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:
A Score Differential is calculated when either an 18-hole or 9-hole score is submitted and the method is determined, amongst other things, by how players’ hole scores are recorded.
A Handicap Index is calculated from the lowest Score Differentials in the scoring record. If a scoring record contains fewer than 20 Score Differentials, the table below is used to determine the number of Score Differentials to be included in the calculation and any adjustment that may apply. Round the result of the calculation to the nearest tenth.
Number of Score Differentials in scoring record |
Score Differential(s) to be used in calculation of Handicap Index |
Adjustment |
3 |
Lowest 1 |
–2.0 |
4 |
Lowest 1 |
–1.0 |
5 |
Lowest 1 |
0 |
6 |
Average of lowest 2 |
–1.0 |
7 or 8 |
Average of lowest 2 |
0 |
9 to 11 |
Average of lowest 3 |
0 |
12 to 14 |
Average of lowest 4 |
0 |
15 or 16 |
Average of lowest 5 |
0 |
17 or 18 |
Average of lowest 6 |
0 |
19 |
Average of lowest 7 |
0 |
20 |
Average of lowest 8 |
0 |
Allocation of an Initial Handicap Index
Based on any additional evidence available about a player’s demonstrated ability, a Handicap Committee may modify a player’s initial Handicap Index upward or downward (see Rule 7.1a).A Handicap Index is calculated from the lowest Score Differentials in the scoring record. If a scoring record contains at least 20 Score Differentials, the procedure for calculating a Handicap Index is:
When there are 20 Score Differentials in a player’s scoring record and the Handicap Index calculates as a negative figure, this represents a plus Handicap Index.
When a player’s initial Handicap Index calculates at the lower end of the handicap range for both men and women, the Handicap Committee must follow any procedures established by the Authorized Association before issuing a Handicap Index below a specified level (see Rule 5.2a).
The maximum Handicap Index a player can obtain is 54.0.
Note: Committees in charge of a competition have the discretion to set a maximum Handicap Index limit for entry.
A player’s Handicap Index should be updated no later than the day after a score was submitted, or as soon as possible thereafter.
In a situation when a new round is played before the player’s Handicap Index has been updated, including when multiple rounds are played on the same day, it is recommended that the player uses their existing Handicap Index. However, in certain circumstances, the Committee in charge of the competition (or the Handicap Committee) has the discretion to decide what Playing Handicap the player should use (see Rule 7.2).
A score continues to be part of the Handicap Index calculation if it remains with the player’s most recent 20 scores, regardless of the age of the score.
Where applicable, a 9-hole score waiting to be combined with another 9-hole score will be retained until it becomes older than the twentieth oldest 18-hole score in thescoring record, after which it is discarded.
A Handicap Index only lapses if a player is no longer a member of at least one golf club.
Note: A player’s scoring record should be retained wherever possible. This will assist a Handicap Committee if the player obtains a Handicap Index again in the future.
Course Ratings are based on normal playing conditions, but the difficulty of a golf course can vary substantially from day to day, due to:
The playing conditions calculation (PCC) determines whether playing conditions on the day differed from normal conditions to the extent that an adjustment is needed to compensate. It is a daily statistical procedure that compares the scores submitted by players on the day against expected scoring patterns.
The purpose of this feature within the handicap calculation is to recognize that an average score submitted in harder playing conditions may be better than a good score submitted in easier playing conditions. Unadjusted, such a score may be omitted from the Handicap Index calculation.
If the PCC determines that acceptable score submitted are in line with expected scoring patterns no adjustment is made.
The calculated adjustment is dependent upon:
The playing conditions calculation (PCC):
The Low Handicap Index represents the demonstrated ability of a player over the 365-day period preceding the day on which the most recent score in their scoring record was played and provides a reference point against which the current Handicap Index can be compared.
There are two trigger points within the cap procedure:
When a calculated Handicap Index increase is greater than 3.0 strokes, the value above 3.0 strokes is restricted to 50% of the increase.
There is no limit on the amount by which a player’s Handicap Index can decrease.
The soft cap and hard cap procedures start to take effect only after the Low Handicap Index has been established.
When an exceptional score is posted to a player’s scoring record, the Handicap Index will be reduced in accordance with the following adjustment table:
Number of strokes the Score Differential is lower than a player’s Handicap Index in effect when the round was played |
Exceptional Score reduction |
7.0 – 9.9 |
–-1.0 |
10.0 or more |
–-2.0 |
Where there are fewer than 20 Score Differentials in a player’s scoring record at the time an exceptional score is submitted, the reduction is applied by adjusting all of the Score Differentialsrecorded in the player’s scoring record, which includes the exceptional score.
The difference between a player’s adjusted gross score and the Course Rating, reflecting the Slope Rating and the playing conditions calculation.
It is the numerical value attributed to a score achieved on a golf course on a specific day that is posted into the player’s scoring record. A Score Differential must be an 18-hole value or its calculated equivalent.
(See Rule 5.1.)
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The difference between a player’s adjusted gross score and the Course Rating, reflecting the Slope Rating and the playing conditions calculation.
It is the numerical value attributed to a score achieved on a golf course on a specific day that is posted into the player’s scoring record. A Score Differential must be an 18-hole value or its calculated equivalent.
(See Rule 5.1.)
A history of a player’s acceptable scores along with:
(See Appendix B.)
A history of a player’s acceptable scores along with:
(See Appendix B.)
The difference between a player’s adjusted gross score and the Course Rating, reflecting the Slope Rating and the playing conditions calculation.
It is the numerical value attributed to a score achieved on a golf course on a specific day that is posted into the player’s scoring record. A Score Differential must be an 18-hole value or its calculated equivalent.
(See Rule 5.1.)
The difference between a player’s adjusted gross score and the Course Rating, reflecting the Slope Rating and the playing conditions calculation.
It is the numerical value attributed to a score achieved on a golf course on a specific day that is posted into the player’s scoring record. A Score Differential must be an 18-hole value or its calculated equivalent.
(See Rule 5.1.)
The difference between a player’s adjusted gross score and the Course Rating, reflecting the Slope Rating and the playing conditions calculation.
It is the numerical value attributed to a score achieved on a golf course on a specific day that is posted into the player’s scoring record. A Score Differential must be an 18-hole value or its calculated equivalent.
(See Rule 5.1.)
A history of a player’s acceptable scores along with:
(See Appendix B.)
The difference between a player’s adjusted gross score and the Course Rating, reflecting the Slope Rating and the playing conditions calculation.
It is the numerical value attributed to a score achieved on a golf course on a specific day that is posted into the player’s scoring record. A Score Differential must be an 18-hole value or its calculated equivalent.
(See Rule 5.1.)
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The entity established by a golf club or an Authorized Association which is responsible for ensuring compliance with the obligations of the golf club or Authorized Association under the Rules of Handicapping (see Rule 1.3 and Appendix A).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The difference between a player’s adjusted gross score and the Course Rating, reflecting the Slope Rating and the playing conditions calculation.
It is the numerical value attributed to a score achieved on a golf course on a specific day that is posted into the player’s scoring record. A Score Differential must be an 18-hole value or its calculated equivalent.
(See Rule 5.1.)
A history of a player’s acceptable scores along with:
(See Appendix B.)
A history of a player’s acceptable scores along with:
(See Appendix B.)
The difference between a player’s adjusted gross score and the Course Rating, reflecting the Slope Rating and the playing conditions calculation.
It is the numerical value attributed to a score achieved on a golf course on a specific day that is posted into the player’s scoring record. A Score Differential must be an 18-hole value or its calculated equivalent.
(See Rule 5.1.)
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The difference between a player’s adjusted gross score and the Course Rating, reflecting the Slope Rating and the playing conditions calculation.
It is the numerical value attributed to a score achieved on a golf course on a specific day that is posted into the player’s scoring record. A Score Differential must be an 18-hole value or its calculated equivalent.
(See Rule 5.1.)
A Score Differential which is at least 7.0 strokes better than the player’s Handicap Index at the time the round was played (see Rule 5.9).
The difference between a player’s adjusted gross score and the Course Rating, reflecting the Slope Rating and the playing conditions calculation.
It is the numerical value attributed to a score achieved on a golf course on a specific day that is posted into the player’s scoring record. A Score Differential must be an 18-hole value or its calculated equivalent.
(See Rule 5.1.)
The lowest Handicap Index achieved by a player during the 365-day period (one year) preceding the day on which the most recent score on their scoring record was played (see Rule 5.7).
The difference between a player’s adjusted gross score and the Course Rating, reflecting the Slope Rating and the playing conditions calculation.
It is the numerical value attributed to a score achieved on a golf course on a specific day that is posted into the player’s scoring record. A Score Differential must be an 18-hole value or its calculated equivalent.
(See Rule 5.1.)
A history of a player’s acceptable scores along with:
(See Appendix B.)
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The entity established by a golf club or an Authorized Association which is responsible for ensuring compliance with the obligations of the golf club or Authorized Association under the Rules of Handicapping (see Rule 1.3 and Appendix A).
An entity that is authorized, in accordance with the structure set out by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and R&A Rules Limited (The R&A).
To implement and administer the Rules of Handicapping within its jurisdiction and to carry out the responsibilities as delegated to it by the authority through which it is authorized.
Such an entity must be a Multi-National, National or Regional Association, Federation or Union.
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The entity established by a golf club or an Authorized Association which is responsible for ensuring compliance with the obligations of the golf club or Authorized Association under the Rules of Handicapping (see Rule 1.3 and Appendix A).
The Course Handicap adjusted for any handicap allowances or Terms of the Competition. It represents the actual number of strokes the player gives or receives for the round being played (see Rule 6.2).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
A history of a player’s acceptable scores along with:
(See Appendix B.)
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
An individual who joins a golf club in a manner determined by club policy, which allows the player to obtain a Handicap Index.
An organization that is permitted, through affiliation to its Authorized Association, to administer and manage the Handicap Index of those players who have designated it as their home club, in accordance with the requirements of the Rules of Handicapping.
To qualify for affiliation, a golf club may be required to satisfy certain requirements as determined by its Authorized Association.
A history of a player’s acceptable scores along with:
(See Appendix B.)
The entity established by a golf club or an Authorized Association which is responsible for ensuring compliance with the obligations of the golf club or Authorized Association under the Rules of Handicapping (see Rule 1.3 and Appendix A).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
An indication of the difficulty of a golf course for the scratch player under normal course and weather conditions (see Appendix G).
An area of land where golf is played, made up of the following five areas as defined in the Rules of Golf:
Each hole may have multiple teeing areas and, for handicap purposes, a golf course is made up of a designated set of tees on each hole. As such, each set of tees (or golf course) should have a separate Course Rating and Slope Rating, including one for each gender where appropriate.
The statistical calculation that determines if conditions on a day of play differed from normal playing conditions to the extent that they significantly impacted players’ performance. Examples of conditions that could impact players’ performance include:
(See Rule 5.6.)
The statistical calculation that determines if conditions on a day of play differed from normal playing conditions to the extent that they significantly impacted players’ performance. Examples of conditions that could impact players’ performance include:
(See Rule 5.6.)
The statistical calculation that determines if conditions on a day of play differed from normal playing conditions to the extent that they significantly impacted players’ performance. Examples of conditions that could impact players’ performance include:
(See Rule 5.6.)
An area of land where golf is played, made up of the following five areas as defined in the Rules of Golf:
Each hole may have multiple teeing areas and, for handicap purposes, a golf course is made up of a designated set of tees on each hole. As such, each set of tees (or golf course) should have a separate Course Rating and Slope Rating, including one for each gender where appropriate.
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The difference between a player’s adjusted gross score and the Course Rating, reflecting the Slope Rating and the playing conditions calculation.
It is the numerical value attributed to a score achieved on a golf course on a specific day that is posted into the player’s scoring record. A Score Differential must be an 18-hole value or its calculated equivalent.
(See Rule 5.1.)
The lowest Handicap Index achieved by a player during the 365-day period (one year) preceding the day on which the most recent score on their scoring record was played (see Rule 5.7).
A history of a player’s acceptable scores along with:
(See Appendix B.)
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The lowest Handicap Index achieved by a player during the 365-day period (one year) preceding the day on which the most recent score on their scoring record was played (see Rule 5.7).
A history of a player’s acceptable scores along with:
(See Appendix B.)
The lowest Handicap Index achieved by a player during the 365-day period (one year) preceding the day on which the most recent score on their scoring record was played (see Rule 5.7).
A history of a player’s acceptable scores along with:
(See Appendix B.)
The lowest Handicap Index achieved by a player during the 365-day period (one year) preceding the day on which the most recent score on their scoring record was played (see Rule 5.7).
The lowest Handicap Index achieved by a player during the 365-day period (one year) preceding the day on which the most recent score on their scoring record was played (see Rule 5.7).
The entity established by a golf club or an Authorized Association which is responsible for ensuring compliance with the obligations of the golf club or Authorized Association under the Rules of Handicapping (see Rule 1.3 and Appendix A).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The lowest Handicap Index achieved by a player during the 365-day period (one year) preceding the day on which the most recent score on their scoring record was played (see Rule 5.7).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The entity established by a golf club or an Authorized Association which is responsible for ensuring compliance with the obligations of the golf club or Authorized Association under the Rules of Handicapping (see Rule 1.3 and Appendix A).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The lowest Handicap Index achieved by a player during the 365-day period (one year) preceding the day on which the most recent score on their scoring record was played (see Rule 5.7).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The lowest Handicap Index achieved by a player during the 365-day period (one year) preceding the day on which the most recent score on their scoring record was played (see Rule 5.7).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The lowest Handicap Index achieved by a player during the 365-day period (one year) preceding the day on which the most recent score on their scoring record was played (see Rule 5.7).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The lowest Handicap Index achieved by a player during the 365-day period (one year) preceding the day on which the most recent score on their scoring record was played (see Rule 5.7).
A Score Differential which is at least 7.0 strokes better than the player’s Handicap Index at the time the round was played (see Rule 5.9).
A history of a player’s acceptable scores along with:
(See Appendix B.)
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
The difference between a player’s adjusted gross score and the Course Rating, reflecting the Slope Rating and the playing conditions calculation.
It is the numerical value attributed to a score achieved on a golf course on a specific day that is posted into the player’s scoring record. A Score Differential must be an 18-hole value or its calculated equivalent.
(See Rule 5.1.)
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
A Score Differential which is at least 7.0 strokes better than the player’s Handicap Index at the time the round was played (see Rule 5.9).
A Score Differential which is at least 7.0 strokes better than the player’s Handicap Index at the time the round was played (see Rule 5.9).
A Score Differential which is at least 7.0 strokes better than the player’s Handicap Index at the time the round was played (see Rule 5.9).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).
A Score Differential which is at least 7.0 strokes better than the player’s Handicap Index at the time the round was played (see Rule 5.9).
A Score Differential which is at least 7.0 strokes better than the player’s Handicap Index at the time the round was played (see Rule 5.9).
The difference between a player’s adjusted gross score and the Course Rating, reflecting the Slope Rating and the playing conditions calculation.
It is the numerical value attributed to a score achieved on a golf course on a specific day that is posted into the player’s scoring record. A Score Differential must be an 18-hole value or its calculated equivalent.
(See Rule 5.1.)
A history of a player’s acceptable scores along with:
(See Appendix B.)
A Score Differential which is at least 7.0 strokes better than the player’s Handicap Index at the time the round was played (see Rule 5.9).
The difference between a player’s adjusted gross score and the Course Rating, reflecting the Slope Rating and the playing conditions calculation.
It is the numerical value attributed to a score achieved on a golf course on a specific day that is posted into the player’s scoring record. A Score Differential must be an 18-hole value or its calculated equivalent.
(See Rule 5.1.)
A history of a player’s acceptable scores along with:
(See Appendix B.)
A Score Differential which is at least 7.0 strokes better than the player’s Handicap Index at the time the round was played (see Rule 5.9).
The difference between a player’s adjusted gross score and the Course Rating, reflecting the Slope Rating and the playing conditions calculation.
It is the numerical value attributed to a score achieved on a golf course on a specific day that is posted into the player’s scoring record. A Score Differential must be an 18-hole value or its calculated equivalent.
(See Rule 5.1.)
A history of a player’s acceptable scores along with:
(See Appendix B.)
A Score Differential which is at least 7.0 strokes better than the player’s Handicap Index at the time the round was played (see Rule 5.9).
A procedure carried out by the Handicap Committee to determine if the Handicap Index of any member who has designated that golf club as their home club needs to be adjusted (see Rule 7.1a and Appendix D).
The entity established by a golf club or an Authorized Association which is responsible for ensuring compliance with the obligations of the golf club or Authorized Association under the Rules of Handicapping (see Rule 1.3 and Appendix A).
The entity established by a golf club or an Authorized Association which is responsible for ensuring compliance with the obligations of the golf club or Authorized Association under the Rules of Handicapping (see Rule 1.3 and Appendix A).
A Score Differential which is at least 7.0 strokes better than the player’s Handicap Index at the time the round was played (see Rule 5.9).
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113) (see Rule 5.2).