The fundamental responsibilities for handicaps on golf scorecards is changing. Learn more about the handicap for golf scorecard 2023 changes.

Handicaps On Golf Scorecards

Your scorecard, your responsibility. That’s how the Rules of Golf viewed the requirement to input your handicap on that bit of paper.

But with the arrival and changes to the 2023 Rules of Golf in January, there’s going to be a significant change to what’s expected of players in that regard. So let’s get stuck in and see what’s coming…

What did the old rule say about handicaps on scorecards?

Rule 3.3b (4) said that in handicap competitions, a player was responsible for making sure “that his or her handicap is shown on the scorecard”. If a player presented a card with no handicap shown on it, or a handicap that was too high, they were disqualified if this affected the number of strokes the player received.

If the handicap on the scorecard was too low, there was no penalty but the player’s net score stood using the lower handicap.

What does the new rule say about handicaps on scorecards?

Rule 3.3b (4) now says a player is no longer required to show their handicap on their scorecard or to add up their own scores.

It is the committee’s responsibility to calculate the player’s handicap strokes for the competition and to use that handicap to calculate the player’s net score.

It says: “If the player returns a scorecard on which they have made a mistake in showing or applying a handicap, or on which they have made a mistake in adding up the scores, there is no penalty.”

A committee, though, can employ a new Local Rule – Model Local Rule L-2 – which puts the responsibility back on the player.

Handicaps On Golf Scorecards

What is the R&A’s view on the change?

Grant Moir, R&A director of rules, says: “It’s [about] simplification and part of the analysis of the necessity for certain penalties – particularly with this one potentially bringing in a very severe penalty of disqualification.

“Pretty much all our scores nowadays go through some kind of digital process where that machine tells you what your handicap is, and your principal responsibility is simply to enter in the correct scores for each hole and it will reveal your result and the results of everybody playing in that competition.

“So to have a situation where we put in the right scores for each hole, and the results sheet is accurate, but because you might have put the wrong number down on a bit of paper, you’re then disqualified or playing under a handicap that’s lower than that to which you are entitled just didn’t seem to make sense in terms of the way we play the modern game.

“It seemed to us like such a good opportunity to remove a penalty and have the Rules just better reflect the way the practice has become.”

NCG verdict

An eminently sensible change which leaves players only concerned with ensuring their gross scores are correct and that their scorecard is signed by themselves and a marker.

The test of this rule, though, will be with how committees enforce it. Some have ignored previous requirements and exceeded their powers to disqualify players who failed to include details such as dates and net totals. Rule 3.3b sets clear requirements of what is expected from golfers and what’s expected from committees. Let’s hope both sides stick to them.

What do you think about the new rule on handicaps on scorecards? Let me know with a tweet.

More on the 2023 Rules of Golf update

We’ve painstakingly been through every update to make sure you have everything you need to know about the biggest changes, from penalties in Stableford, handicaps on scorecards, back-on-the-line relief, and much, much more.

Rules of Golf podcast

Steve Carroll and Tom Irwin sat down to discuss the 2023 updates on the From the Clubhouse podcast.

Listen in the player below, or on your preferred podcast platform.

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 23 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former captain and committee member, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the national Tournament Administrators and Referee's Seminar. He has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying and the PGA Fourball Championship. A member of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap.

Handicap: 10.9

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