap purposes?
Yes. Players are obliged to enter all 9 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 9-hole score?
The system uses your score for the 9-holes played, added to 50% of your handicap plus the par of the other nine not played. This will provide a theoretical 18 hole score. The difference between this score and the Standard Rating of the course played will equal the differential.

9.3) Is there a limit to the number 9-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 9-hole score?
No you cannot receive an "Exceptional“round for a 9-hole score.

9.5) Will I receive a penalty for entering a 9-hole score late?

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

10. Incomplete Holes

10.1) 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 score do I enter if I complete fewer than 9 holes of my 9 or 18 hole round?
In the case that you have not completed at least 9 holes a No Return (N/R) should be entered on the system.

11.2) What score do I enter if I have completed more than 9 but fewer than 18 holes?
In this case you should return a 9 hole score in accordance with the 9 holes that you have completed.

12. Scores not acceptable

12.1) 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:
- 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
- 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 2 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 8 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 2 over par if your handicap is 18 and below and 3 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 2 strokes  from 72 to 70 and we now have to deduct 2 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 5 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 2 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 1: 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 2: 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.

FAQ-forward-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

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