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Ladies Golf Union Handicapping System 1998 to 2003
These notes relate to the Ladies Handicapping System, introduced in February 1998 and amended February 1999, 2000 and 2001. This was known as 'The Ladies Golf Union Handicapping System Fourth Edition'. This Handicapping System was discontinued at the end of January 2004 and is no longer used.We continue to provide these details for historical interest only.
Note: The Official Web Site of the Ladies Golf Union is www.lgu.org .
The LGU made a change to the LGU Handicapping system in 2003.
- What is a Handicap in Golf?
- Is Handicapping the same for Ladies and Men?
- Who organises the Ladies Handicap System?
- I am a member of two clubs. Can I have two Handicaps?
- How will I be allocated a handicap by my Club?
- What is the "Scratch Score" of a course?
- What will cause my Handicap to change?
- When do Playing Handicaps change?
- Can I lose my Handicap?
- How do handicaps change after a 'Handicap Qualifying' Competition?
- What is an Extra Day Score?
- How is a Nett Differential calculated if the competition is played as Stableford format?
- I have returned a score outside buffer zone but my handicap has not changed. How is this possible?
- What is a 'General Play' adjustment?
- Are there limits on adjustments made under 'General Play'?
- What factors should a Handicap Committee consider when making an application for change under 'General Play'?
- Can a player request a change under General Play?
- What is an Annual Review?
Details of the Third Edition (including redundant features such as Accumulated Nett Differentials) can be found here!
Section 1 - Introduction
What is a Handicap in Golf?
A handicap is a measure of standard of golf that typically represents the number of strokes per round a player takes more than that which a "scratch" (zero handicapped) golfer is considered likely to score. For Ladies, the maximum is 45.
Is Handicapping the same for Ladies and Men?
No. There are two systems. These have some similarities, but also differ significantly in some areas.
Who organises the Ladies Handicap System?
The Ladies Golf Union has created "The LGU Handicapping System". The address of the Ladies Golf Union is
The Ladies Golf Union,
I am a member of two clubs. Can I have two Handicaps?
No. You must allocate one of your clubs as your HOME CLUB. This club will then administer your handicap. You are required to report competition scores (from Handicap Qualifying Competitions) played at the second club to your Home Club.
How will I be allocated a handicap by my Club?
Your club will ask you to submit three (or more) cards for consideration. The card with the lowest total is then used to allocate a handicap. Your handicap will be the difference between this total and the "Scratch Score" of the course.
You will be given an "Exact Handicap" which is to one decimal place (e.g. 22.4). Your "Playing Handicap" (Handicap which will be used for competitions, etc.) is your Exact Handicap rounded to the nearest whole number (e.g. 22.4 = 22 Playing Handicap). Exact Handicaps ending in 0.5 are rounded up (e.g. 22.5 = 23 Playing Handicap).
What is the "Scratch Score" of a course?
This is a score which a "scratch" (zero handicapped) player is considered to be expected to score around any particular golf course. It is usually identified on the scorecard as the LGU SS of the course.
A Scratch Score assessment is made by a 'Scratch Score Assessor' appointed by a National Organisation. The Scratch Score is based upon the length of the course. A Course Rating is calculated as a sum of values based on the length of each hole. This total is then adjusted based on the typical amount of run a ball will take after a drive of carry 180 yards and further adjusted after an assessment of course 'value' (proximity of hazards, general layout, etc).
What will cause my Handicap to change?
Handicaps change for one of the following reasons:
- You will have returned a score in a 'handicap qualifying' competition. This is a competition which has been identified (in advance) where handicaps will be adjusted, or
- Reported a competition score from another club, or
- Returned an 'Extra Day Score', or
- Increased as a result of an Annual Review, or
- Your Lady Handicap Secretray has made a manual adjustment under 'General Play'.
When do Playing Handicaps change?
If you return a competition score (or Extra Day Score) which results in a lower Exact Handicap, your Playing Handicap will be revised immediately.
Also, your Playing Handicap will be reassessed on the 8th of each month to adjust it in line with the Exact Handicap as it was on the last day of the previous month. If your Exact Handicap has increased to a level which requires a revised Playing Handicap, it is only on the 8th of the month that your Playing Handicap will increase (General Play changes excepted).
Can I lose my Handicap?
With effect from February 2002, any Lady who has not returned at least three Handicap Qualifying Scores (inc. Extra Day Scores) in the proceeding 'LGU Year' (February 1st to January 31st) will have her handicap lapsed. This handicap is no longer valid for competitions.
She will be required to return new 'handicap scores' (cards for handicap) in order to re-establish her handicap. The number of handicap scores required will be however many as to bring the total of the cards she returned last year, plus the handicap scores, to three.
Section 2 - Handicap changes after a competition
How do handicaps change after a 'handicap qualifying' competition?
The Competition Committee will perform the following calculations:
a) Determine a 'Competition Scratch Score'. An assessment is made of the scores returned by Category 1, 2, 3 and 4 players and, depending upon the number of players returning 'good scores'. From this a Competition Scratch Score is calculated (and is based on the Scratch Score of the course, with adjustment either down by one stroke or up to 3 strokes higher).
The calculations used to determine the Competition Scratch Score are the same as those applied under the men's CONGU system, except that Category 4 players are included along with Category 3.
b) Calculate a 'nett differential' for each player. This is the difference between the players' nett score (score less current handicap) and the Scratch Score for the course,
c) Use each players' nett differential to adjust their Exact Handicap according to the following formula:
|Handicap of player||Buffer Zone||Nett Differentials below zero||Nett Differentials above buffer zone|
Handicaps up to 5
|0 to +1||Handicap reduced by 0.1 for each stroke Nett Differential is below zero||Handicap increased by 0.1|
Handicaps 6 to 12
|0 to +2||Handicap reduced by 0.2 for each stroke Nett Differential is below zero||Handicap increased by 0.1|
Handicaps 13 to 20
|0 to +3||Handicap reduced by 0.3 for each stroke Nett Differential is below zero||Handicap increased by 0.1|
Handicaps 21 to 28
|0 to +4||Handicap reduced by 0.4 for each stroke Nett Differential is below zero||Handicap increased by 0.1|
|Category 5:Handicaps 29 to 40||0 to +5||Handicap reduced by 0.5 for each stroke Nett Differential is below zero||Handicap increased by 0.1|
|Category 6:Handicaps 41 to 45||n/a||Handicap reduced by 1.0 for each stroke Nett Differential is below zero||No increase|
Where the Nett Differential is within Buffer Zone, no adjustment to handicap is made.
d) Immediately reduce competitors Playing Handicaps for those competitors who's revised Exact Handicaps require a lower handicap.
What is an Extra Day Score?
Players who hold a Category 6 Handicap may return an unlimited number of scorecards for Handicap consideration, outside of competition play. These cards are called Extra Day Scores (EDS) and is played under Stableford format. The player's Handicap will be recalculated as though the score was returned in a competition.
How is a Nett Differential calculated if the competition is played as Stableford format?
A players' Nett Differential is calculated as (Points scored) - 36 - (Par of Course) + (Scratch Score)
I have returned a score outside buffer zone but my handicap has not changed. How is this possible?
Under some circumstances (when there are too few good scores returned by Category 1 to 4 players) the competition will be identified as " for Reduction Only ". Here, no increases of 0.1 may be applied to any handicaps, where the Nett Differential is above the buffer zone. Reductions in Handicaps for those with Nett Differentials below zero still occur!
Section 3 - Handicap changes under General Play
What is a 'General Play' adjustment?
A General Play change is a manual adjustment of a player's handicap usually made by the Handicap Committee of a Club. These manual adjustments are required to be made when the player's Home Club Handicap Committee "considers that a player's handicap does not reflect her current playing ability".
Handicaps can only be reduced under General Play by a National Organisation, following submission by the Handicap Committee. This is a significant difference to the Men's scheme, where clubs themselves can make General Play changes.
Are there limits on adjustments made under 'General Play'?
There is no minimum or maximum amount a Handicap Committee may change a player's handicap under General Play. However, handicaps cannot be increased above 40.4 under General Play.
What factors should a Handicap Committee consider when making an application for change under 'General Play'?
If the Handicap Committee considers the player's handicap is too high, they should consider
- Performance in Match Play competitions, mixed or team events, and
- Number of returns in Handicap Qualifying competitions (or specifically the lack of them).
It is believed that changes under General Play are unlikely to be accepted if the player has returned scores in Handicap Qualifiers.
If the Handicap Committee considers the player's handicap is too low, they should consider
- Age, Infirmity or Illness, and
- Change in circumstances which may prevent the player from competing regularly in Handicap Qualifying Competitions.
Can a player request a change under General Play?
Yes, if the player believes her handicap does not reflect her current ability, she may apply to her Handicap Committee for a change under General Play.
What is an Annual Review?
An Annual Review is a review of all Handicaps, which is undertaken in the first 7 days of February. Where a lady has returned at least three qualifying scores in the proceeding year and all of her scores have been outside of her Buffer Zone, she receives a one-stroke increase in her handicap. Where a lady has not returned the required number of scores (less than three), her handicap becomes lapsed.
Annual Reviews will be introduced from February 2002.