Golf Handicap FAQs
Below are some Australian Golf Handicap FAQ - the most frequently asked questions about getting handicaps with SGA. To see the answer, simply click the + button.
Of course, we are always available to answer any other questions you may have. Simply contact us, and a real-live person will answer your question straight away!
Applying for an SGA Handicap
$98 for 12 months (or $68 for juniors under 18). This includes covering the cost of golf insurance as part of the Golf Australia affiliation fees. Handicaps with The SGA Golf Club are not pro-rata, so the golfer has a valid, active handicap for 12 months from the date of handicap activation.
You will get your new GA Handicap and GOLF Link number within 24 hours (in most cases). In some busy periods when we have events, it may take three business days from when you complete all the requirements for a handicap. However, we aim to complete activations within one working day when possible and we can try to accelerate activations upon application if the matter is urgent.
12 months from the date of activation, with the option to renew annually.
There are three steps required for a first-time handicap to be activated – application, payment & 54 holes of scorecards.
Our standard process is to wait until all three steps are completed before activating the golfer’s entity on GOLF Link. Some people want their GOLF Link number before they have submitted cards – in these cases, the handicap will come up as ‘Unallocated’ on GOLF Link until 54 holes of scores are entered on your playing history.
However, if you want your GOLF Link number before you've submitted your scorecards, just let us know and we can activate your GOLF Link number straight away.
Yes. As a member of The SGA Golf Club you have your own golf-specific personal insurance program (PIP) which includes public liability cover. For more information regarding this program and to view the full PIP disclosure statement, go to the Golf Australia Insurance page on the Golf Australia website.
Yes, golfers under 18 can access an official Australian golf handicap through The SGA Golf Club for $68.
About Golf Australia Handicaps
An official golf handicap is a numerical figure assigned to a golfer that reflects their ability or relative ability, and allows golfers to compete on an equal footing with others. The lower the handicap, the better the player is relative to those with higher handicaps.
GOLF Link handicaps allow golfers of all abilities to be able to compete against one another. They are calculated and allotted in accordance with the Australian Handicapping, Slope Rating and Course Rating Systems as specified by Golf Australia, the peak national amateur governing body. The maximum playing handicap permitted in Australia is 36 for men and 45 for women.
Handicaps are calculated in accordance with the World Handicapping System. They are based on scores of each golfer provided for initial handicap calculation, and then scores in competition play thereafter. You can read more on the Golf Australia website: how Australian Handicaps are calculated. In simple terms, official GA Handicaps are calculated as follows:
- Take the best 8 differentials from the most recent 20 scores
- Divide that number by 8
- Multiply that number by 0.93
- If a golfer has less than 20 scores, the number of scores used is less
A GA Handicap is the Golf Australia Handicap that is assigned to a golfer. This handicap is then referenced against The Slope Rating of a set of tees on a golf course to calculate the Daily Handicap that a golfer plays from in a competition.
GOLF Link is Golf Australia’s computerised handicapping network. It is the centralised national handicapping system that manages all of Australia's official golf handicaps. Golf clubs create and process competitions and the system sends competition scores to the central server for handicap calculation. All data on the system is submitted by the clubs for Golf Link to process.
Once a competition is closed and processed, the GOLF Link system automatically updates (and adjusts where necessary) the handicaps of the golfers in the competition.
Your club will have a record of your GOLF Link number, if you cannot contact your club, contact GOLF Link help at firstname.lastname@example.org
GOLF Link cards are issued by directly by GOLF Link cards. Lost or stolen GOLF Link cards can replaced by GOLF Link. Replacement GOLF Link cards must now be ordered through the GOLF Link website, please click here for further information.
Submitting cards for an official golf handicap
- Your name & signature
- Score for each hole
- Date of the game
- A marker's signature
- Name of the course
- Which tees you played from (i.e. Blue, White, Red, etc)
- Scratch Rating or DSR
When marking your score, there are various scoring formats played in Australia. Here are the most common, and how they work.
Stroke - The stroke score of each hole is entered on the score card. Your gross score is totalled and your handicap is deducted to calculate the nett score. The player who completes the round with the least nett strokes is the winner.
Stableford - The stroke index on the scorecard determines the calculated par on the hole and how many shots a player receives on the hole depending on their handicap.
Players who exceed their calculated par by two strokes (i.e. nett double-bogey) receive no points and wipe the hole.
One stroke over the calculated par (i.e. nett bogey) receives one point.
If you make a calculated par, (i.e. nett par) you score two points.
A score of one stroke better than your calculated par (i.e. nett birdie) is three points.
A score two strokes better than your calculated par (i.e. nett eagle) is four points (and so on).
Scores are totalled and the player with the best (highest) stableford score is the winner.
Example: Let's say a player has a GolfLink Handicap of 5. He or she will thus get a shot on the 5 hardest holes as noted by the course scorecard (every course has all 18 holes "indexed" from 1 (hardest) to 18 (easiest).).
The player approaches the first hole of the day (let's say it is a par-4), and sees that it has an index of 3 (i.e. the third-hardest hole on the course). He or she thus gets a stroke on the hole. Let's say this player takes 5 shots on the hole. In stroke golf, this would be a bogey. However, in Stableford, since the player gets a stroke on the hole, their "nett" score is 4 (i.e. 5 shots minus the handicap stroke). Therefore, they have made a "nett par" and get two points.
On the scorecard, the player marks "5" for score (i.e. actual strokes), and marks 2 in the points column.
If, on that same hole, the player had taken 6 shots, then they would mark 6 for score, and 1 in points. However, If they had taken 4 shots, they would mark 4 for score, and 3 for points.
Par - The stroke index on the scorecard determines the calculated par on the hole and how many shots a player receives on the hole depending on their handicap. A hole is either won, lost or halved depending on your your stroke score against the calculated par.
Scoring a calculated par means you halve the hole and a zero or a small square is recorded on the card. If you score better than your calculated par, you win the hole and a plus (+) is recorded as the result. Alternately, if you score worse than your calculated par, you lose the hole and a minus (-) is recorded as the result. The scores are totalled and the player with the highest plus (+) score is the winner.
On the scorecard, the player marks the total number of strokes, and then either a +, a 0, or a - in the points/result column.
Yes, a minimum of 54 holes are required for the initial handicap calculation and this can be made up of a combination of 9 and 18 hole cards.
The signatures on the cards attest that the score is true and correct and that the round was played to the rules of golf. Cards need to be signed by someone involved in Australian golf... so a club pro, a club member, a golfer with an official Australian handicap, etc.
Other options include a member of golf club even if they don’t have a handicap. You could ask the pro at your local course to sign the cards if you have somewhere you play regularly. Or, if you play with strangers (who qualify) at your local course, you can ask if they will sign your card for the purpose of initial handicap calculation.
The SGA 18-hole events we run every few weeks in all the mainland Australian capital cities are handy for this – if you play in these events, these cards can be used for handicap calculation. Most of the social players (golfers without a handicap) in the SGA events are people in the process of submitting cards for initial handicap calculation.
It depends how long ago your last handicap was active.
If you've held a handicap previously, we'll make you a Home Club Member with The SGA Golf Club using your previous GOLF Link number. You will then retain all your previous playing history on GOLF Link. If your last handicap had been active recently (within 12 months), then you will not need to submit scorecards.
However, if you are getting a handicap for the first time or your handicap has been inactive for more than 12 months, SGA requires that you submit three or more signed scorecards.
No. GOLF Link numbers are specific to each club. The first five digits are the club ID number and the second five digits are the member number at that club.
When you join The SGA Golf Club we will send you a new GOLF Link number but you will retain all your previous playing history on GOLF Link.
Yes. The handicapping rules require that you inform a new club if you have ever held an official handicap at another club. When you join a new club and you wish it to be your Home Club where you maintain your handicap, you are required to submit your most recent GOLF Link number.
No, handicap adjustments are made from scores in official competition rounds. Non-competition rounds are social rounds that do not count towards your handicap.
Social rounds can be submitted for handicapping purposes, and these are called Conforming Social Scores (CSS). Golf Australia has left it to each golf club to form their own policy on accepting CSS that are submitted to the club handicapper.
When a golfer submits a CSS, it must be in stableford points and CSS should not be submitted that will increase a player’s handicap. If a golfer plays a social round and breaks their handicap, they may wish to apply to their handicapper to submit the score for handicapping purposes.
The SGA Golf Club policy is that if a golfer has fewer than 20 live scores (from competition rounds) on their playing history, or plays a social round that will potentially reduce their handicap, we will consider accepting a CSS. When submitting a CSS, the details required are:
- Date of the round
- Golf course name
- Course Par
- Which tees played from (blue, white, etc)
- Scratch rating for the tees played from
- Slope Rating for the tees played from
- The GA Handicap on the day
- Daily Handicap played from on the day
- Stableford points calculated from Daily Handicap
FYI, our SGA Open Events results are entered on GOLF Link to count towards player’s handicaps. SGA golf events operated by Social Golf Australia are official competitions held every few weeks in all the mainland Australian capital cities.
Yes. To enter a competition, all you need is your GOLF Link number.
The day we activate your handicap, we will email you your new GOLF link number. When you play in a competition, simply tell the club your GOLF Link number, and they will be able to verify your handicap with that. After playing in a club competition, the club will enter your score on GOLF Link and the system will update your handicap automatically.
Each golf club has nominated competition days, and you may be welcome to enter as a guest depending on the club's policy on accepting guests into their competitions. However, you will need to ask the golf club if their competition days are open to guests generally and to SGA Golf Club Members specifically. (See note here about some clubs in NSW and SGA)
To provide our Members with options for competition play, we've established regular 18-hole events as well as annual Major Events in each of the mainland capital cities. These are official competitions with results on GOLF Link held every few weeks at a range of great golf courses and clubs around Australia. For more information, see the links on the Play Golf page
Many people are surprised with how low their initial GA Handicap is. There are a few reasons for this:
- The system is calibrated for the handicap to sit at the low end of what a golfer is capable of - it is intended that a player only plays to or beats their handicap when they play well.
- Many golfers without an official handicap believe the handicap represents the scoring average. However, this is not the case. Statistically, an Australian golfer plays better than their handicap only once in every eight rounds.
- Initial handicap calculations are made from the adjusted hole scores from the best of the three submitted rounds, with reference to the Scratch Rating of the course and multiplied by .93.
- A GA Handicap is referenced to the Slope Rating of a Course to generate the Daily Handicap that a golfer plays from in a competition. The formula is GA H/cap x Slope Rating / 113. Therefore, on a course with a slope rating of 130, a player with a GA Handicap of 15.8 will play from a Daily Handicap of 18.
It is a very complicated system. However, there are plenty of resources available if you are interested in learn more about it. Visit Golf Australia for more.
When playing in a club competition, present your GOLF Link card or number for registration in the competition. The visited club should enter your score into Golf Link through their system. Therefore, there is no need to send your card back to your home club. However, if the visited club is not yet on GOLF Link, they should send your card to your home club.
Contact the club that ran the competition. Corrections or amendments to any errors to competition scores can only be made by the club that created and processed the competition.
The GOLF Link number you have entered was rejected because:
- Your club has advised GOLF Link that your Membership Status is 'Invalid'. Therefore, If this is not correct, you should contact your Home Club to arrange for them to amend your details on GOLF Link. OR...
- If you have transferred your Home Club recently, you may have been allocated a new GOLF Link number. Your new Home Club can advise you of your new number, OR
- The number you have entered does not exist on the GOLF Link database. Please check that the number is the one that appears on your GOLF Link card.
No Score – Approved is used as a Score Status if you have not returned a Score Card and this has been approved by the club. The status of Approved is decided by a club official upon understanding the circumstances that lead to the round being incomplete. Acceptable reasons include illness, bad weather or emergency. There is no adjustment to the handicap.
This is used as a Score Status if a player fails to complete a round or submit a score for handicapping purposes without reasonable justification.