By Kent Gray
Three months after the R&A and USGA rolled out the new World Handicap System on Jan. 1, the Emirates Golf Federation (EGF) has begun phasing in the changes not already introduced across the UAE.
The new system, which stemmed from the modernised Rules of Golf introduced last year and incorporates the Rules of Handicapping and the Course Rating System, consolidates the half dozen handicap calculations previously used around the world into a single, portable Index.
It will enable golfers across the EGF network to:
• Obtain and maintain a handicap Index
• Use their handicap Index on any golf course around the world
• Compete, or play recreationally, with anyone else on a fair and equal basis
Beginning March 1, what the EGF are terming phase one of the UAE roll-out, each golfers handicap will come under the new “Live” World Handicap System which will mean a daily revision at 10pm UAE time with the average of the best eight out of the last 20 (18 hole) games counted. Also from March 1, the maximum handicap for all genders will be 54.
The EGF will begin phase two on June 1 by:
• Amending the Course Handicap calculation formula to include the adjustment of the difference between Course Rating and Par
• Limit on Upward Movement of Handicap Index– using a ‘Soft Cap’ and ‘Hard cap calculator and adjustments. Under the soft cap, when a player’s new Handicap Index increase is greater than 3.0 strokes, the value above 3.0 strokes is restricted to 50 percent of the increase. The hard cap triggers to restrict a player’s Handicap Index to never increase more than 5.0 strokes above their Low Handicap Index.
• Put the ‘Exceptional Scores’ component of the World Handicap System into play.
When an exceptional score is posted to a player’s scoring record, the Handicap index will be reduced in accordance with the following adjustment table:
There is a dedicated page on the EGF website with educational videos to explain the various points in detail. The EGF urges members to continue referring to the page for “regular updates”.
Key features of the World Handicap System – What’s new and already in place in the UAE?
Interestingly, the EGF have decided not to apply the ‘Abnormal Course and Weather Conditions Adjustment’ available under the new system. It considers the impact of daily course or weather conditions on each golfer’s performance and promises “conservative” adjustments “only be made when there is clear evidence that an adjustment is warranted.”
Here’s what’s new (from March 1, 2020) or already existing under the EGF’s jurisdiction:
Calculation of playing handicap (EXISTING)
The number of strokes received during a round will be based on the choice of course, tees and format of play. This will include any Handicap Allowances that have been set to promote fairness of play.
Submit your score (EXISTING)
The player should submit their score as soon as practicable after completing the round, preferably before midnight on the day of play for inclusion in the daily revisions. This allows a responsive update of the player’s handicap for the next day they play.
Minimal number of scores to obtain a handicap (NEW as at March 1, 2020)
To encourage new players to the game, the minimum number of holes is 54, in any combination of 9-hole or 18-hole rounds. i.e. 3 x 18-hole rounds (6 x 9-hole rounds)
Maximum Handicap (NEW as at March 1, 2020)
Under the new system, the maximum handicap that can be issued to a player of any gender is 54.0.
Basis of Handicap Calculation (NEW as at March 1, 2020)
Averaging the best 8 (eight) of a player’s most recent 20 scores provides a good indicator of potential ability. When combined with memory of demonstrated ability over time, the resulting handicap provides a balance between responsiveness and control – so a temporary loss of form should not automatically lead to an excessive increase in handicap.
Daily Revisions (NEW as at March 1, 2020)
The player should submit their score as soon as practicable after completing the round, preferably before 8pm on the day of play. This allows for a responsive update of the player’s handicap before the next day they play (daily at 10pm UAE time).
Acceptable Scores for Handicap Purposes (EXISTING)
Singles and Stableford formats of stroke-play competitions must be submitted by all players. National Associations have discretion within their jurisdiction to decide if other acceptable formats of play can be submitted for handicap purposes – giving players plenty of opportunities to submit scores and provide evidence of their potential ability.
Maximum Hole Score (EXISTING)
Golfers of all skill levels will occasionally make a high score on a hole, which does not reflect their potential. Under the new system, the maximum score per hole will be limited to Net Double Bogey, which is the equivalent of zero points in Stableford formats.
Course Rating and Slope Rating (EXISTING)
Course Rating indicates the difficulty of a golf course for a 0-handicap golfer. Slope Rating is relative to the Course Rating, providing strokes needed to play at the same level as the 0-handicap golfer for a specific set of tees. Course and Slope Ratings enable golfers’ handicaps to be portable from course to course, country to country.
9-Hole Scores (EXISTING)
The new system can accept both 9-hole and 18-hole score formats for handicapping purposes. 9-hole rounds are combined to form C9 18-hole rounds in the order they are played.
In an email explainer to all members, the EGF said “golfers should feel like they can simply play and enjoy their round – just the same as always” under the new World Handicap System.
“First and foremost, there is no intention to change the way golf is played around the world. The World Handicap System is designed to accommodate the many different golfing cultures, whether they be predominantly recreational or competitive in nature, or whether there is one particular format of play that is more popular than others. Go out and enjoy your round!”