FAQ for Clubs

How should a club allocate the Plus strokes for its courses?

When deciding on plus strokes, it is important to consider that the allocation does not necessarily correlate to the stroking.

The main consideration is where a plus-handicap golfer would have the highest chance of playing the hole under par.

In competitions, should all players play the same course?

It depends on the nature of the competition. We encourage clubs to allow players to play off whichever tee they would get the most enjoyment from, since the Course Handicap calculation ensures equity amongst golfer of different capabilities.

The Tournament Organising Committee (TOC) can stipulate the Colour Course to be used in their published Conditions of Competition. Ideally only for certain events, such as Club Champs, Sanlam Cancer Challenge or a major Trophy should a specific course (set of tees) be stipulated.

The new rules, particularly those affecting stroke and distance, will have an impact on course ratings. What will be the effect on the ratings being introduced in September? Will we have to modify cards again?

The impact of, for example, the Red penalty area rule, to be implemented in 2019, will have an impact on certain courses only. Courses where this rule may have an impact on the Course and Slope ratings will be prioritised for re-rating.

There will be engagement with the clubs to determine how they plan to do the marking of their courses using the new rules and an assessment will be made whether the course will be prioritised for re-rating. Should the CR and SR change, clubs should include the new ratings on their scorecards when they reprint.

While they still have their old scorecards the equivalent of a "Pin Sheet" should be attached to the scorecard. The USGA CRS application will be updated and the CH of the golfers will be calculated using the new ratings when they play on the re-rated course.

What handicap (or handicap index) do we give a non-registered golfer?

This is a decision for the organising committee and they could select the Course Handicap that they are comfortable with.

The only guideline is that the organising committee should consider the Course and Slope Ratings of the Courses nominated to be played in the competition in their deliberations to determine the Course Handicap that they will allocate to non-registered golfers.

How do you determine Divisions? Are there going to be guidelines issued and if so when?

The Divisions are determined by the Tournament Organising Committee as a Condition of Competition and it is recommended that the Handicap Index be used to determine the divisions.

GolfRSA (SAGA/WGSA) will not be publishing guidelines.

Will this change the course record?

No, that is the lowest gross score and the Implementation of the USGA Course Rating System would have no impact on Course Records.

How do you handle par 3 holes with distinct angle of approach?

This is taken into account in the rating, especially with carries from different angles. However, a hole is rated from where it is on average played from.

The 96% will fall away in the future, why keep it?

Currently we are only implementing the USGA Course rating system, which will ensure equity by taking the Course rating and Slope Rating of a course into account when issuing a Course Handicap to the player for the day, based on the colour course they selected at a Club.

The decision to keep all the differential calculations the same was taken by the SAGA in order to minimise the variables during this implementation.

However, in 2020 we will be joining the world with a single method of calculation and then the differential calculation method will be the same for all countries in the world.

NOMADS have an adjusted handicap calculation. How are they going to adjust to this?

It is a decision for the Nomads to make since they are not using an official Handicapping methodology. The only guideline we can give is that the Handicap Index is now the official expression of the potential of a golfer and handicaps as we know it today will fall away on September 3, 2018.

Can competitions be played on different tees?

Yes, and it is encouraged.

This rating of courses, is it specific for a season of the year?

No. When rating is done it is based on mid-season (April or October) so it is averaged out.

How will a person adjust from course to course?

Slope and the new course rating will help them get an equitable course handicap and will make things a lot fairer.

Is the 72 hour time limit for entering your score still applicable?

Yes. A decision was made that no other changes will be implemented now.

From which course handicap will a touring pro play off?

That depends on the course slope and rating, but his handicap index will be +6.

What if there are course alterations and adjustments after implementation. How would this affect our course rating?

Distance is still the major driver. A change of 20 metres on the average playing length means 0.1 on the player’s Handicap Index.

If a course makes major changes, it needs to let GolfRSA know so adjustments can be made if required.

What percentage value did you use for effective playing length and for obstacle stroke value?

Distance is by far the major factor and accounts for over 90% of rating.

If a person did not put in his score, will the HNA system penalize that person in the same way as now?


Some clubs have holes that are par 5 for ladies and par 4 for men. In these situations what is the Par to be used when men play the shorter course i.e. Red Course and women play the longer course i.e. White Course

There is only one men’s par for a course and one women’s par for the course hence men will always play the hole as a Par 4 regardless of the Colour Course he elects to play and the women will always play the hole as a Par 5 regardless of the Colour Course she elects to play.

It is advisable that clubs should consider having the same par/hole for men and women.

When the standardisation of Handicaps to Handicap Index calculations are done at midnight on September 02, will the penalties that were applied during the last 20 rounds be applied during the standardisation process.

Yes, all penalties relating to the potential of the golfer will be applied when the standardisations calculations are done.

We would like to know which colour course the Course Handicap the golfer entered on the scorecard relates to. What advice can you give us?

It is suggested that the golfer indicates next to the Course Handicap the colour of the course he/she selected. For example: Y. CH 24 or W.CH 24 or B.CH 24. Clubs should consider if they would like to provide space on the scorecard for this entry when scorecards are designed. The information in the heading of the Handicap space on the scorecard can be: Col. C, CH ,HI.

To be completed by the golfer: R (for red course), 24 (Course Handicap), 15.2 (Handicap Index)

What is the suggested method to adjust the Course Handicap or Handicap Index when Par-3 courses are played? Currently we use 1/3 or ½ of the player’s handicap.

Par-3 courses have not been rated and the method for rating is not the same as the rating for courses of 2 750 metres and longer, on which the USGA Course Rating System is based.

There is a method to do the rating of Par-3 courses and GolfRSA will start this project upon completion of the implementation of the USGA Course Rating System on September 03, 2018.

In the interim it is suggested that the adjustment to the Handicap Index be made by a certain percentage as it is done now. The current method has no scientific base either.

For 9 hole courses, the Course and Slope Ratings document refers to ”Back” and “Front”. What does it mean ?

The “Back” refers to the longer course, or the old “men’s” tees.  The “Front” refers to the shorter course or the old “women’s” tees.  For all 9-hole courses, both the “Back” and “Front” were rated for men, and only the “Front” for women.

It is recommended that clubs consider identifying the two courses by colour, to be aligned with the naming convention proposed. The same method should be used as outlined in the Handicap Manual guidelines, thus the order of courses based on the length of the courses should be Yellow, White, Blue and Red. The longer course can be the White Course and the shorter course the Blue or the Red course. It is recommended that White be used for the longer course and Red for the shorter course. Should clubs decide to select a colour for their courses the information must be sent to Eric Lefson (ericlefson@golfrsa.co.za) to ensure that the data on the USGA and HNA systems is updated and the Course Handicap Conversion Tables refer to the colour courses to make it easy for golfers.

Should a club decide NOT to use colour courses the three Course Handicap Conversion tables will read as follows:

(i)            Course Handicap Conversion Table : Back Men

(ii)          Course Handicap Conversion Table : Front Men

(iii)         Course Handicap Conversion Table : Front Women

When two golfers currently have the same handicap, will their Handicap Index (HI) be the same when the re-calculation of differentials is done on September 3?

No. The standardisation process takes into account the USGA Course Rating (CR) and the Slope Rating (SR) of the courses played during the last 20 rounds entered onto the HNA system. Since the CR and SR of the courses that these two players have played may not be the same, the HI for two golfers who currently have the same handicap could be different as demonstrated below.


Player A is a female and has a current handicap of 18 and all of the last 20 rounds were played at her home club, where the WGSA rating is 72 but the USGA CR is 74.2 and the SR is 145. Her HI will be 12.6

Player B is a female and has a current handicap of 18 and all the last 20 rounds were played at her home club where the WGSA rating is 71 but the USGA CR is 72.2 and the SR is 139. Her HI will be 13.9.

When an overseas visitor plays at our club, what Course Handicap will they use?

If the golfer is from a country where the USGA Course Rating System has been implemented, they will carry a Handicap Index (HI) certificate from their home club. These golfers will look up their Course Handicap (CH) in the same manner as South African golfers.

If the visitor is from a country where another method of handicapping is used, they should also have a Handicap certificate. It is recommended that the CH the player should use, is their Handicap plus the adjustment to Par.

Example:  A visitor from the CONGU or neighbouring country has a handicap of 12 and wants to play the Blue Course at Club X – the Course Rating 69.8 and the Par of the Course is 72 - the visitor’s CH will be calculated as follows:

CH = Handicap + (CR-Par)  ---   12 + (69.8 – 72) = 9.8 rounded to 10.