Submitting Non-qualifying Away Scores.

Reporting Non-qualifying Away Scores.

Some players seem a little concerned about England Golf’s decision to enforce CONGU Clauses 4.5b and 8.12 of the CONGU Unified Handicapping System and the effect it may have on their handicap.
– Clause 4.5b allows the Union to require a player to return to the Home Club information regarding scores in Non-Qualifying Competitions as provided by Clause 8.12.
– Clause 8.12 states that the player must provide to his Home Club information regarding scores in Non-qualifying Competitions.

In a statement made by Gemma Hunter, Handicap and Course Rating Manager of England Golf, players should not be overly concerned because the submission of theses away scores do not impact directly on their handicap.

The reason for making players submit these away scores is to gather evidence on the performance of players playing Competitions away from their home club.

Over recent years, England Golf has been aware of a number of cases of players who protect inflated handicaps, only to repeatedly collect high-value rewards when playing in competitions away from home and at this stage it is
purely an information gathering exercise to provide clubs with evidence to support handicap reviews.

The ruling has been introduced for members of English golf clubs to stop what England Golf calls rogue players manipulating the system to their advantage.

Because it is difficult to identify individual players the new stipulation requires that everyone playing in non-qualifying competitions away from home must return their scores to their home club. Players who ignore this responsibility could even have their handicap suspended.

England Golf has introduced this clause of the CONGU handicapping system to provide clubs with evidence to support handicap reviews.

The new system will highlight players who, for example, take part in as many competitions as possible at home and whose handicaps creep up 0.1 on every occasion – but who repeatedly win prizes away from home. Similarly, it will
show up the players who play the bare minimum of competitions at home, but who are known for their away successes.’

Following a Continuous Assessment Report or an Annual Review, if there is suspicion over a player’s handicap and known playing ability then looking at a player’s submitted Non -qualifying scores may provide evidence that her/his current Handicap is not a true reflection of their playing ability and a Handicap adjustment is justified.

The new rule applies to all stroke play scores returned under competition conditions, including team events.
Individual scores or Team results must be returned in all Singles, Am-Am and 4BBB with the exception of Texas Scrambles, Foursomes and Greensome competitions, or casual social rounds.

Another comment by Gemma Hunter, states, “We’re not talking about a sleeve of balls. These are big prizes including luxury trips overseas, sets of clubs and electric trolleys. It’s essential to do this to protect the integrity of the system. We can’t sit back and let people manipulate the system, but without evidence clubs can’t take any action.

It’s not about recording every score in a Fourball Better Ball but returning the team score.

If the same individuals or teams keeping winning or coming near the top of leader boards at events away from home, that should at least indicate to their club’s handicapping officials that further investigations are required – and the only way to achieve that is by asking for all the scores
to be reported.

Social golf is not affected, but clubs are advised to be aware of performances in swindles which the handicap committee could take into account at the annual review.

England Golf also recommends that clubs which run non-qualifying open competitions should inform the prize winners’ home clubs of their scores.”

Individual scores or Team results must be returned in all Singles, Am-Am and 4BBB with the exception of Texas Scrambles, Foursomes and Greensome competitions, or casual social rounds, failure to return these scores by the
player could result in loss or suspension of handicap under clause 24.1.

If and when the New world Handicap System comes into operation these non-qualifying scores should be recorded automatically and rogue players identified by the Handicap Software ‘factoring in memory of demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control’, which means it will pick up players whose recorded scores may indicate a playing ability different from that expected from their handicap, either better or worse.

You can download a copy of England Golf’s Recording of Non-qualifying Scores by clicking on the download button below:

Download “England Golf Recording of Non-qualifying Scores” Recording-of-Non-Qualifying-Scores.pdf – Downloaded 29 times – 215 KB

You can download a copy of England Golf’s Reporting Non-Qualifying Scores Q&A by clicking on the download button below:

Download “England Golf Non-qualifying Scores Q&A” Non-Qualifying-Scores-QA-2017.pdf – Downloaded 19 times – 256 KB

So enjoy your golf, but play fair and help root out these bandits.



Rules of Golf Blog:

Can Shotgun Starts be Run as Qualifying Competitions?

I received a question recently as to the status of Shotgun Starts and whether they could be run as Qualifying Competitons for Handicap Purposes

Under the Rules of Golf, a Committee is at liberty to set any teeing ground where a player will start her/his round and can stipulate the order in which holes are to be played in that round, so covering split tee starts and shotgun

Under the CONGU Unified Handicap System Decision 1(g) Shotgun Starts may be played as Qualifying Competitions so long as the course being played conforms to Competition Playing Conditions

Definition: Competition Play Conditions
Competition Play Conditions prevail during Stroke Play, Par/Bogey and Stableford competitions over 18 holes and for competitions played over a Designated Nine-Hole Course under the Rules of Golf from Competition Tees.
Competition Play Conditions shall not prevail when the length of the course played varies by more than 100 yards (91 metres) from the length of the Measured Course.
Note 1: Special rules apply when the length of a Measured Course has been temporarily reduced or increased – see Clause 13.
Note 2: Special rules apply to Nine-Hole Qualifying Competitions – see Clause 22.

Decision: Dec.1(g) Status of a competition in which shotgun starts are employed or competitors are authorised by the Committee to start other than at the first tee.
Competitions in which competitors are authorised by the Committee to commence play elsewhere than from the first tee will be Qualifying Competitions for handicap purposes provided all other requirements of the
UHS are satisfied. This includes ‘Shotgun Starts’.

So the answer is yes, Shotgun Competitons can be organised as Qualifying Competitions.

England Golf Update on Golf World Handicap System – 2 May 2019

England Golf Update on Golf World Handicap System – 2 May 2019

Golf’s new World Handicap System (WHS) remains on track for implementation starting in 2020, according to The R&A

However, it is now  anticipated that England will not implement it until the Autumn of 2020.

The system is designed to bring the game of golf under a single set of Rules for handicapping and provide a more consistent measure of players’ ability between different regions of the world,

Education has begun with events being held in Singapore, South Africa, Great Britain and Ireland, Japan, Argentina, Brazil, Continental Europe, Canada, the Caribbean and the USA.

A secure resource portal, accessible via, has also been launched to provide national associations with a library of materials that they can use to help support their own education efforts.

Coinciding with this release, The R&A and the USGA are launching a social media video campaign to remind golfers of the eight key features of the new Rules of Handicapping and to reveal more details.  These features include:

  • Minimum number of scores to establish a Handicap Index and maximum Handicap Index of 54.0
  • Basis of calculation of Handicap Index
  • Acceptability of scores for handicap purposes
  • Course Rating and Slope Rating
  • Calculation of a Playing Handicap
  • Maximum hole score for handicap purposes
  • Adjustments for abnormal playing conditions
  • Frequency of updating a Handicap Index

Significant progress has been made in preparation for the rollout of the new system, which includes building a library of education materials, finalising the new Rules of Handicapping, release of the technical specifications and the continuation of testing. Many national associations around the world are busy ensuring that their golf courses are rated in accordance with the Course Rating System and working to update local software platforms so that they are ready to apply the new Rules of Handicapping.

While many countries will be ready to transition to the WHS early in 2020, given both the magnitude of the change for some jurisdictions and varying seasonality throughout the world, it is anticipated that some will need more time.

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “There are many ways in which it is important for golf to modernise and become more appealing for people thinking of taking up the sport and handicapping is clearly one of them. The World Handicap System is a major new initiative for the sport which will establish a clearer and more consistent handicapping process for golfers throughout the world.

“We are working closely with national associations, as we do across all our core activities, to ensure they are fully prepared for the introduction of the new system as soon as possible after it becomes available for implementation.”

“The World Handicap System is the latest example of our work to make the game more welcoming,” said Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA. “Golfers throughout the world will be able to play equitably, measure their success and more fully enjoy and engage with the game. After working with national associations across the world on Course Rating throughout the past 30 years and now the World Handicap System, this monumental collaborative effort will benefit everyone in golf.”

Since its conception, the development of the WHS has focused on three key goals: to encourage as many golfers as possible to obtain and maintain a Handicap Index; to enable golfers of differing abilities, genders and nationalities to transport their Handicap Index to any course around the world and compete on a fair basis; and to indicate with sufficient accuracy the score a golfer is reasonably capable of achieving on any course around the world, playing under normal conditions.

The system has been devised following extensive consultation with the six existing handicapping authorities: Golf Australia, the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) in Great Britain and Ireland, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA), the Argentine Golf Association (AAG) and the USGA. The Japan Golf Association and Golf Canada have also been closely involved in developing the new system.

Widespread support for the WHS was expressed in an international survey of 52,000 golfers with 76% in favour of the new system and a further 22% saying they were willing to consider its benefits. Focus groups were also held in different regions of the world to elicit detailed feedback on the features of the new system, which have contributed to the finalised Rules of Handicapping.

You may read the England Golf Autumn Presentation by clicking on the link below:

England Golf Update on Golf World Handicap System – 2 May 2019

Or Download a copy by clicking on the Download Button below:

Download “England Golf World Handicapping System Autumn Seminar Presentation” – Downloaded 0 times –

Handicapping – Is a Handicap Valid When Leaving a Golf Club?

Is a Handicap Valid When Leaving a Golf Club?

Another recent enquiry, concerning handicaps was:

A. If you have entered the required competitions to have an active handicap at the end of 2018 but do not join a club in 2019 is your handicap valid. There is a difference of opinion at our club- some say it would be valid for 12months and some say once you are no longer a member of a club your handicap is no longer valid. Your answer please.

A. It is a confusing situation for many because although CONGU state that as soon as you leave an affiliated Golf Club you lose your Handicap, they do state that if you re-join your club or another club within a twelve-month period your handicap can be re-instated at your previous level and if it held ‘c’ status then this is valid for the remainder of the year in which you left/resigned and the following full calendar year.

So, if you leave your club your handicap is lost immediately you leave, and this will effectively prevent you from playing in any handicap competitions/events.

Although having lost your handicap, if it was competitive (‘c’) when you left or resigned, the ‘c’ status remains valid for the remainder of the calendar year of resignation/leaving and for the full following calendar year.

The relevant clauses from the CONGU Unified Handicap System Manual are:

CONGU Clause 24.7.

24.7 A player’s handicap is lost immediately s/he ceases to be a Member of an Affiliated Club or loses her/his amateur status.

CONGU Clause 26.1.

26.1 A CONGU® Handicap is lost when a player ceases to be a Member of an Affiliated Club. When a player resigns from a club and joins another there is often a time interval between the two memberships. If the handicap of a player is to be restored within twelve months of the date on which his handicap was lost, or suspended, it must be reinstated at the same handicap the player last held. In restoring the handicap of a player whose ‘c’ status handicap has been lost in such circumstances that ‘c’ status shall remain valid for the remainder of the calendar year of resignation and for the full following calendar year. In all other cases the player shall be allotted a new handicap after he has complied with the requirements of Clause 16.

When a player has transferred to a new club within the same jurisdiction that player’s CDH number transfers with him. Clubs must obtain that number from the player (even if there has been a period of time when the player was not a Member of either club) and must follow the guidance of the software provider(s) to ensure that the CDH number is transferred correctly. In Ireland, a player transferring to a new club obtains a new CDH number.

26.2 When restoring a handicap which has been lost or suspended for more than twelve months the Handicap Committee, in addition to proceeding as required by Clause 16, must give due and full consideration to the handicap the player last held (see Clause 16.3). A Category 1 handicap must not be allotted without the approval of the Union or Area Authority if so delegated.

England and Ireland delegate responsibility for approval of Category 1 restorations to their Area Authorities. `Scotland and Wales make no delegation under this clause.

If you have held a CONGU handicap and CDH number, that CDH ID number and handicap goes with you (in Ireland each club will issue a new CDH ID number), so make sure that the handicap secretary of the club you are leaving has removed you from that club’s database. It is your responsibility, when re-joining your club or joining another club, to provide information on your previous golf experience and handicap. Similarly, it is a responsibility of the club to request that information. All handicaps remain in place for the calendar year after the player attained it.

Otherwise a minimum 3 cards must be submitted. The committee must take your original handicap into account when allocating your new one.

Enjoy your Golf,



Rules Blog:

2019 CONGU Unified Handicap System Manual


Hope you all have enjoyed a wonderful Christmas and looking forward to a New Year of Golf.

Just a quick note to let you know that CONGU have just released their 2019 Version of the UHS Handbook.

You will be able to download a Player’s Quick Guide, Secretaries Quick Guide and a Full Version of the Manual if you click on Quick Guide to 2019 CONGU UHS.

Happy New Year and good golf!



Rules Blog:


World Handicap System – 2020

With all the hard work and preparation under way for the introduction of the New Rules of Golf in January 2019, it is also time to give consideration to the World Handicap System to be launched in March 2020.

England really is the only country that has not embraced the use of Course Rating and Slope, unlike Wales, Scotland and Ireland,

Australia introduced it in 2014 and South Africa in September 2018, along similar lines to the USGA system.

It is now time for us to take a look at the System and what it may mean to Golfers in England.

As you may appreciate not all aspects of the System have been decided upon to date but you can get some idea of what we will be looking at by clicking here and visiting my webpage World Handicap System

Have a good weekend and enjoy your golf,


Mixed Golf – Competition Handicap Allowance/Equalising Strokes

I recently received a question by email from one of my readers in which she says:

‘Hi Tony. Hope you can help clear this up. Our club has recently introduced mixed golf comps. The men play of the back tees and ladies off red forward tees. The Ladies SSS 69 and Men’s 67.  Therefore under congu the ladies were given 2 shots off their scores. Recently this has changed, and the ladies are no longer being given shots back as the Pro says this is not a rule but just CONGU guidance, and that as the ladies were coming in with good scores they have decided to trial the comps without any extra shots being given. My argument here is that we are playing off the harder course. It has been allocated a higher SSS. The pro says as we are a short course that this shouldn’t make a difference. Who is right? Can a club ignore Congu…is it a rule or just guidance?’

My initial comment was, ‘The reader is in fact correct and the adjustment is taken as a rule’.

Handicap Allowances, Competition Handicap Allowances or Equalising Strokes are always a source of contention and misunderstanding. In the past there was always talk of ‘Courtesy Strokes’ for the Ladies. The present-day handicap allowance can be seen to be similar but the Strokes are not given as a courtesy but MUST be given as a right, and not just to the Ladies.

The Playing Handicap Allowance was introduced in 2008 to try to encourage clubs to play more Mixed Golf Competitions. In cases where different sets of tees have been allocated different SSSs there had to be a way to determine a winner of a competition and a way to adjust handicaps in a fair and equitable manner. This was not just Mixed gender competitions but competitions between all sections, Ages and Abilities.

In Mixed Competitions, in order to maintain equity, it was decided to adjust playing handicaps for some competitors to provide a A Competition Handicap Allowance for Competitions played from different tees , players playing from the tees with the higher SSS receiving Equalising Strokes as directed by CONGU. Because it is a directive, identified by the word MUST in the instructions, Clubs do not have any choice over this and failure to do so could be seen as going against the wishes of CONGU that all affiliated clubs agree to uphold, discriminatory or even allowing players, playing the lower rated course, to play off a higher handicap than that to which they are entitled.

The reader mentioned that 2 strokes used to be taken off her score. This was usual in the early days of applying the handicap adjustment, today the adjustment, Equalising Strokes, is added to the player’s handicap before play.

If the format of a competition requires a player to play off a percentage of her/his handicap the allowance is added to their handicap before the percentage is calculated.

One other point, you may hear some members say, ‘the ladies do not need extra strokes, their tees are farther forward than the men’s’ or ‘the ladies will receive equalising strokes because the competition is being played off the men’s card’. This is a myth; the allowance is purely a handicap issue and the adjustment must be made regardless of whichever card the competition is being played against.

As a simple example, as to why this should be, in Medal Stroke Play for the purposes of the competition each player playing the course with the higher SSS MUST be awarded a Competition Handicap Allowance equivalent to her/his playing handicap increased by the difference in the two SSSs. (Should your competition have a handicap limit, if by adding the appropriate number of equalising strokes a player’s Competition Handicap Allowance provides her/him with a handicap greater than the limit, that handicap stands, and they play off that higher handicap).

If a handicap adjustment is not made an unfair result could stand. See below

Using the SSSs supplied by the reader:

Ladies Forward Tee, SSS 69, Men’s Backward Tee, SSS 67,

(Men’s SSS – Ladies’ SSS = 2), Ladies MUST receive 2 Equalising Strokes added to their handicap. if the Ladies Handicap is not increased by 2 then:

Handicap Gross Score Returned SSS for course played Nett Score
Man 18 85 67 67
Lady 25 93 69 68


The Man would be declared winner, which would be wrong because the Lady has in fact played to one under her handicap.

A similar adjustment must be made to playing handicaps in Stableford competitions as well, in these competitions the relationship between SSS and Par is used, and the adjustment would be the difference between the scores required to play to par i.e. (Men’s Par – Men’s SSS) and (Ladies’ Par – Ladies’ SSS). For example, if the Men’s Par was 70 and the Ladies’ par was 70

Player S/ford Points


Par for Course SSS for course played Par – SSS S/ford Points

To Play to Par

Man 39 70 67 3 39
Lady 38 70 69 1 37

The Man would be declared winner, which would be wrong because, again, the Lady has in fact played to one under her handicap.

The Ladies MUST have a Handicap adjustment of 2 strokes being added to their handicap to provide a Competition Handicap Allowance

England Golf have produced a Mixed Tee Handicap Calculator which you can download from here –  Mixed-Tee-Handicap-Calculator.

The comment that it is not a CONGU rule is not quite correct, because it is in fact a CONGU Directive that all Clubs MUST ABIDE TO and is explained in Appendix O – Competitions played from different tees 2018 of the CONGU Unified Handicap System Handbook, a copy of which you can read or download here; the comments on the length of the course are also incorrect, firstly because the provision of a Competition Handicap Allowance is a Handicap issue and nothing to do directly with the geography or playing conditions of a course and secondly because the length of the course has already been taken into consideration by the County Course Rating team when they issue the Course Rating (SSS).

On a competition day, the playing conditions of the course, whether favourable or unfavourable, will also be taken into consideration and reflected in the CSS for that competition taken from the scores returned. Tell your members not to worry about the results returned in competitions using Competition Handicap Allowances, those handicaps are for competition purposes only.

Another point that many golfers fail to realise is that although they are playing physically on a course with all its topographical features and other variables, easy and difficult holes, they are actually scoring against the club scorecard as designed by the Golf Club Committee.

But how many times do you hear ‘I played to par today’ not understanding that ‘par’ would in fact be the SSS for the course they played, or ‘I don’t know why this hole is SI 1’ when a Club may have allocated its SIs to holes relevant to Match Play rather than difficulty of play of a hole as originally suggested by CONGU. (CONGU have now suggested that because Clubs are playing more Stableford competitions Stroke Indices may be allocated according to the difficulty of play of holes or Clubs could print separate Scorecards for Stableford Competitions).

If ‘good’ scores are being returned, handicaps will be adjusted where necessary and scoring will level out naturally. Your Club’s ISV Handicap software should take care of this and apply Exceptional Score adjustments if necessary. Also, if your Mixed Competitions are setup on a computer, your handicap software will automatically apply a Competition Handicap Allowance to the relevant players and this will be reflected in the competition results, Remember, that Competition Handicaps are only used for the competition results and do not count in the CSS calculation.

My own experience lately at my own course is that with the current weather conditions and dry, harder courses and occasionally strong winds, the conditions favour our Ladies and they are returning some exceptionally good scores compared to the Men.

To disallow a Competition Handicap allowance to which a player is entitled to is at best unfair and could be seen as making a player play of a handicap lower than that to which s/he is entitled or on the other side it can be seen as allowing a player, playing the course with the lower SSS, to play off a higher handicap than that to which s/he is entitled.