This month we explain the role of Soft and Hard Caps in the World Handicap System and how they help to reduce large and rapid increases in players’ Handicap Indexes.
The World Handicap System has mechanisms in place to reduce large and sudden increases in Handicap Indexes. These are the Soft Cap, identified by the symbol ‘S’, and the Hard Cap, identified by the symbol ‘H’ on your handicap record sheet.
Essentially, the Caps are suppression mechanisms that will stop individual Handicap Indexes going up too severely. We will explain how they work, with examples, below.
Low Handicap Index (Low HI)
Your Low Handicap Index is the lowest Handicap Index you have held within the last rolling 12-month period and is remembered within the handicap formula, making it the anchor point for both your Soft and Hard Caps. It provides a reference point against which your current Handicap Index can be compared and is displayed on your HNA App or scoring record.
The Soft Cap (S)
The Soft Cap is a mechanism to help reduce any sudden increase in a player’s Handicap Index over the course of a year.
The Soft Cap means that when a Handicap Index is recalculated and is more than three strokes above the player’s Low Handicap Index, the HI increase is suppressed so that only half of any increase above three strokes is applied.
A player has a Low Handicap Index of 12. However, when calculating his current best 8 out of 20 scores, he now gets a calculated Handicap Index of 17.0, which is 5 strokes higher than his Low Handicap Index.
In this case, the Soft Cap limits his increase over 3 strokes to 50%.
So his Low Handicap Index is 12, plus 3 strokes = 15, and then 50% of any increase over 3 strokes (in this case it is 2, so 50% of that is 1), meaning his Handicap Index will increase by (3 + 1) to 16 and not 17.
The Hard Cap (H)
The Hard Cap limits any increase in a players Handicap Index to a maximum of 5 strokes over a 12-month period. The Hard Cap will only be applied after the Soft Cap has limited a player’s HI increase to 5 shots.
A player has a Low Handicap Index of 12. Their best 8 out of 20 scores now gives a calculated Handicap Index of 20.0.
The Soft Cap will be calculated as to 12 + 3 = 15 plus 50% of (20 – 15) = 2.5, and so the Soft Cap-limited Handicap Index would be 17.5. This is more than five strokes above the player’s Low Handicap Index, so the Hard Cap kicks in, limiting the HI to 17 (which is the maximum of 5 shots above the player’s Low Handicap Index).
Note: the Soft Cap and Hard Cap procedures only start to take effect once a player has at least 20 acceptable scores in their scoring record.
Quote of the Month
“Confidence is the most important single factor in this game, and no matter how great your natural talent, there is only one way to obtain and sustain it: work.” – Jack Nicklaus.