Low markers disadvantaged with new handicapping method

Golf Australia have been monitoring the new handicapping system and it seems golfers with low handicaps are worse off.

The introduction of the new handicapping system to Australia has brought with it a huge amount of controversy. As with any changes in golf there will always objections but Golf Australia have made sure they have a good, factual idea of what effect the new system has had on club competition golf.
A statistical analysis of all club competitions  was undertaken since the implementation of the USGA method was introduced. The most interesting finding was that low markers are disadvantaged when it comes to winning club competitions.
Here is what Golf Australia found:
  • The scores required to win competitions, or to win prizes (eg balls) in competitions, vary depending on the field size.
  • Under the New System, the low marker finds it harder to compete as the field size increases. Under the New System, the field size value at which a low marker is disadvantaged is about 50 for men, and 100 for women. Low markers do still compete and are winning competitions in very high field sizes, but as the field size increases the bias becomes more and more unfavourable for the low markers and favourable for the high markers. 
  • Under the New System the most frequent winning score for field sizes of between 6 and 10 is 37 points. As the field size increases this steadily rises to 43 points.
  • Under the Old System, there was a significant advantage to the low markers, which actually grew with field size. 
  • Under the Old System, the high markers were disadvantaged so they won far fewer competitions than their representation in the field. Many of them were chronically playing at handicap levels far in excess of their playing handicaps. Essentially this was due to the uneven way that differentials were applied. Handicaps for high markers only “eased out” by 0.1 stroke for a poor round, no matter how poor, but they were tightened far more quickly if the player had the occasional good round.
This information has lead Golf Australia to believe some fine-tuning of the current handicapping method should be implemented. Look out for these changes in the coming months.

13 thoughts on “Low markers disadvantaged with new handicapping method

  • The player in the photograph looks like a very very low marker

  • If the comps are played in grades then this would not be an issue. Single figure markers always find it difficult to win in an open comp.

  • this system has worked very well in rest of the world (except uk) for a number of years. why tinker with it ?
    i suspect part of the reason is that the greater the number of cards that are submitted the more accurate the handicap. ultimately the system should take the BEST 10 of the LAST 20. it may be that a lot of higher handicappers don’t play as much as low handicappers therefore haven’t submitted 20 cards. this is not helped by the strange ruling in australia that only competition rounds are included. in Asia every round with a bona fide golfer as marker is included
    message ? leave well alone.

  • main problem have in our clubs is the ppl who rort it no if they have a good round dropping out they have a poor round, and a lot of them on golf link use the calculator to work out what hanicapp they will be with a certian score for next week when there is a monthly medal up for grabs

  • There are a number of reasons that this has worked elsewhere and is not working to the same extent here.

    For one, there are generally no weekly comps in the US and many other countries. People just show up and play.

    Also, we can’t just hand in a card here, it has to be a card where the round was played in a comp and the card signed by your playing partner.

    One more for the road, generally speaking single markers are typically quite consistent and only shoot a few better and a few worse than their handicap but long markers (like the guy I played against recently in matchplay – off 30) can come in 10-15 under their handicap and shoot a net 60 or 46 plus points. How is a 3 handicap going to shoot seven under par to make 46 points??

  • This is the first time I’ve seen a proposal to scrap the overall open comp each day.
    Keep the graded comps only, with an emphasis on the A Grade comp? I think I like it.

    More info to be posted here this afternoon…

  • This system is definitely a better indication of your current form where the old system could be an indication of your form from three to six months ago but and this is a big one it lends itself to handicap protection (or in other words cheating). Very easy to go out 3-4 shots in no time at all.

  • If the higher handicaps are winning more often then hopefully they will be playing more often.
    Low handicaps are more likely to keep playing week in week out regardless.
    Whatever keeps the majority of players playing in clubs and in comps I think is best for the game of golf in the long term. The one caveat is to keep out the handicap cheats they can stay at home

  • greg – not that easy to go out 3-4 shots when you have 20 cards there. assuming your average was 18, then your average would have to go to 22 which mean that your next card would have to be some 40 over ? over 5 or 10 high cards you might do it but then some of the other 10 that previously didn’t count may be triggered.

  • I run a nine hole event around Australia and we have noticed a change in low markers going from being competitive, to not competitive, after switching to the new handicapping method. We previously used a % reduction based system which was heavily weighted towards low markers. We do however allow handicaps up to 72 (or 4 shots per hole) in our event and we’re looking at a way to lower the differentials for higher handicap players without altering the players with normal handicaps. Using 9-hole scores also lowers handicaps compared to Golf Link, as your best half of 9-hole scores is usually better than your best half of 18-hole scores, so we are battling with players using lower handicaps for our event compared to golf Link, added to higher handicap players being favoured because of the handicapping method.

  • Aussie Golfer said…

    This is the first time I’ve seen a proposal to scrap the overall open comp each day.
    Keep the graded comps only, with an emphasis on the A Grade comp? I think I like it.

    Graded comps are a band-aid and band-aids prevent proper fixes from occurring. If a low marker is disadvantage to a high marker, then a low A grade marker will still be disadvantage to a high A grade marker, and likewise through the greades.

  • A grade golfers make up such a small percentage of the total golfing population and A grade golfers will continue playing golf (whether social or competitive) regardless of what GA decides to do with handicapping. Once you reach A grade level its hard to give up the sport

    I believe that GA should focus on enticing the the B and C grade golfers who are the majority of golfers to maintain or increase their participation in the sport.

    Most players are playing to have fun and to spend some time with friends. Golf therefore is competing against a host of other activities for leisure time. If C grade golfers see other C grade golfers winning regularly I say it would increase the chances of such a C grader continuing to play. If a C grader sees that A graders are winning regularly then they may question why they participate in such a frustrating and time consuming sport.

    In summary A graders will always play some form of golf and C graders must be persuaded somehow to not walk away from the game

  • My view is that no male golfer under the age of 70 with all limbs intact should have a handicap of more than 20.

    Having said that, Golf Australia have made a complete pig’s ear of bringing in a perfectly good handicap system. It works everywhere else because it is fully implemented everywhere else. They’ve already started tinkering with it without knowing how it will work in Australia when fully implemented. The slope system will fix a lot of the problems, as will the score submission limits. I don;t hand in cards with 8s on them. I consider it cheating. High handicappers on easy courses will find their handicaps slashed, while low handicappers will only lose a shot or so.

    All clubs should offer a gross prize, particularly in medal comps. In many clubs elsewhere, the best gross is the best prize (ie for the best golfer on the day). But we don’t need to go that far. Just have a decent gross prize.


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