Handicap Index Calculation
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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.
Low Handicap Index
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.

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