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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ's for golfers

1. What will happen to my handicap on 3 September 2018?

The current Handicap will be re-calculated and will become your Handicap Index®. This will probably be lower than your current Handicap because the Course Rating™ is most likely higher than what it was before the USGA Course Rating System™ was done and the relative difficulty, i.e. Slope Rating™, of the course you have played, is taken into account when the Handicap Index® is calculated. However, the calculation of the Course Handicap™ will take the same factors into account and the Course Handicap™ should be very close to your current Handicap.

2. What is my handicap?

Players will have a Handicap Index that is calculated from 96% of the best 10 of the last 20 rounds (this changed again on 1 September 2019). Each time you play you must get your Course Handicap from the Terminal, App or the Chart which will be at the Golf Course you are playing. This is a calculation using your Handicap Index®, the Course Rating™ and the Slope Rating™ of the Course (White, Blue or Red Tee) you choose to play on that day. Once you’ve decided which Tee (White, Blue or Red) you want to play off, key this into the Terminal or Mobile App and you will get your Course Handicap™. If neither is available, use the Course Handicap™ Conversion Chart at the Club.

3. What is the difference between my Handicap Index® and the Course Handicap™?

The Handicap Index® is an indication of your potential as a golfer. The Course Handicap™ is the handicap you will use when playing from a selected Tee (colour course) at a particular club – calculated taking the difficulty of the course into consideration. Once you have selected which course (Tee) you are going to play, the Course Handicap™ is obtained from the Mobile App, the HNA system (website or terminal) or, where neither is available, from Course Handicap™ Conversion Tables at the club.

4. Can Men and Women play off the same Tee and compete?

Definitely – this is one of the reasons why the system is being introduced. There are no Men’s, Senior’s or Womens’ Tees anymore. We will be referring to the various courses by the colour of the Tee. All the Tees have been rated for Men, while only certain Tees have been rated for Women. If the Women at the club feel that they want more options they can request this from GolfRSA.

5. Why is my Course Handicap™ a figure with a decimal – do I play with this?

When the Course Handicap™ is calculated it takes into account the Course Rating™ that has been calculated to one decimal point and your Handicap Index is to a decimal point. Before playing you must round the decimal in your Course Handicap™ up or down to a whole number, i.e. 18.2 becomes 18, 18.5 becomes 19 and 18.7 also becomes 19.

6. How will Slope Rating™ make things fairer?

Generally speaking, a higher handicapper finds it more difficult to adjust to a difficult course than a lower handicapper. The slope adjustment balances this out.
For example, if the White Tees are harder than the Blue Tees, a high-handicapper may play the White Tees off a handicap of 28 and the Blue Tees off 24. (He gets four more shots for the harder course.) The low handicap player finds it easier to adjust, so they may play the White Tees off 4 and the Blue Tees off 3. (He only gets one shot more for the harder course.)

7. What do I need to do when arriving at a course other than my Home Course?

Decide which Tee you want to play from, or ascertain which is specified for the day’s competition. Enter this choice on the Mobile App, the HNA system or the Course Handicap™ Conversion Tables at the club. Any of these will give you your Course Handicap™.

8. Currently my handicap is reduced by the difference in the course rating between the tee I am playing from (the forward tee) and the competition tee the rest of the field is playing from. Can I play in a Stroke Play competition from a different Tee as the one identified for the day?

Yes, the calculation of your Course Handicap™ takes into account the fact that the Course Rating™ and Slope Rating™ of the Tee you are playing from is lower/higher than the one the rest of the field is playing from, therefore you can play in the same Stroke Play competition. (Unless the Conditions of Competition prohibit this.)

9. What are the features of Slope™?

Every set of Tees will have a Course Rating™ to one decimal point. Every set of Tees on every golf course will also have a Slope Rating™ determined in accordance with the new Slope Rating System™. The Course- and Slope Ratings™ are different for men and women. The maximum Slope Rating™ is 155 and the minimum is 55 – the Neutral Rating is 113.

10. If I’m playing off the same Course Handicap™ at my Club now as the Handicap I played off before, what is the purpose of Slope™?

Slope™ makes no difference to the player who plays from the same tees at the same course, week after week – and this is the typical experience of most club golfers. However, Slope™ provides a much fairer handicap for golfers who play on courses (or sets of tees) with varying degrees of difficulty.
The basic premise that underpins the Slope™ regulation is that the gross scores returned by a group of players of different abilities will become more and more spread out as the difficulty of a course increases.

This is because players of lesser ability find it much harder than good players to adjust to the challenge of a difficult course. This also means that the gross scores of the same group of players will become closer together as a course becomes easier. So the differences between the Course Handicaps™ of players of differing levels of ability need to expand as the course becomes harder. And they need to contract as the course becomes easier.

Slope™ is all about achieving an appropriate difference between the Course Handicaps™ of players of different levels of ability. Note that a common misunderstanding is that people think that Slope™ decreases handicaps on easy courses and that it increases them on hard courses. This isn’t quite what Slope™ is doing.

To compensate for the pattern of gross score distribution, what Slope™ does is spread out handicaps on a more difficult course (i.e. Plus handicaps move further away from Scratch, and normal handicaps also move further from Scratch), and it brings them all closer together on an easy course (i.e. Plus handicaps get closer to Scratch and normal handicaps also get closer to Scratch).

Remember that on a high Slope Rated™ course, the difference needs to increase between the Course Handicaps™ of players of different levels of ability. (And the higher the Slope Rating™, the greater the difference needs to be.) For example, as Slope Ratings™ increase, the difference between the Course Handicap™ of a player with a Handicap Index® of 0.0, and the Course Handicap™ of a player with a Handicap Index® of 23.6, will continue to increase.

For example the calculation of a player of Handicap Index® 0 on a course with a Course Rating™ of 74.2 and a Slope Rating™ of 140 – Par 72 will be as follows:

Scratch Player (HI = 0)
HI * Slope™/113 + (CR – Par)
0 * 140/113 + (74.2 – 72)
= 0 + 2.2 = Course Handicap™ for this player is 2 (2.2 rounded down)
Higher Handicap (HI = 23.3)
HI * Slope™/113 + (CR – Par)
23.3* 140/113 + (74.2 – 72)
28.8 + 2.2 = 31


If the course had a Course Rating™ of 68 and a par of 72 then using the same calculation one would get to:

HI * Slope™/113 + (CR – Par)
0 + (68 – 72)
= – 4
HI * Slope™/113 + (CR – Par)
28.8 + (-4)
24.8 = Course Handicap™ 25

But, the player on a Handicap Index® of 0.0 is not as good as the player with Handicap Index of +6.0.

 So as the Slope Rating™ of the course increases, the player on a Handicap Index® of 0.0 needs more strokes on the player with a Handicap Index® of +6.0.  And if the 0.0 player’s Course Handicap™ is 0, it means the only way for them to get more shots on the +6.0 player is for the player on +6.0 to have their Course Handicap™ go even lower. The key point for the Plus marker is not that a high Slope Rated™ course is easier for them, it is that unless their handicap goes lower, they will gain an advantage on every other player in the field.

11. Why is it necessary to change the layout of the scorecard?

There are no longer Men’s, Senior’s or Women’s’ Tees. We will be referring to the various courses by the colour of the Tee. All scorecards must indicate these. Scorecards must also indicate the Stroke Index, the Par and the Course Rating and Slope Ratings™.

FAQ's for clubs

1. In competitions, should all players play the same course?

It depends on the nature of the competition. We encourage clubs to allow players to play off whichever tee they would get the most enjoyment from, since the Course Handicap calculation ensures equity amongst golfer of different capabilities. The Tournament Organising Committee (TOC) can stipulate the Colour Course to be used in their published Conditions of Competition. Ideally only for certain events, such as Club Champs, Sanlam Cancer Challenge or a major Trophy should a specific course (set of tees) be stipulated.

2. The new rules, particularly those affecting stroke and distance, will have an impact on Course Ratings™. What will be the effect on the ratings being introduced in September? Will we have to modify cards again?

The impact of, for example, the Red penalty area rule, to be implemented in 2019, will have an impact on certain courses only. Courses where this rule may have an impact on the Course- and Slope Ratings™ will be prioritised for re-rating. There will be engagement with the clubs to determine how they plan to do the marking of their courses using the new rules and an assessment will be made whether the course will be prioritised for re-rating. Should the CR and SR change, clubs should include the new ratings on their scorecards when they reprint. While they still have their old scorecards the equivalent of a “Pin Sheet” should be attached to the scorecard. The USGA CRS application will be updated and the CH of the golfers will be calculated using the new ratings when they play on the re-rated course.

3. What handicap (or Handicap Index®) do we give a non-registered golfer?

This is a decision for the organising committee and they could select the Course Handicap™ that they are comfortable with. The only guideline is that the organising committee should consider the Course and Slope Ratings™ of the Courses nominated to be played in the competition in their deliberations to determine the Course Handicap™ that they will allocate to non-registered golfers.

4. How do you determine Divisions? Are there going to be guidelines issued and if so when?

The Divisions are determined by the Tournament Organising Committee as a Condition of Competition and it is recommended that the Handicap Index be used to determine the divisions. GolfRSA (SAGA/WGSA) will not be publishing guidelines.

5. Will this change the course record?

No, that is the lowest gross score and the Implementation of the USGA Course Rating System™ would have no impact on Course Records.

6. How do you handle par 3 holes with distinct angle of approach?

This is taken into account in the rating, especially with carries from different angles. However, a hole is rated from where it is on average played from.

7. The 96% will fall away in the future, why keep it?

Currently we are only implementing the USGA Course rating system, which will ensure equity by taking the Course Rating™ and Slope Rating™ of a course into account when issuing a Course Handicap™ to the player for the day, based on the colour course they selected at a Club. The decision to keep all the differential calculations the same was taken by the SAGA in order to minimise the variables during this implementation. However, in 2020 we will be joining the world with a single method of calculation and then the differential calculation method will be the same for all countries in the world.

8. NOMADS have an adjusted handicap calculation. How are they going to adjust to this?

It is a decision for the Nomads to make since they are not using an official Handicapping methodology. The only guideline we can give is that the Handicap Index® is now the official expression of the potential of a golfer and handicaps as we know it today will fall away on September 3, 2018.

10. This rating of courses, is it specific for a season of the year?

No. When rating is done it is based on mid-season (April or October) so it is averaged out.

11. How will a person adjust from course to course?

Slope™ and the new Course Rating™ will help them get an equitable course handicap and will make things a lot fairer.

12. Is the 24-hour time limit for entering your score still applicable?

Yes. A decision was made that no other changes will be implemented now.

13. From which Course Handicap™ will a touring pro play off?

That depends on the Course & Slope Ratings™, but his Handicap Index® will be +6.

16. Some clubs have holes that are par 5 for ladies and par 4 for men. In these situations what is the Par to be used when men play the shorter course i.e. Red Course and women play the longer course i.e. White Course

There is only one men’s par for a course and one women’s par for the course hence men will always play the hole as a Par 4 regardless of the Colour Course he elects to play and the women will always play the hole as a Par 5 regardless of the Colour Course she elects to play. It is advisable that clubs should consider having the same par/hole for men and women.

18. We would like to know which colour course the Course Handicap™ the golfer entered on the scorecard relates to. What advice can you give us?

It is suggested that the golfer indicates next to the Course Handicap™ the colour of the course he/she selected. For example: Y. CH 24 or W.CH 24 or B.CH 24. Clubs should consider if they would like to provide space on the scorecard for this entry when scorecards are designed. The information in the heading of the Handicap space on the scorecard can be: Col. C, CH ,HI. To be completed by the golfer: R (for red course), 24 (Course Handicap™), 15.2 (Handicap Index®).

19. What is the suggested method to adjust the Course Handicap™ or Handicap Index® when Par-3 courses are played? Currently we use 1/3 or ½ of the player’s handicap.

Par-3 courses have not been rated and the method for rating is not the same as the rating for courses of 2 750 metres and longer, on which the USGA Course Rating System™ is based. There is a method to do the rating of Par-3 courses and GolfRSA will start this project upon completion of the implementation of the USGA Course Rating System™ on September 03, 2018. In the interim, it is suggested that the adjustment to the Handicap Index® be made by a certain percentage as it is done now. The current method has no scientific base either.