Rules & Handicapping | Golf Australia

Handicapping Statistics & FAQs

Please see below for a list of frequently asked questions and information on statistics.

How often does a golfer really play to their handicap?

DSR takes into account the average Stableford score for the field and also the average Daily Handicap. Have you wondered how today’s scoring at your club stacked up against the base figures it was being compared with? Download more information here.

Did you know that the average GA Handicap for men is 16.93 and the average GA Handicap for women is 26.73? Download more information on the distribution of handicaps in Australia.

• April 2014 (with Slope in Effect) • April 2013 (before Slope was introduced)

My GA Handicap is +4.0. The Slope Rating of the tees I normally play off at my club is 135 (Par is 72 and the Scratch Rating is 72) so my Daily Handicap for these tees is +5. Surely it’s unfair that I lose even more strokes on a high Slope Rated course?

  • 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 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 handicaps of players of different levels of ability. Note that a common misunderstanding is 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 it spreads out handicaps on a hard course (ie 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 (ie Plus handicaps get closer to Scratch and normal handicaps also get closer to Scratch). The way Slope works in practice is that a player with a GA Handicap of 0.0 will always play off a Daily Handicap of 0, irrespective of the Slope Rating of the tees being played. (0.0 is the neutral GA Handicap value – everything revolves around 0.0.) Note that this is the way Slope works all the way around the world.

  • So on a 140 Slope Rated course the player with a GA Handicap of 0.0 will play off 0. And on a Slope Rated course of 75, the player with a GA Handicap of 0.0 will also play of 0. Remember that on a high Slope Rated course, the difference needs to increase between the Daily 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 Daily Handicap of a player with a GA Handicap of 0.0, and the Daily Handicap of a player with a GA Handicap of 23.6, will continue to increase. But the player on a GA Handicap of 0.0 is not as good as the player with a GA Handicap of +7.0.

  • So as the Slope Rating of the course increases, the player on a GA Handicap of 0.0 needs more strokes on the player with a GA Handicap of +7.0. And if the 0.0 player’s Daily Handicap is always 0, it means the only way for them to get more shots on the +7.0 player is for the player on +7.0 to have their Daily 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.

When the new GA Handicap System came into effect on 23 January 2014, it required that players in Stroke rounds be handicapped on their Stableford score. What score is a player handicapped on in a Par round?

Clubs continue to play Par competitions exactly as they did prior to the introduction of the new handicap system (players do not record Stableford scores in Par competitions). Any round played under the Par scoring system is converted by GOLF Link into a Stableford score by adding 36 points to the player’s final result (for example GOLF Link will convert a score of 4 down into 32 points; the score of 32 points is the player’s Handicapping Score).

Does this represent a change to the way players were previously handicapped in Par competitions?

No. This is the way players have been handicapped in Par competitions in Australia for decades.

Some people say it is harder to make a good score in Par than in Stableford because you can make 4 points on a hole in Stableford but you don’t get credited with a ‘double plus’ in Par. Is Par a harder game?

No. In general players make notably more ‘wipes’ or ‘washes’ in Stableford than they have 4-point holes. And it takes two 3-point holes in Stableford to make up for a wipe whereas in Par it only takes one hole to make up for a ‘wipe’. Detailed statistical analysis demonstrates that depending on a player’s handicap they score approximately 1.5-2 strokes better in Par than they do in Stableford.

So does that mean my handicap will be lower if I play more Par events?

No. That it is easier to make a good score in Par has been taken into account in the design of the DSR formulas – the formulas are different for Par than for Stableford.

That all makes sense, but because of ‘double-pluses’ and ‘wipes’ (1 Stableford point equates to a wipe in Par and 0 Stableford points also equates to a wipe in Par) it is possible in some cases for a player to get quite a different result in Par than they would if they had been playing Stableford. Wouldn’t it be more equitable to require all players in a Par event to only pick up if they’ve had the equivalent of 0 Stableford points and then to get every player to return a Stableford score as well as a Par score?

Golf Australia has discussed this as an option with many clubs in focus group sessions however there was very little sentiment for the idea. 

There were two main reasons given for this negative sentiment. 

Firstly, some clubs conduct Par events for pace of play reasons, especially in winter when there is less daylight, (Par is quicker than Stableford and Stroke) and it would defeat the purpose of playing a Par event if players were required to play an extra stroke before they could pick-up. 

Secondly, the strong view of clubs was that to play a Par event in this way would be totally contrary to the spirit of Par and that if a regulation such as this were introduced it would serve as a notable disincentive to many clubs when considering to schedule Par events.

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