Why having a valid CONGU handicap is important and how to go about obtaining one.

How Do I Get A Golf Handicap?

Golf is perhaps the only sport where participants of every age and ability can compete against one another on a level playing field.

At Golf Clubs across the country, the Saturday Medal can theoretically be won by any of the competitors on the start sheet.

It’s the handicap that facilitates this incredibly balanced and open system. Here we answer some frequently asked questions about the handicap system in the UK: What is it for? How do you obtain one? How does it change?

What’s a golf handicap and why do I need one?
The handicap is a number assigned to a golfer defining their proficiency. Its function is to give players of all standards an equal chance of victory. In strokeplay the handicap is taken from a player’s total gross score to give their nett score. In matchplay the handicap determines how many shots a player will either give to, or receive from, an opponent.

You need a handicap to participate in club or inter-club competitions. Some golf courses require visitors to produce a certificate confirming they are in possession of a recognised handicap.

Where does the handicapping system come from in the UK?
The Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) is responsible for producing the Unified Handicapping System (UHS.) Each of the eight golfing Unions/Associations in Great Britain and Ireland administers the UHS for its members.

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How do I get a handicap?
In order to be allocated a CONGU handicap you have to be a member of a Golf Club or another organisation that is affiliated to one of the eight aforementioned Unions/Associations.

Then you must submit a number of cards, completing 54 holes. The cards can be a mix of 9 and 18-hole rounds, but 3 x 18 holes is the preferred option. The cards must be completed and signed by someone the Club or organisation deems responsible. The home club or organisation will then allot a handicap based on the best of these three cards.

How do I get my handicap down?
First you must complete a “handicap qualifying” round (the club or organisation’s handicap committee are responsible for stipulating when a round is qualifying) and return a nett score (gross score minus handicap) that is less than the competition standard scratch score (CSS). CSS is a score calculated for each handicap qualifying round. It gives a benchmark, or target, nett score. If you beat CSS by a stroke or more your handicap will be cut.

What about going up?
If your nett score matches CSS or falls within the “buffer zone,” your handicap will remain constant. If you return a higher nett score than this your handicap will increase by 0.1. No matter how high your score is, or even if you fail to return a score, your handicap will only go up by 0.1.

Can I lose my handicap?
If you fail to comply with the obligations and responsibilities of the UHS (repeatedly), or conduct yourself in a manner that is not in the best interests of the game of golf your handicap can be suspended. If you fail to complete three or more qualifying rounds in a year your handicap will lapse.

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