Club Handicaps

The first item on the CONGU Changes for 2018 is the  phasing-out of the Club and Disability Handicaps.

Retirement of Club & Disability Handicaps – As a result of their low impact these have been removed and replaced by a new Category 5 for Men and Category 6 for both Men and Women, providing for a maximum handicap of 54.0 for all golfers. Players will be able to maintain a Competition Handicap in all six categories. Upward adjustment for all categories will remain at 0.1 and downward adjustments for Net Differentials below Buffer Zones will be 0.5 for Category 5 and 0.6 for Category 6.

In January 2016 all Golf Clubs in Great Britain and Ireland were asked to consider the introduction of Club Handicaps, but given the option of introducing them.

The idea behind these higher handicaps was to encourage all members to play more competitive golf and so help to retain club membership.

It was thought, that for beginners and players who perhaps could no longer hit the ball as far as they used to be able, important for their continuing enjoyment of the game that they have opportunities to compete from forward tees that are appropriate to their ability. For many, the Nine-hole Qualifying format could prove to be ideal.

For new golfers, Club Handicaps could prove useful because they would provide a means whereby such players can measure their progress until such time as their ability justifies a handicap of 28/36.

If an initial handicap allocation, suggested by the computer software, would be in the range 29/37-54 then allocation of a Club Handicap might be appropriate, however a Club did not have to award a Club Handicap if it was not thought to be justified.

It was also thought that some golfers currently play in many competitions but stand little chance of winning or may start thinking of drifting away from competitive golf altogether.

At this time the Club Handicaps could not be Competition Handicaps and so Players with a Club Handicap would be restricted entry to some competitions, however the extra strokes might give them a more realistic handicap for their social and club golf.

A player could not be moved to a Club Handicap without his/her agreement nor hold a CONGU Handicap and a Club Handicap at the same time.

So what does all this mean?

Firstly, that in my experience if recommendations or points for consideration are put forward by England Golf or CONGU they are best taken seriously, because sooner or later they will become ‘law’.

Secondly, for those Clubs who grasped the nettle and immediately introduced Club Handicaps of 29-36 for Men and 37-54 for Ladies and considered the implications on Competition Requirements and provision of Trophies etc. the transition in January 2018 will be a breeze; for others it will be back to the drawing board with Handicap and Competition Committees in consultation the decide the best way forward for their individual club.

So after 1st January 2018:

What will happen to existing handicaps?

The CONGU handicaps of 28[36] will disappear and be replaced by 54 for both Men and Ladies, so aligning them with other worldwide handicapping systems. Handicapping software will automatically adjust handicaps past the current limits into a category 5 for Men and a Category 6 for Men and Women when they return scores outside their respective Buffer Zones.

The new categories will be:

Golf Handicap Categories 2018

Exact Handicap
Exact Handicap ladiesPlaying
1Plus to 5.4Plus to 5.4Plus to 5
25.5 to 12.45.5 to 12.46 to 12
312.5 to 20.412.5 to 20.413 to 20
420.5 to 28.420.5 to 28.421 to 28
528.5 to 36.428.5 to 36.429 to 36
636.5 to 5436.5 to 5437 to 54

Will players who previously had a Club Handicap have a CONGU Competition Handicap?

From January 2018, players who have a Club handicap will automatically have an Official CONGU Handicap and this will be a Competition handicap provided they meet the minimum requirement of having submitted 3 qualifying scores.

For players who submitted scores in 2017 and were awarded a Club handicap they will have a CONGU Competition Handicap from 1st January 2018

For players who were awarded a Club Handicap during 2016, they will be awarded a CONGU Competition Handicap, provided they have submitted a minimum of 3 qualifying scores in 2017 otherwise they must submit 3 qualifying scores which could be 18 hole competitions, nine-hole
competitions or Supplementary Scores. Each of these scores shall be entered in the player’s Handicap Record and shall adjust the Exact Handicap in accordance. Once the requisite returns have been entered into the player’s Handicap Record the Competition Status shall be awarded, subject to a review by the Handicap Committee.

What if some of our members refuse to accept a Club handicap?

Players will not be able to refuse an increase in handicap that comes from scores returned in qualifying competitions or are subject to the processess of an Annual Review. However a player may appeal against increase resulting from a Handicap Committee review by following the Handicap Appeals Procedure laid down by England Golf, which at the present time is under review. A copy of the procedure will be posted on this website when it becomes available.

Should all handicaps that are 28[36] be reviewed now?

It is recommended by England Golf that all players currently at the maximum handicap be reviewed with a view to increasing their handicap to a level that reflects their playing ability. These can only  be effective from 1st January 2018 and these players should be identified in the computer generated Annual Review Report together with the Continuous Assesment Report. England Golf have produced a guide on how to employ the Continuous Assessment Report.

if Clubs already have handicap limits on Trophy Competitions, do they have to increase these limits?

Clubs may include any entry requirements in their Conditions of Competitions that they may consider appropriate, including handicap limits. However, Clubs may wish to review any limits to include players who may otherwise be excluded because of the change in handicap limits and in the light of the CONGU recommendation that Competitions Conditions should not include handicap limits because it is seen as acting against the ‘spirit of the game’.

Does a Club have to award an initial Handicap over 28[36]?

A procedure for the allotment of handicaps is set out in Section 16 of the CONGU Universal Handicapping Manual  and this must be followed even if it results in a handicap of over 28[36].

In some Golf Clubs Junior Boys play from the Red Tees until they reach a handicap of 28 when they immediately play off the Men’s Tees. What will happen after 1st January 2018?

A Junior Boy should continue to play from the tees best suited to his standard and ability  and only awarded a CONGU Handicap when he demonstrates that he has reached the level of competency required when playing on a course measured for men. Note that all tees may now be rated for both genders.

Our Club has a system whereby it automatically reduces handicaps for players who win certain trophy competitions.  Can it still do this after 1st January 2018?

NO! Such procedures have always been discouraged within CONGU regulations and as from 1st January 2018; Clubs will be specifically prevented from applying them.

What should a Club consider when organising its Competitions?

Following the Annual Review, and subsequently, a Club should carefully consider the number of Adult members that fall into the new Handicap Categories 5 and 6 and would enter competitions. Consider a small group of players, rather than just one or two entering a competition. This would give a group an opportunity to compete against their peers and new members would benefit from integration into such a group.

Clubs may wish to consider whether they want to adjust their Requirements of Entry to their Strokeplay, Matchplay, trophy or Social competitions to allow players from all categories to participate in them.

A Club could consider a separate division within the main competition for those from Categories 5 and  6 or even run a consecutive competition such as a Nine-hole competition behind the main field.

Matchplay competitions that exclude the lower handicap categories can provide a higher handicapper with a better chance of winning. A Club could even think of introducing a Stableford Trophy solely for category 5 and 6 players.

It is suggested by England Golf that Conditions of Competitions within a Club should use a combination of handicap categories and competition handicap status to determine who is eligible to entr each competition and/or be eligible to be awarded any prizes.

In 2016/7 some Clubs allowed players with Club Handicaps to compete but not to win Trophies or prizes. I do not think this could apply in 2018 especially as the category 5 and 6 Handicaps will be Competition handicaps.

A good example of an Implementation of Club Handicaps Policy can be found at Windlesham Golf Club, follow the link below, but remember that at this moment it relates to 2016 when Club handicaps were not Competiton Handicaps; Windlesham, no doubt, will update their policy for January 2018

Windlesham Golf Club – Implementation of Club Handicaps 2016

A more detailed document regarding their Implementation Club Handicaps can be viewed here.