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After the announcement by Golf Australia in March that Australian golf courses will soon be rated according to the US model, rumours are circulating that a change to the current handicapping system will soon follow. There are meetings set across the country where the implementation for the new system will be discussed and from what I understand it will not be a straight copy of the USGA model but perhaps more like the model adopted by our clever friends in NZ.
What will this mean? Well from a course rating point of view there will be two values assigned to a course, the course rating and the slope rating.
Course Rating is a measurement of difficulty under normal conditions for a scratch golfer. It is based on course length and obstacles that affect the scoring of a scratch golfer.
Slope Rating was originally introduced for this reason:the more difficult a course is, the greater the discrepancy between the scores of stronger and weaker golfers. So it’s a measure of any player’s potential scoring ability on a course relative to the scoring ability of a scratch golfer on the same course. A golf course of average standard playing difficulty has a Slope Rating of 113. The lowest Slope Rating is 55 and the highest is 155.
So for example, Pebble Beach from the championship tees has a course rating of 74.3 and a slope of 144.
Another example from About.com:
Imagine two players, Player A and Player B. Player A is a six handicapper, Player B is a 16 handicapper. On a course of average difficulty (slope of 113), both players are likely to play close to their handicaps.
But as course difficulty increases, Player B’s scores will rise faster than Player A’s. On a course with a slope of 135, Player B might need an additional 10 strokes, while Player A might only need an additional 3.
Getting the feel for it yet? So what about the handicapping changes? It will be fairly complicated just like the current system but I don’t think just because it will be complicated it is bad. It’s complicated because it’s attempting to be fair. Fair for golfers of all abilities and a fair measure of your own golfing ability, something the current system doesn’t always do.
Currently, handicap changes are based on all golfers scores recorded in that particular days competition. A measure of how well your score stacks up against all others that day but this does not include anything that resembles slope. Golfers with low handicaps don’t find difficult courses anywhere near as hard as higher handicappers.
Soon, your handicap will be based on the course difficulty. In fact, before you start a round on any course, you will be assigned a handicap (probably very similar to your home course handicap) to use on that course.
The best thing about it from Aussie Golfer’s point of view is this:
No longer do you have to play in a competition to have your handicap altered. Anytime you play with a fellow golfer who also has an official handicap, your card is handed in for handicapping purposes. Some say this may lead to more cheating which may be true, but for 99.9% of golfers who would just rather a true estimate of their golfing potential this is great news. No longer will we see golfers play endless afternoon rounds of golf only to see them shoot 48 points in the first competition round they’ve played in months.
Got any questions? There’s gotta be plenty.
The sort of examples and explanations I’ve outlined are based on the current USGA system. We will know in the coming months how similar the new Australian Golf handicapping system will be.