Handicapping System


The ladies handicapping system is based on your current performance and operates in much the same way as the men’s handicap system.


A handicap is made up of two elements – an Exact Handicap correct to 1 decimal place, and a Playing Handicap, which is the exact handicap rounded up to the nearest whole number.  Each handicap category has a Buffer Zone.  These zones are used to calculate the degree by which a player’s handicap can change.


Example: (Exact Handicap)


  • Player ‘A’ has a handicap between 21 - 29. 

  • The buffer zone for this category is 0 - +4. 

  • If player ‘A’ returns a card and their net score is within the buffer zone there is no change to their handicap. 

  • A NET score is in a buffer zone when the difference between the net score and the Standard Scratch Score (SSS) or Competition Standard Scratch (CSS) is within the band for that handicap category. 

  • If Player ‘A’ returns a card below the CSS or SSS, their exact handicap will be reduced by the factor for their handicap category for each stroke below the Scratch Score.  In this case 0.4 per stroke.

  • If Player ‘A’ returned their card with a net score in a qualifying competition that is above their buffer zone, their exact handicap will be increased by 0.1.

  • Players who fail to return cards in qualifying competitions will have their exact handicaps increased by 0.1.


How do I get my first handicap?


  • To gain a handicap 3 cards must be submitted within 6 months as recommended by CONGU, marked by a responsible person. 

  • These cards should preferably be marked in two balls.



Playing Handicap


  • You are responsible for your own handicap and MUST play to what you know it is even if it is not yet confirmed. 

  • If in doubt, play to the lower figure. 

  • You cannot be penalised for this but you will be disqualified if you play off a higher handicap than you actually have. 

  • Handicap increases may only be made by a player’s Home Club after scores have been duly reported and published.

  • It is a CONGU rule that all qualifying and competition scratch scores must be returned to the Handicap Secretary if it affects your handicap when playing both home and away.


Competition Handicaps


  • England Golf recognises that the annotation of ‘i’ (inactive) has proved to be unpopular, however, many clubs and organisations seek to encourage golfers to play a sufficient number of qualifying competitions to ensure that they hold an accurate handicap. For that reason, England Golf will join with the Scottish and Welsh Unions in using the ‘c’ annotation to denote a competition handicap and the ‘i’ annotation will no longer appear.

  • It should be stressed that every affiliated member who has been allocated a CONGU handicap retains a valid handicap, whether denoted as a competition handicap or not.

  • Clubs should encourage all members to participate in Qualifying Competitions. A single date for the activation of the ‘c’ handicap in each year has been agreed by England Scotland and Wales. This will be the 1st March.

  • England Golf directs that the handicap of any player, in whatever Category, who returns a minimum of 3 Qualifying Scores in a year from the 1st March shall be marked as a ‘c’ (Competition Handicap)


Supplementary Scores


In submitting Supplementary Scores, players need to ensure that they are not in breach of Rule 7 of the R&A Rules of Golf (Practice). A Club Committee may apply the Note to Rule 7-1 and allow a Supplementary Score to be returned following the playing of a stroke play round earlier in the day.


A player in Category 1 with a Non-Competition handicap on the 1st March may return up to a maximum of three Supplementary Scores to regain a Competition handicap.


A player in Category 1 with a Competition handicap on the 1st March may only return up to a maximum of three Supplementary Scores during the 6 month period from the 1st September in order to retain a Competition handicap.


A player in Category 2 who has returned Supplementary Scores in accordance with Clause 21 prior to attaining a Category 1 handicap will only be permitted to return additional Supplementary Scores in order to retain a Competition handicap.


Ladies may submit a card as a Supplementary Score in order to gain/maintain their competition handicap. In order to do this she should:


  1. Sign the Supplementary Score Sheet PRIOR to commencement of play and pay the appropriate fee PRIOR to commencement of play.  (Money to be put into an envelope clearly labelled with your name and date and put in the “Women’s Golf” Competition Box)

  2. Post the signed scorecard into the “Women’s Golf” Competition Box.


  • A Supplementary Score may only be returned at the Home Club of the player.

  • All players (except 1 players) can submit an unlimited number of supplementary scores in a year.

  • The Supplementary Score will be entered in the Player Handicap Record.

  • If a player has registered for a Supplementary Score and does not return a card then an increase in handicap of 0.1 will be applied.