On 3 September 2018 South Africa will be implementing a new Course and Slope Rating System that will influence your Handicap Calculation. Under this system, your course handicap on any given day will be determined according to the difficulty of the course you choose to play.

GolfRSA believes that this will be fairer than our current handicap, which does not equalise the higher and lower handicaps well on a difficult golf course. It will also bring SA in line with the rest of the world when the World Handicap System is implemented and make our Handicap Index portable from country to country.


extracted from HNA website: https://www.handicaps.co.za/course-ratings-slope/definitions/

Handicap Index (HI)

The Handicap Index is an indication of the potential of the golfer. It will be 96% of the average of the best 10 differentials from the last 20 rounds. (As stipulated in the Handicap Manual).

Course Handicap (CH)

Course Handicap is the calculated handicap the golfer will use on the day, based on the tee they select on a specific course, including adjustment to Par.

Course Handicap Conversion Tables (CHCT)

These are tables displayed at the club to give the Course Handicap for a specific Handicap Index for each of the Tees on the course.

Course Rating (CR)

Course Rating is the evaluation of the playing difficulty of a course for scratch golfers under normal course and weather conditions. It is expressed as the number of strokes taken, to one decimal place (eg. 72.5), and is based on distance and various obstacles to the extent that they affect the scoring difficulty of the scratch golfer.

Slope Rating (SR)

Slope Rating is the measure of the relative difficulty of a set of tees for a higher handicapped golfer when compared to a Scratch golfer. The Slope Rating is expressed as a numerical value where the lowest number is 55 and the highest is 155.


Handicap Differential = (Adjusted Gross Score – CR)  x 113/SR

extracted from HNA website: https://www.handicaps.co.za/course-ratings-slope/general-information/

For a full listing of the New Course Ratings, click here.

Handicap Index vs Course Handicap

In the beginning, the Handicap Index will most likely be lower than the current handicap of a player. This is simply because, in general, the Course Ratings have increased after being rated as per the USGA Course Rating System.

The Course Handicap will be calculated as follows:
Course Handicap = (Handicap Index* Slope Rating/113) + (CR-Par)
The Course Handicap, once calculated, is rounded up (≥0.5) or down (<0.5) to a whole number.

Note: The rounding to determine the handicap to be used on the day is only done after the calculation has been completed.

All these calculations will be done for the player on the Mobile App, the HNA system or will be available on the Course Handicap Conversion Tables at the club.


Each hole is analysed for factors affecting playing difficulty in the areas where various levels of players are likely to land, and the true (effective) playing length of the hole.

The Effective Playing Length of a hole is impacted by 5 factors:

– Roll
– Change in elevation
– Doglegs and layup
– Wind
– Altitude

10 obstacle factors are taken into account:

– Topography
– Fairway Width
– Green Target
– Recoverability and Rough
– Bunkers
– Out of Bounds (OB)/Extreme Rough
– Water Hazards
– Trees
– Green surface
– Psychological or visual impact

Values are attached to the impact of the above factors and, with detailed calculations, a Course Rating and a Slope Rating is determined for each set of Tees on a course (i.e. Blue, White, Red, etc). All the Tees present were measured for men and 2-3 tees were measured for ladies.


How will Slope make things fairer?

Generally speaking, a higher handicapped player (Bogey Golfer) finds it harder to adjust to a difficult course than a low handicapper does. The Slope Rating adjustments will play a balancing role.

For example, if the Yellow Tees are harder than the White Tees, a high handicapped player may play the Yellow Tees off a handicap of 28 and the White Tees off 24. The elite player finds it easier to adjust, so they may play the Yellow Tees off 4 and the White Tees off 3. This is fairer than having the difference between the elite player’s handicap and the high-handicap player always staying the same.

Slope is the great equaliser and most golfers will get extra shots when they play courses that are relatively more difficult for them than for the scratch golfer.

The Slope rating is expressed as a numerical value, where the lowest number is 55 and the highest is 155. The Neutral Slope Rating is 113. The higher the number, the greater the relative difficulty of the course.

For a list of FAQs – visit the HNA website.