What the heck is slope?

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You have all probably heard talk of the Course Slope that is to be introduced to the Golf Australia Handicapping System in January.

What is the course slope?

The slope is intended as a measure of the difference in difficulty of playing a course for a scratch (handicap 0) golfer and a bogie (handicap 18) golfer.

It is calculated by carefully measuring the course and applying statistical factors for how far and how accurately the two standards of player can hit a ball.  It takes into account the type and placement of hazards, the normal run on the course and the difficulty of the greens.  This has now been done for every course in Australia and for every set of tees on each course.

A course of ‘average’ difference in difficulty will have a slope of 113.  A course that is relatively easier for a bogie player will have a slope lower than 113 while a course more difficult for a bogie player will be higher.  The lowest possible value for slope is 55 while the highest possible is 155.  Ivanhoe Blue tees has been rated as having a slope of 103.

What will happen in January?

For a few days in January (20 – 23), the Golf Access system will be off-line while all registered players data will be processed to create a new value to be known as GA Handicap.  This will be the handicap that you would be expected to play to on a course with a slope of 113.  This is what will appear on the GolfLink website after January 23 2014.

The effect of this calculation will vary depending on whether you play in competition on different courses.  For those that only play at Ivanhoe your GA Handicap will be your current Handicap*113/103.  This means that somebody on 19.8 would get a GA Handicap of 21.7.  Somebody on 6.5 would have a GA Handicap of 7.1.

If you play competition on multiple courses, the effect is more difficult to assess as it will depend on the variation in the slopes of the courses that you have played on and your GA handicap could be higher or lower as the case may be.

What handicap do I play off?

If you are one of those that play competition only at Ivanhoe, when you play at Ivanhoe, your Daily Handicap is determined from GA Handicap*103/113 and you end up exactly back where you started from – 19.8/20 and 6.5/7.

However, if you play at another course, the multiplying factor changes.  On a course with a slope of 139, the player with a GA Handicap of 21.7 would have a Daily Handicap of 21.7*139/113 = 26.7 (rounded to 27 – seven strokes more than playing at Ivanhoe) while the GA Handicap of 7.1 would go to 8.7 (9 – two strokes more than at Ivanhoe).

I’m no mathematician, you might say, what about all these calculations.  Don’t worry, you won’t have to do any.  All you will have to know will be your GA Handicap.  There will be a look-up table provided for whichever set of tees you are playing from and by reading across to your GA Handicap (exact eg 21.7) the table will show what your Daily Handicap will be (already rounded as required).

What else is changing?

At the same time there will be a number of other changes introduced.

                Daily Scratch Rating (DSR)

This will be the equivalent of the old CCR but updated to take advantage of computerisation and some fancy statistical analysis that has been done on the vast database of competition information from around Australia.  The DSR will be allowed to vary more than the old CCR and can be up to four more and three less than the ASR for the tees played.

This rating is used only for handicapping purposes and is intended to compensate for changes in the way the course plays with the seasons (more run in summer, less in winter) and also from daily weather events.  It could even be different between morning and afternoon for different competitions.

The DSR will only affect handicapping and will not affect Competition results.

                Stableford Handicapping Adjustment (SHA)

This will be applied to Stroke events and will have the effect of eliminating the odd horrendous hole that we all have from time to time for the purposes of handicapping.

This will require that, after the regulation comes in, although you will have to play out all strokes in a Stroke event, you will also have to score your card as if it were a Stableford event.  A blow out hole gets no stableford points.  When your score is entered for handicapping purposes, it will be the Stableford score that will be entered and this will be converted to equivalent strokes using your Daily Handicap and the DSR.  The stableford score will have no effect on Competition results.

This is not likely to have a huge effect on your ultimate handicap if the horrendous hole(s) occur in a bad round as it is unlikely to ever appear in your handicap calculation (best 8 of 20).  It can have an effect if there are one or two in an otherwise excellent round.  One result of this should be to discourage anybody ‘throwing’ a hole or two to protect/improve their handicap.

                Conforming Social Scores

The system will allow the use of Social rounds provided that the Home Club has chosen to allow Social scores to be used and the player must have nominated before the round starts that it is to count for handicap purposes.

As for all handicap eligible scores, the round must be played and scored according to the Rules of Golf and must be marked by an accompanying player.

                Four-ball Scores

The method used will be very similar to the current method but a Club may choose not to handicap four-ball scores if they believe their circumstances do not support four-ball handicapping

                9 Hole and Incomplete Scores

This allows for 9 hole rounds and incomplete rounds (for whatever reason) to be used for the purpose of establishing an official handicap.

In essence, incomplete scores will not be projected more than1 hole for a 9 hole score or 2 holes for 18.  Nine hole scores will be stored and combined with the next 9 hole score that is submitted, taking into account the relevant course rating for the two nines, for the purposes of handicapping.


The last three points are provided for completeness only, as they are unlikely to affect people playing in our competition, but they might be of interest if you play in other events or wish to have short rounds considered for your official handicap

Hopefully, I have made this clear enough but if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me by phone or e-mail or button-hole me next time you are at the course.