What Is Golf Handicap Annual Review?

How is a golf handicap review initiated and what does it entail?

What Is Golf Handicap Annual Review
What Is Golf Handicap Annual Review?
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One of the objectives of the World Handicap System (WHS) was to make players’ handicaps more reflective of their current playing ability. The system allows handicaps to be more fluid with calculation based on average scoring rather than aggregate scoring, as per the old system.

A player who regularly enters counting scores from either competitive golf or General Play rounds should see their Handicap Index remain at the correct level for their playing ability.

There may be exceptions though and, for that reason, the handicap review process gives a golf club’s handicap committee the ability to ensure that players at their club have a Handicap Index that is reflective of their playing ability.

A review of a player’s handicap can take place at any point but The R&A’s Rules of Handicapping recommend that a committee carries out a handicap review, of all players at their club who have that club as their home club, at least annually.

WHS software will produce reports and give recommendations to help the handicap committee identify players who might require a handicap review and a player must be made aware and given the chance to contribute towards the handicap review process.

A committee may also choose to conduct a handicap review if a player at their club is consistently returning stores that are either far better or worse than their Handicap Index would indicate.

Alternatively, a player may request a handicap review if they feel their scoring returns are not in line with their Handicap Index.

What Is The Review Process?

handicap review

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According to The R&A’s Rules of Handicapping, when conducting a handicap review, a handicap committee might consider the following:

·      The player’s scoring record history.

·      The trend of the player’s Handicap Index, such as differences in a player’s Handicap Index over the past 12–24 months.

·      Deviations from the expected scoring performance for the player.

·      Frequency of score submissions in the past 12 months versus previous 12-month cycles.

·      Comparison of average Score Differentials between competitive and casual rounds.

·      Comparison of average Score Differentials in match play versus stroke play formats of play.

·      Comparison of average Score Differentials in individual versus team formats of play.

·      Any scores from, or performances known, in non-authorized formats of play.

·      Any other knowledge that the Handicap Committee has relative to the player’s golfing ability. For example, improving play following golf lessons, declining scoring potential due to frequency of playing, ageing, incapacitating injuries or illness, etc.

·      Percentage of acceptable scores submitted at a player’s home club.

·      Percentage of acceptable scores submitted from casual round formats.

·      Percentage of acceptable scores from 9-hole rounds.

·      Identifying relevant handicapping trends for Handicap Committee consideration.

·      Length of time since a player last played to their Handicap Index.

·      Number of scores since a player last played to their Handicap Index.

·      Information supplied by any other golf club where the player is a member.

What action can a committee take?

handicap review

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After considering all of the above, the handicap committee must decide the appropriate course of action for any adjustments to a player’s Handicap Index. They can either:

Reset the Handicap Index by applying an adjustment to each of the most recent 20 Score Differentials in the scoring record, to achieve the chosen Handicap Index that is determined to better reflect the player's demonstrated ability. The handicap committee can remove the adjustment at any time if the adjustment is determined to no longer be warranted. Or;

Freeze the Handicap Index at a certain level for a defined period. During that time a player’s Handicap Index will not be updated by new scores unless it has been frozen only against upward movement. The freeze can be removed at any time and the scores posted (that were not previously recognised) will be used for calculation of the player’s Handicap Index.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?