The R&A - Working for Golf
Handicap Index Calculation
Interpretations
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5.2
5.2a
5.2a/1
5.2a/2
5.4
5.4
5.4/1
5.4/2
5.6
5.6
5.6/1
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5.6/5
5.6/6
5.6/7
5.7
5.7
5.7/1
5.7/2

Principle of the Rule:

A player’s Handicap Index should represent their demonstrated ability and, where appropriate, be responsive to scores that are inconsistent with their demonstrated ability.

Rule 5 covers the process of calculating a Handicap Index and incorporates the safeguards needed to help ensure that a player’s Handicap Index remains reflective of their ability and that equity is retained for all golfers. It includes mechanisms that:

  • Take into consideration the conditions in which a round was played.
  • Remember previously demonstrated ability within a defined period of time.
  • Cap the upward movement of a player’s Handicap Index within a defined period of time.
  • Apply additional adjustments to a player’s Handicap Index when an exceptional score is submitted.
5.2
Calculation of a Handicap Index
5.2a
For Fewer than 20 Scores
5.2a/1
Modification of a Player’s Initial Handicap Index Due to Evidence of Previous Abilit

A player submits three scores to obtain an initial Handicap Index, which result in calculated Score Differentials of 15.3, 15.2 and 16.6.

This would result in an initial Handicap Index of:

Lowest Score Differential

-

Adjustment

=

Initial

Handicap Index

15.2

2

13.2

The Handicap Committee is aware that the player, who is rejoining a golf club after many years out of the game, had played well as a junior golfer and maintained a Handicap Index of around 8.0.

Based on the evidence available, the Handicap Committee may adjust the player’s calculated initial Handicap Index to better reflect their previously demonstrated ability. 

5.2a/2
Modification of a Player’s Initial Handicap Index When Subsequent Scores Are Significantly Different Than Expected

A player submits three scores to obtain an initial Handicap Index, which result in calculated Score Differentials of 40.7, 42.4 and 36.1.

This would result in an initial Handicap Index of:

Lowest Score Differential

-

Adjustment

=

Initial

Handicap Index

36.1

2

34.1

The player then goes on to submit three more scores, which result in calculated Score Differentials of 45.9, 43.6 and 45.0.

After these six scores, the player’s Handicap Index would be:

Average of Lowest Two Score Differentials

-

Adjustment

=

Initial

Handicap Index

38.4

1

37.4

 

In reviewing the player’s calculated Handicap Index against their scores, the Handicap Committee may conclude in this case that the -1 adjustment should be removed to ensure the calculated Handicap Index better reflects the player’s ability.

5.4
Frequency of Revision of a Handicap Index Update
5.4/1
Example Situation When Committee in Charge of a Competition May Adjust a Player’s Playing Handicap

In a situation where a player has performed exceptionally well in an authorized format of play during a morning round and is playing a competition round later the same day, as the player’s Handicap Index will not be updated until the next day, the Committee in charge of the competition may decide to adjust the player’s Playing Handicap.

The Committee should consider all of the information available before deciding whether to adjust the player’s Playing Handicap, including what impact the score may have had on the player’s Handicap Index and whether the player would obtain any unfair advantage because their Handicap Index has not been updated.

5.4/2
Golf Club Responsibility to Post Scores As Soon As Possible

Where it is the responsibility of a golf club to post scores at the end of each day, this must be done as soon as possible and preferably before midnight to support the Rules of Handicapping. This is important because it:

  • Ensures that a player’s Handicap Index is updated as soon as possible after the round was played (see Rule 5.4).
  • Allows for the playing conditions calculation to be carried out (see Rule 5.6).
  • Ensures that, where appropriate, scores are available for verification by peers.
  • Enables the Handicap Committee to carry out its other responsibilities (see Rule 7.1b).

Failure to carry out this responsibility may compromise the integrity of the Rules of Handicapping.

5.6
Playing Conditions Calculation
5.6/1
Procedure for Performing Playing Conditions Calculation

The playing conditions calculation (PCC) will be an automatic calculation and can be summarized as follows:

  1. Calculate the expected score for each eligible player.
  2. Calculate the expected standard deviation of Score Differentials at the golf course, incorporating all applicable Slope Ratings.
  3. Establish how many players scored better or worse than expected on the day.
  4. The proportion of players submitting a score equal to, better than or worse than their expected scoring range determines whether a PCC adjustment is required.
  5. If an adjustment is required, determine how much harder or easier the golf course played that day.
  6. Based on these calculations, determine any final PCC adjustment required for play on that day.
  7. A PCC adjustment is applied as a whole number.

 

Notes:

  • For the application of a PCC adjustment in the calculation of a Score Differential, see Rule 5.1a (for an 18-hole score) and Rule 5.1b (for a 9-hole score).
  • 9-hole acceptable scores are doubled for inclusion in the PCC along with a doubled 9-hole Course Rating and the 9-hole Slope Rating.
The PCC is applied to all acceptable scores that are submitted on a day of play and retrospectively
5.6/2
Circumstances That May Warrant More Than One Playing Conditions Calculation on a Single Day

Rule 5.6 recommends that only one playing conditions calculation (PCC) is performed for the day.

However, there may be circumstances that warrant a separate PCC to be performed for part of the day or for a certain competition. For example, when:

  • There is extreme variation in weather on the day.
  • The make-up of the field in a competition being played on the day is significantly different from the make-up of the players participating in general play rounds on the same day.
5.6/3
How to Perform a Separate Playing Conditions Calculation for a Certain Competition and What Adjustment to Apply to General Play Rounds Played on the Same Day

In circumstances when a separate playing conditions calculation (PCC) is performed for a certain competition:

  • Only scores from those players who have participated in the competition are considered in the separate PCC.
  • Any calculated adjustment from the separate PCC will be applied only to the calculation of the Score Differentials of players who have participated in the competition.
For all other players who have played at the same golf course on the day, the PCC for the day is applied, which uses all eligible scores for the day (including the scores of the players who have participated in the competition).
5.6/4
Player Plays Multiple Rounds on the Same Course on the Same Day and a Separate Playing Conditions Calculation is Performed

When playing two or more rounds on the same golf course on the same day and a separate PCC is performed for one or more of the rounds, a different PCC adjustment may be applied to each of a player’s calculated Score Differentials.

5.6/5
Round Played Away and Score Returned to Home Club

When a player returns a score back to their home club after playing a round at an away golf course, the playing conditions calculation (PCC) for that golf course on the day the round was played should be retrieved and used to calculate the player’s Score Differential before their Handicap Index is revised.

5.6/6
Performing the Playing Conditions Calculation at a Golf Club With 27 Holes

A golf club has three 9-hole golf courses known as the South, East and West courses. The design and layout of the three courses allows golfers to play (a) only 9 holes on any golf course, or (b) 18 holes in any combination of 9 holes (South/South, South/East, South/West, East/East, East/West and West/West).

The playing conditions calculation (PCC) is performed for any 18-hole golf course that has been issued a Course Rating and Slope Rating

Provided all of the criteria set out in Rule 5.6 are satisfied, a PCC is performed every day, for each 18-hole combination. 

5.6/7
Application of Playing Conditions Calculation When Playing only 9 Holes at a Golf Club with 27 Holes

A golf club has three 9-hole golf courses known as the South, East and West courses. The design and layout of the three courses allows golfers to play (a) only 9 holes on any golf course, or (b) 18 holes in any combination of 9 holes (South/South, South/East, South/West, East/East, East/West and West/West).

For a player who plays only 9 holes on the South golf course:

  • Their score will be entered into the playing conditions calculation (PCC) for each of the South/South, South/East and South/West 18-hole combinations.
  • Their score will be doubled, using the same 9-hole Course Rating and Slope Rating as the 9 holes played.
  • Provided all of the criteria set out in Rule 5.6 are satisfied, a PCC will be performed for each 18-hole combination.
  • 50% of the PCC adjustment for the South/South golf course is applied to the calculation of the player’s Score Differential.
  • If no PCC is performed for the South/South golf course, no PCC adjustment will be applied to the calculation of the player’s Score Differential. This is even if a PCC adjustment is performed for other 18-hole combinations involving the South golf course.

 

 

5.7
Low Handicap Index
5.7/1
Circumstances When a Player’s Low Handicap Index Becomes More Than 365 Days Old

Rule 5.7 states that a player’s Low Handicap Index may become more than 365 days old in the period between two rounds being played. As a result, a Low Handicap Index that is more than 365 days old may still be considered in the calculation of a player’s Handicap Index.

For example:

After submitting a score on 1 January 2021, a player’s Handicap Index calculates at 12.3. Their Low Handicap Index at the time is 10.6, established on 1 March 2020.

When the player submits their next score on 1 April 2021, the Low Handicap Index of 10.6 will still be considered in the calculation of their updated Handicap Index even though it is more than 365 days old. This is because the 365-day timeframe precedes the date on which the most recent score on the player’s scoring record was played, which in this case is the period between 1 January 2021 and 1 January 2020. Once their updated Handicap Index is calculated, the new Low Handicap Index will be found within the 365-day period between 1 April 2021 and 1 April 2020.

5.7/2
Circumstance When the Low Handicap Index is the Current Handicap Index

After submitting a score on 1 April 2021, a player takes a break from golf and does not submit another score until 1 July 2022. In calculating the player’s updated Handicap Index, the player’s Low Handicap Index in the 365 days preceding 1 April 2021 is used as a reference point.

The player then plays another round on 1 August 2022, and the 365-day period preceding 1 July 2022 is used to locate the player’s Low Handicap Index, but no other scores have been submitted during that timeframe. Therefore, in this situation, the player’s current Handicap Index becomes their Low Handicap Index