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HNA Newsletter - July 2016

This month we urge all golfers to switch to their new handicap cards before the old cards are deactivated. We also highlight Course Rating, and the steps being taken by the SAGA to assist the Provincial Unions to get all South African courses rated according to the USGA course rating system.

Collect your card

We recently launched the new (black) handicap cards and most golfers have collected and activated the new card. However, there are still some golfers who are using the old (grey) handicap card. It is urgent that you collect your new handicap card from your club, as the old cards will be deactivated at the end of July 2016.

From 1 August 2016, only the new (black) cards will work on the handicap terminals.

If, for some reason, you are not able to collect your new handicap card by 1 August 2016, you will still be able to access the handicap system using your manual login details on the handicap terminal, mobile phone app and the website.

Your club will be able to locate your login details under the 'Accounts' – 'My Players' section of the club administration website.

Course Rating

Course rating is, of course, the key component of any handicap system because it is the mechanism that allows golfers playing at different difficulty courses and off different difficulty tees to have equivalent handicaps, since all scores entered on the handicap system are calculated from the tee rating and not the par of the course. The better or more accurate the rating system, the less variance there will be of the handicaps of golfers with the same ability.

While the distance of a hole is a major factor in establishing its relative difficulty, there are many other factors that play an important role in evaluating one hole against another and one tee against another.

The USGA’s course rating system has been adopted by the whole world as the standard rating system. It takes into account numerous factors when rating a hole, such as the expected landing area for a tee shot for both a scratch golfer as well as an 18 handicapper. It also analyses obstacles to get to the landing area, how wide the fairways are, how close the hazards are, how high the normal rough is, the slope of the fairways, out of bounds, and other factors.

The second shots are then also rated, along with hazards around the green, the size of the green, the slopes on the green, and the speed of the green, to name some of the factors that have to be evaluated.

The system then gives the hole, and course, a rating for a scratch golfer as well as the higher handicap golfer, and the difference is effectively the slope of the course. So a course with a high slope rating means that it is much harder for a higher handicapped golfer than the scratch golfer, while a course with a low slope rating means that the rating is not that different for a scratch golfer relative to a higher handicapped golfer.

Once the slope rating system is adopted by a country, handicaps are adjusted for a tee according to its slope rating.

Rating each tee and each hole at a course takes a three-man, experienced volunteer team at least half a day and they are usually expected to play the course as well – so the whole process takes a full day. It is therefore likely to take a few years before all the courses are rated.

Golf RSA has recently contracted former Western Province Director of Golf Eric Lefson to coordinate the course rating programme. Eric will assist the Provincial Unions by training and assisting the Union rating teams, and will also look to train rating teams that can assist some of the smaller unions.

Course rating teams are made up of volunteers who have the time to be trained in how to rate courses and are able to devote a few days a month to rating courses. The Unions refund the volunteers for their traveling and other expenses and the courses usually provide a complimentary round of golf. The SAGA and the Provincial Unions would welcome volunteers, especially from some of the smaller towns and unions, who would be interested in getting involved in course rating in their areas.

If you are interested in assisting please send us your details by emailing Eric at

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