FAQ for Golfers

The current Handicap will be re-calculated and will become your Handicap Index®.

This will probably be lower than your current Handicap because the Course Rating™ is most likely higher than what it was before the USGA Course Rating System was done and the relative difficulty, i.e. Slope Rating™, of the course you have played, is taken into account when the Handicap Index® is calculated.

However the calculation of the Course Handicap™ will take the same factors into account and the Course Handicap™ should be very close to your current Handicap.

Players will have a Handicap Index® that is calculated from 96% of the best 10 of the last 20 rounds (the same way it is calculated now). However, you will not play off this number.

Each time you play you must get your Course Handicap™ from the Terminal, App or the Chart which will be at the Golf Course you are playing. This is a calculation using your Handicap Index®, the Course Rating™ and the Slope Rating™ of the Course (White, Blue or Red Tee) you choose to play on that day.

Once you've decided which Tee (White, Blue or Red) you want to play off, key this into the Terminal or Mobile App and you will get your Course Handicap™. If neither is available, use the Course Handicap Conversion Chart at the Club.

The Handicap Index® is an indication of your potential as a golfer. The Course Handicap™ is the handicap you will use when playing from a selected Tee (colour course) at a particular club – calculated taking the difficulty of the course into consideration.

Once you have selected which course (Tee) you are going to play, the Course Handicap™ is obtained from the Mobile App, the HNA system (website or terminal) or, where neither is available, from Course Handicap™ Conversion Tables at the club.

Definitely – this is one of the reasons why the system is being introduced.

There are no Men’s, Senior’s or Womens’ Tees anymore.

We will be referring to the various courses by the colour of the Tee. All the Tees have been rated for Men, while only certain Tees have been rated for Women.

If the Women at the club feel that they want more options they can request this from GolfRSA.

When the Course Handicap™ is calculated it takes into account the Course Rating™ that has been calculated to one decimal point and your Handicap Index® is to a decimal point.

Before playing you must round the decimal in your Course Handicap™ up or down to a whole number, i.e. 18.2 becomes 18, 18.5 becomes 19 and 18.7 also becomes 19.

Generally speaking, a higher handicapper finds it more difficult to adjust to a difficult course than a lower handicapper. The slope adjustment balances this out.

For example, if the White Tees are harder than the Blue Tees, a high-handicapper may play the White Tees off a handicap of 28 and the Blue Tees off 24. (He gets four more shots for the harder course.) The low handicap player finds it easier to adjust, so they may play the White Tees off 4 and the Blue Tees off 3. (He only gets one shot more for the harder course.)

Decide which Tee you want to play from, or ascertain which is specified for the day’s competition.

Enter this choice on the Mobile App, the HNA system or the Course Handicap™ Conversion Tables at the club. Any of these will give you your Course Handicap™.

Yes, the calculation of your Course Handicap™ takes into account the fact that the Course Rating™ and Slope Rating™ of the Tee you are playing from is lower/higher than the one the rest of the field is playing from, therefore you can play in the same Stroke Play competition.

(Unless the Conditions of Competition prohibit this.)

Every set of Tees will have a Course Rating™ to one decimal point. Every set of Tees on every golf course will also have a Slope Rating™ determined in accordance with the new Slope Rating™ System.

The Course Ratings™ and Slope Ratings™ are different for men and women.

The maximum Slope Rating™ is 155 and the minimum is 55 – the Neutral Rating is 113.

Slope makes no difference to the player who plays from the same tees at the same course, week after week – and this is the typical experience of most club golfers. However, Slope provides a much fairer handicap for golfers who play on courses (or sets of tees) with varying degrees of difficulty.

The basic premise that underpins the Slope regulation is that the gross scores returned by a group of players of different abilities will become more and more spread out as the difficulty of a course increases. 

This is because players of lesser ability find it much harder than good players to adjust to the challenge of a difficult course. This also means that the gross scores of the same group of players will become closer together as a course becomes easier. So the differences between the Course Handicaps™ of players of differing levels of ability need to expand as the course becomes harder. And they need to contract as the course becomes easier.

Slope is all about achieving an appropriate difference between the Course Handicaps™ of players of different levels of ability. Note that a common misunderstanding is that people think that Slope decreases handicaps on easy courses and that it increases them on hard courses. This isn’t quite what Slope is doing. 

To compensate for the pattern of gross score distribution, what Slope does is spread out handicaps on a more difficult course (i.e. Plus handicaps move further away from Scratch, and normal handicaps also move further from Scratch), and it brings them all closer together on an easy course (i.e. Plus handicaps get closer to Scratch and normal handicaps also get closer to Scratch).

Remember that on a high Slope Rated™ course, the difference needs to increase between the Course Handicaps™ of players of different levels of ability. (And the higher the Slope Rating™, the greater the difference needs to be.) For example, as Slope Ratings™ increase, the difference between the Course Handicap™ of a player with a Handicap Index® of 0.0, and the Course Handicap™ of a player with a Handicap Index® of 23.6, will continue to increase.

For example the calculation of a player of Handicap Index® 0 on a course with a Course Rating™ of 74.2 and a Slope Rating™ of 140 – Par 72 will be as follows:

Scratch Player (HI = 0)                                          Higher Handicap (HI = 23.3)

HI * Slope/113 + (CR – Par)                                     HI * Slope/113 + (CR – Par)

0 * 140/113 + (74.2 – 72)                                        23.3* 140/113 + (74.2 – 72)

= 0 + 2.2 = Course Handicap for this player is 2                 28.8 + 2.2 = 31

                        (2.2 rounded down)

If the course had a Course Rating™ of 68 and a par of 72 then using the same calculation one would get to:

HI * Slope/113 + (CR – Par)                                     HI * Slope/113 + (CR – Par)

0 + (68 – 72)                                                              28.8 + (-4)

= + 4. Course Handicap for this player +4               24.8 = Course Handicap 25

But, the player on a Handicap Index® of 0.0 is not as good as the player with Handicap Index® of +6.0.

So as the Slope Rating™ of the course increases, the player on a Handicap Index® of 0.0 needs more strokes on the player with a Handicap Index® of +6.0.  And if the 0.0 player’s Course Handicap™ is 0, it means the only way for them to get more shots on the +6.0 player is for the player on +6.0 to have their Course Handicap™ go even lower. The key point for the Plus marker is not that a high Slope Rated™ course is easier for them, it is that unless their handicap goes lower, they will gain an advantage on every other player in the field.

There are no longer Men’s, Senior’s or Womens’ Tees. We will be referring to the various courses by the colour of the Tee. All scorecards must indicate these. Scorecards must also indicate the Stroke Index, the Par and the Course Rating™ and Slope Ratings™. 

Of the major golfing countries, only the CONGU (England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales) have not implemented the USGA CRS as yet. Also, none of the countries in Africa (outside South Africa) have rated their courses.

Please note that none of the courses in South Africa’s neighbouring countries, i.e. Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland or Zimbabwe, have been rated using the USGA CRS, and are, therefore, still using the old method for handicap calculations.

A golfer will use their Handicap Index® (HI) as reflected on the HNA website and the Slope Rating™ (SR) for the colour course they mostly play at their home club to determine the CH which they will use in these countries. The calculation for the CH to be used will not include the adjustment to Par and should be calculated as follows. CH = HI*SR/113


The player mostly play the Blue course at their home club and the SR for the blue course is 132.

The player’s HI® is 12.3

The CH™ that the player will use is:

CH™ = 12.3*132/113 = 14.3 rounded to 14

Some clubs in these countries may display a CHCT™ which can then be used. Golfers can also look up the CR™ and SR™ for courses in Scotland on http://www.popeofslope.com/scotland/courseratings.html and do their own calculations by using the CH™ calculator on their HNA phone App.

Golfers should consider each situation and select the colour course which will give them the most enjoyment when playing the round. It is important to look at the Course Rating™ (CR) and Slope Ratings™ (SR) of the courses. The higher the numbers the more difficult the course is.

If male golfers play with a novice, it is suggested that the shorter courses should be chosen i.e. Blue or Red Course. When mixed genders are playing together, select a course which is rated for both genders i.e. normally the Blue and Red courses. If parents play with their young children and want a family day, consider playing the Red Course.

The maximum HI® for both men and women is 36.

There is no maximum CH stipulated currently.  The CH is a calculated number using a combination of the Handicap Index® (HI) of the golfer, the Par, Course Rating™ (CR) and Slope Ratings™ (SR) of the course.

The golfer can take 4 shots over on a hole.


If the golfer’s CH™ is 40 he/she can take 4 shots over on holes stroked 1 to 4.

The stableford points would be as follows for the golfer:

On a par 4, stroke 3 – the golfer will get 5 points if he/she holes out for 4, 4 points for 5 shots, 3 points for 6 shots, 2 points for 7 shots and 1 point if he/she holes out for 8.

The Afrikaans terms are as follows :

Course Rating™ (CR)           Baangradering (BG)

Slope Rating™ (SR)              Moeilikheidsgradering (MG)

Handicap Index® (HI)        Voorgee Indeks (VI)

Course Handicap™ (CH)    Baanvoorgee (BV)

Scratch golfer                    Syfer gholfer

Bogey golfer                       Voorgee gholfer