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Unified Handicapping System

Bernard Minion, who is a member of Newark Golf Club and a member of the Seniors, has compiled this useful explanation on the calculation of the players nett differential following a qualifying competition.................

THE UNIFIED HANDICAPPING SYSTEM

The central tenet of the CONGU Unified Handicapping System is the calculation of the player’s “nett differential” following a “qualifying competition”.
This is the “plus” (+) or “minus” (-) difference in relation to “zero” when the “competition standard scratch” has been determined by any adjustments to the “standard scratch score”.  It is this nett differential that brings about any alteration in a player’s handicap.

Calculation of the Competition Standard Scratch

As the CSS is an integral part of the CONGU handicapping system, a brief note on how the calculation is made will be appropriate.  The CSS table in Appendix B of the UHS is based on the known performance of golfers in different handicap categories in a range of golfing conditions.  In “normal” playing conditions, for example, 37-68% of participating Category 1 players are expected to return nett scores to the SSS +2 or better.  In contrast, in the same conditions only 16-30% of Category 3 players are expected to return nett scores to the SSS +2 or better.  In competition situations when course conditions are more, or less, favourable than “normal”, these percentages will increase or decrease accordingly, resulting in movement of the SSS as expressed by the CSS.

The mechanics of the CSS calculation are:
Establish the composition of the “field” as a percentage of each Handicap Category excluding Category 4 for men or Category 5 for ladies.
eg. 10% Cat 1     50% Cat 2     40% Cat 3 + Cat 4 for ladies
Establish the percentage of the “field” (Cat 1 + Cat 2 + Cat 3 (+ Cat 4) with a nett score of SSS +2 or better eg. 20%.
Refer to Table in Appendix B.
Using this example the CSS would be the SSS +1.
It should be noted that Category 4 for men and Category 5 for ladies are excluded from the calculation.  It is also important to note that the calculated CSS can only vary from SSS +3 to -1.
As each handicap category has a different reduction percentage and “buffer zone”, this nett differential might best be illustrated by a number of examples.  All categories have the same increase percentage of 0.1.

Stroke Play Competitions

1.  A category 2 player (6-12), playing off 8.6 returns 87 in a qualifying competition.  The CSS is calculated to be 73, 2 more than the SSS of 71.  The player’s nett score is therefore 87-9 ie. 78, but the CSS is +2 in relation to the SSS ie. 2 strokes more difficult than “normal” due to, for example, weather conditions, pin positions etc.  This will then result in a nett differential of 78-73 ie. +5.  For this handicap category the buffer zone is 0-+2.  Therefore the player’s score is outside the buffer zone and the player’s handicap will be increased by 0.1, from 8.6 to 8.7 (9).
2.  A category 3 player (13-20), playing off 15.0 returns 88 in a qualifying competition.  The CSS is calculated to the same as the SSS of 71.  The player’s nett score is therefore 88-15, ie. 73, resulting in a nett differential of 73-71 ie. +2.  The player’s returned score for handicapping purposes is within the buffer zone for this category (0 to +3) and the player’s handicap will remain the same.
3.  A category 4 player (21-28), playing off 24.7, returns 88 in a qualifying competition.  The CSS is calculated to be 70, 1 less than the SSS of 71.  The player’s nett score is therefore 88-25, ie. 63, but the CSS is -1 in relation to the SSS ie. 1 stroke less difficult than “normal” due to, for example, easier pin positions, more roll, calm weather, etc.  This will result in a nett differential of 63-70, ie. -7.  For this handicap category the buffer zone is 0 to +4 and is irrelevant as his nett differential in relation to zero is -7.  The player’s handicap will be reduced by 0.4 for each stroke below zero, ie. 7x0.4 = 2.8.  The player’s handicap becomes 24.7-2.8 = 21.9 (22).

A very significant CONGU requirement that applies to ALL STROKE PLAY qualifying scores is Clause 19, Stableford/Nett Double Bogey Adjustment.  The purpose of this adjustment is to place a limit on the maximum score that can be recorded at any hole in order to make handicaps more representative of a player’s potential ability.  This control is for handicap purposes only and cannot be used to alter the outcome of a stroke play competition.

The “nett double bogey” rule has the effect of lessening the impact of the (occasional) “bad” score on a player’s return.  It might also allow a player who does not complete a hole, for any reason, to record a score for handicap purposes, thus sustaining his golfing interest and at the same time providing useful handicap information.  It is important that competitors are made aware of the intent of this Clause and to take advange of it.  Clearly, this will reduce the incidence of “No Returns”, that can, on occasions, represent an undesirable proportion of the competition entry.

Two typical examples of this Stableford Adjustment to a stroke play qualifying round will illustrate not only the potential effect on a returned score, but also on whether or not an adjusted score returns a player back into the “buffer zone”.  Conversely, the adjustment might reduce the player’s nett differential below “zero” and indicate a handicap reduction.
1.  A player (handicap 18) returns a nett score of 70.  This equals the CSS.  The scorecard contains an 8 on a par 4 hole (a “stroke” hole for stableford purposes).  The nett double bogey score becomes 7 (4+2+1) resulting in the 8 being reduced to 7 (for handicap purposes) with a consequent reduction in the nett score to 69 (nett differential -1) and a handicap reduction of 0.3.
 2.  A player (handicap 25) returns a nett score of 79.  The CSS is calculated to be 74 (3 more than the SSS of 71).  Before any stableford adjustment, the player’s nett differential would have been +5 and is outside his buffer zone (0 to +4).  The player would have received a handicap revision of 0.1.  The scorecard however includes a 12 on a par 5 (stroke index 2).  The nett double bogey becomes 9 (5+2+2).  The scorecard also includes a 9 on a par 4 (stroke index 5).  The nett double bogey becomes 8 (4+2+2).  These two adjusted scores have the effect of reducing the nett score of 79 to 75 (nett differential of +1).   The player is then within the buffer zone (0 to +4) and the player’s handicap remains the same.

Stableford Competitions

Here, nett differentials are calculated in much the same manner as stroke play qualifiers.  To calculate the CSS for Stableford competitions a similar procedure of “field composition” and their respective returns, is used.  (note Category 4 for men and Category 5 for ladies are again excluded).  The converted equivalent of a score of SSS +2 or better is stated to be “Par less SSS +36 less 2”.  The table in Appendix D is then applied to these converted equivalents and a formula based on a “perfect” scratch score of 36 points is used, ie. a scratch player scoring 2 points each hole.  A player’s nett differential is then calculated as follows:   
36 minus the points scored in a qualifying competition.  This of course might be a “plus” (+) or “minus” (-) value.  Add to this the par of the course, and take the calculated CSS from this value.   Again, three examples to illustrate:
1.  A player returns 42 points in a qualifying competition which has a par of 71 and a CSS of 73.  The calculation of nett differential therefore becomes,
36–42 ie. -6
Add -6 to par of 71 ie. 65
Take 73 from 65 ie. -8
The player has a nett differential of 8 below zero (-8), and depending upon the handicap category, will have a reduction of 0.8, 1.6, 2.4 or 3.2.
A player returns 35 points in a qualifying competition, which has a par of 71 and a CSS of 74.  The calculation of nett differential therefore becomes,
36-35 ie. +1
Add +1 to 71 ie. 72
Take 74 from 72 ie. -2
The player has a nett differential of 2 below zero (-2) and depending upon the handicap category will have a reduction of 0.2, 0.4, 0.6 or 0.8.
A player returns 27 points in a qualifying competition that has a par of 72 and a CSS of 71.  The calculation of nett differential therefore becomes,
36-27 ie. +9
Add +9 to 72 ie. 81
Take 71 from 81 ie. +10.
The player has a nett differential of 10 above zero (+10) and the buffer zones for all categories are exceeded and therefore the handicaps will be increased by 0.1 regardless of category.

Reduction Only Qualifying Competitions

As stated earlier, Appendix B of the CONGU manual determines any adjustments to be made to the SSS to provide the CSS for a particular qualifying competition.  Under certain circumstances, when for example only a few nett scores are close to the SSS or better, the table in Appendix B will Direct that the qualifying competition and thus the returned scores, will be for Reduction Only.
When the table in Appendix B indicates that the returned scores are for R/O, then the CSS is capped at three strokes more that the SSS.  All players who, after the application of this capped CSS to their scores, have returned a nett differential below zero will have their exact handicaps reduced to the extent dictated by this minus difference.  A nett differential above zero will not result in a handicap increase.

The CONGU manual also provides policies, procedures and requirements on various other aspects of the handicapping system which are mandatory on both the Affiliated Clubs and the player himself/herself.   Amongst these are,
The establishment of the Standard Scratch Score and Course Measurement.
The establishment of Par.
The procedure for establishing nett differentials in Par competitions.
Qualifying Competition status.
Requirements for Licensed Software Applications.
Annual Handicap review procedures.
Suspension, lapses and loss of handicaps.
The responsibilities of the player himself/herself.

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