Golf Australia

Q&A: World Handicap System change to Daily Handicap calculation

Golf scorecard


What is the current Australian formula for determining a Daily Handicap?

Daily Handicap = GA Handicap x (Slope Rating ÷ 113)

How will a Daily Handicap be calculated under the World Handicap System?

Under the WHS formula, one simple extra step is added.

• GOLF Link will start by performing the exact same calculation as currently occurs under the existing GA Handicap System.  And then it will simply adjust this amount by the difference between the Scratch Rating and the Par.

• EXAMPLE 1.  A player’s current Daily Handicap for a set of tees is 15, the Scratch Rating is 72, and the par is 70 (ie the course is rated to be 2 shots harder than its par).

• Because the course is rated to be 2 shots harder than its par, the player gets an extra 2 shots added to their Daily Handicap, so their WHS Daily Handicap becomes: 15 + 2 = 17.

• If the player has 36 points off their new WHS Daily Handicap of 17, they have played to their handicap (under the existing GA method, the player would have needed 34 points to play to their handicap).  Under the WHS method the score is now able to be directly compared with a score returned from any other set of tees – without the need for any adjustment.

• EXAMPLE 2.  Now let’s adjust Example 1 slightly by changing the Scratch Rating to 68, with the same par of 70.  The course is now rated 2 strokes easier than its par so the player has 2 shots deducted from their current Daily Handicap.  Their WHS Daily Handicap becomes: 15 minus 2 = 13.  If the player has 36 points off their new WHS Daily Handicap of 13, they have played to their handicap (under the existing GA method, the player would have needed 38 points to play to their handicap).

• And again, the score will now be able to be directly compared with a score returned from any other set of tees – without the need for any adjustment.

• For the mathematicians, the full formula is: Daily Handicap = (GA Handicap x Slope Rating ÷ 113) + Scratch Rating minus Par

What extra work will be required of clubs and golfers when this change is made?

None at all.  Golfers and clubs will not have to perform the calculation themselves.  It will be done for them by all software.  It will also be factored into the Daily Handicap look-up charts GA produces for all clubs.

Is the new method for calculating a Daily Handicap a part of any current handicap system?

The new method has been a popular component of the handicap system used by European countries for almost 20 years.  (The European Golf Association Handicap System has included Slope throughout this time.)

So the ‘Scratch Rating minus Par’ adjustment will be a part of the new global standard for determining a Daily Handicap.  Is this a new handicapping formula?

No.  It is already a part of every handicap system.  However all handicap systems, except the European system, currently apply the adjustment at a different point in the handicapping process.  The adjustment is currently made to the player’s score at the point where it is processed for handicapping and added to the player’s handicap record.  So it is already effectively used to determine the golfer’s REAL playing handicap, but not in a visible way.  The R&A and USGA believe it is better to move the adjustment into the golfer’s Daily Handicap.

Why do the R&A and USGA believe the change to the Daily Handicap calculation will make handicapping simpler, fairer and more intuitive?

• This is all that needs to happen to enable 36 Stableford points (or net par) to become the equitable measure of whether a player has played to their handicap, irrespective of the course or set of tees.  Many people struggle (for various reasons) with the idea that they are playing against the Scratch Rating and not against the par.  Par is the far more visible value – it is what people play against in Stableford and Par competitions.  It is what a pro’s score is displayed against in televised golf.  The WHS method will make handicapping more simple and intuitive for the regular golfer by providing a Daily Handicap that allows them to equitably play against the par of the course.  Have you ever had a new golfer, or someone with not much handicapping knowledge, ask you: “So, if I have 36 points, will that mean I’ve played to my handicap?”  And has their view that golf is a complex sport been confirmed when you’ve answered: “well, it kind of depends on the Scratch Rating and the par……”?

• Mixed-gender and multi-tee competitions are important to GA and to many clubs because they provide golfers with a more diverse range of playing options and club engagement opportunities.  These competitions have clear participation benefits.  However the feedback from clubs is that the existing score adjustment process for these competitions is complex, misunderstood, and often rejected.  The proposed change to the Daily Handicap calculation will eliminate the complexity from these competitions.

• GA currently encounters problems with clubs that have Scratch Ratings higher than their pars.  The practical feedback from some clubs is that players do not get/accept that their handicap never increases even though their best scores are no better than about 32 points.  Many clubs find it difficult to have their members readily accept that when their Scratch Rating is higher than the par, GOLF Link treats a score as being better than what the player wrote on their score card.

So this change will result in a golfer getting more handicap strokes on a difficult course than they get on a less difficult course?  But doesn’t Slope already give a player all the strokes they need?

No!  Slope only provides fairer handicaps for a competition when all competitors play from the same set of tees.  When Slope was first introduced in Australia in 2014, there was a common public misunderstanding that it would provide fair handicaps for multi-tee competitions.  And for many people this misunderstanding has continued which is fair enough because even for handicapping experts this can be a tricky issue.

There are actually two difficulty ratings in Australian handicapping that work in concert with each other – the Slope Rating and the Scratch Rating.  But whilst the Slope Rating influences a player’s Daily Handicap, the Scratch Rating currently does not.  Currently a player’s score is adjusted against the Scratch Rating AFTER it has been returned and uploaded to GOLF Link.  And because it only happens at the GOLF Link stage, trying to compare the actual scores from different sets of tees is like comparing apples with oranges.

Take any two players with different GA Handicaps – all Slope is designed to do is to provide a fair difference between the Daily Handicaps that are calculated for them.  On an easy course, the less-skilled player’s Daily Handicap might be 20 strokes more than the skilled player’s Daily Handicap.  However on a difficult course the difference between the Daily Handicaps of the two players might expand out to 26 strokes (because the skilled player is better able to accommodate the increased difficulty).  In other words, the Slope Rating determines whether the scale of handicaps should be expanded or contracted.  But it doesn’t provide any information on whether either player has actually played to their handicap – this is the job of the Scratch Rating.  What the Scratch Rating does is it creates a scale for comparing the difficulty of all Australian courses.  By factoring the Scratch Rating into the calculation of the Daily Handicap it will see all Daily Handicaps have an equalised starting point, irrespective of the course being played.

Can you provide some examples of Daily Handicap calculations under both the new and old methods?

ABC Golf Club

• Member X’s GA Handicap is 1.8
• Member Y’s GA Handicap is 29.6
• White tees (5721 metres)
   - Scratch Rating 70
   - Par 72
   - Slope 122

• Black tees (6357 metres)
   - Scratch Rating 73
   - Par 72
   - Slope 128


• White tees
   - Member X: 2
   - Member Y: 32
   - Both players: 38 points required to play to handicap.

• Black tees
   - Member X: 2
   - Member Y: 34
   - Both players: 35 points required to play to handicap


• White tees
   - Member X: 0
   - Member Y: 30
   - Both players: 36 points required to play to handicap

• Black tees
   - Member X: 3
   - Member Y: 35
   - Both players: 36 points required to play to handicap

Is there a statistical downside to this change?

No.  GA’s chief statistician strongly supports this change.

Will there be any downside at all to this change?

Whether or not there is any downside depends on personal preference.  Under the WHS method, when a player moves from forward tees to back tees at a course their Daily Handicap will shift by a greater amount than it does under the current GA Handicap System method (the example above provides a demonstration).  Some people may potentially prefer very low movement in their Daily Handicap, whereas other people will prefer a transparent and equitable handicap allocation that enables direct comparison with all other scores without need for adjustment.

Will the WHS include a statistical daily rating system similar to DSR?

Yes.  If an unusually low proportion of competitors in a field play to their handicap then scores used for handicapping will be improved.  If an unusually high proportion of competitors in a field play to their handicap then scores used for handicapping will be downgraded.


Posted by Muz at
24/08/2018 08:57 PM
Echo the confusion around DSR, however I can see an opportunity for clubs to include a new type of competition in their rota - choose your own tee. Players can nominate which tee they play off as the first strategic decision of the day as theoretically all scores are normalised. Sounds interesting.
Posted by Darren Mallett at
07/06/2018 09:50 PM
So your final FAQ point regarding a calculation similar to DSR being applied confirms that 36 points many not mean someone has played to their handicap. A player can submit a card of 36 stableford points thinking he or she has played to their handicap only to discover AFTER the comp that the score has been improved or downgraded.
Posted by warren at
07/05/2018 01:16 PM
Agree with comments from Paul T and James P - the DSR is meant to take into account the weather on the day etc isn't it? If DSR is 72 against par of 71 but it is howling and at the old point of 12.5% of field the score is 30 points then in theory the DSR should be 77 which may have meant a 74 that was actually used. How does allowing for DSR pre round take into acct the day's climate/difficulty?
Posted by Robert Grant at
13/04/2018 12:29 PM
When is this new system suppose to start and replace the old - Which sucks???
Posted by James Power at
20/03/2018 12:42 PM
Two issues I still don't see explained: 1. you don't seem to be mentioning the DSR. The latest info regarding the new WHS is promoted by GA as "This is all that needs to happen to enable 36 Stableford points (or net par) to become the equitable measure of whether a player has played to their handicap, irrespective of the course or set of tees." However this ignores the DSR which will obviously have a major effect on whether or not I played to my handicap eg. playing on wet/windy weather where the DSR end up 4 shots higher than the SR. How will this change, if at all? 2. Will that column disappear now that is headed "Slope played to"? I still can't understand how this works. My daily handicap rises because of the slope number and I have 36 points but that column then says that I Slope-played to a lower handicap. This doesn't make sense. It looks like you adjust twice for slope.
Posted by Gray Stanton at
03/03/2018 06:58 PM
Will the calculation used by GA to determine the DSR remain the same, or will it change under the WHS?
Posted by Golf Australia at
28/02/2018 11:45 AM
GA answer to Brendan: You can find information regarding the determination Scratch and Slope Ratings via the following link:
Posted by Golf Australia at
28/02/2018 10:38 AM
GA note regarding Paul Thurlow’s post: Next week we will publish an article on “Why 8 of 20”.
Posted by Golf Australia at
28/02/2018 10:36 AM
GA answer to John Peyton: Some clubs already allow players to choose which set of tees to play from for the day and still qualify for the one daily competition. Our feedback from club officials is that far more clubs will offer the flexibility of conducting multi-tee competitions once the World Handicap System comes into effect.
Posted by Steve at
27/02/2018 10:56 PM
Let's give it a try, as it can't be any worse than what we have at the moment.
Posted by paul thurlow at
27/02/2018 10:06 PM
Isnt the scratch rating calculated once all the cards are in for a competition? So if the scratch rating is 74 and par is 72 you don't get your handicap increased by 2 before you hit off. I don't get it and i'm a mathematician. I'm also a statistician and using the best 8 scores out of 20 rounds is blatantly skewed to give players a lower handicap than what their average score is. Again very poor system.
Posted by Brendan at
27/02/2018 05:10 PM
I may be a dummy here - how is the Scratch rating evaluated? Its the only thing not in the article or FAQ
Posted by John Peyton at
27/02/2018 04:38 PM
Does this change mean that a player may choose which tees to play from and still qualify for the Club daily competition

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