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The Automatic Handicap System for Golf Croquet


The Automatic Handicapping System provides a handicap for every player when they play Golf Croquet under Rule 20 on Handicap Play or Rule 21 on Advantage Play. The player's handicap is used to determine the number of extra strokes that the more able player has to give to the less able player in Handicap (Extra Strokes) Play, and the starting scores in Advantage Play, so that the competition between the two is approximately evenly balanced. The system requires that players record accurately on their Handicap Card the result of every qualifying game - roughly all games of GC singles played under tournament conditions to level, Extra Strokes or Advantage rules. The Handicap Card tracks the player's Index - a running total of points that increases when they win and decreases when they lose.

Ten index points are exchanged in all Handicap or Advantage singles games - the winner's index increases by 10 and the loser's decreases by 10. When a player's index moves through the 'Trigger Point' for the next handicap level (up or down), their handicap is changed. The change is not always immediate and may be held back until the end of a day's play or the end of a short tournament as defined below. The relation between index and handicap is given in Table 1.

Table 1: Handicap Trigger Points
Handicap Trigger Point   Handicap Trigger Point   Handicap Trigger Point

-6

2800

 

2

1800

 

10

1200

-5

2650

 

3

1700

 

11

1150

-4

2500

 

4

1600

 

12

1100

-3

2350

 

5

1500

 

14

1050

-2

2200

 

6

1400

 

16

1000

-1

2100

 

7

1350

 

18

950

0

2000

 

8

1300

 

20

900

1

1900

 

9

1250

     

When a trigger point is reached at the end of a day then the handicap will change. A player's handicap changes when they reach a trigger point for a handicap that is different from the handicap they currently have. For example, if your handicap is 7, the trigger point to move to 6 is 1400. The trigger point to move to 8 is 1300.

If a player reaches a trigger point and their handicap changes, it cannot immediately change back again as a result of the next couple of games. For example, if a 7-handicap player with an index of 1390 wins 10 points from a handicap game, their index becomes 1400, the trigger point for 6. Once the handicap has changed, that player would then have to lose a nett 5 games (i.e. 50 points) for their index to drop down to 1350 before they again reach the trigger point for 7, and so became handicap 7 again.

Although a 'handicap' is not used when playing level games, full records of all level games are also kept as they improve the accuracy of the player's handicap for when they do venture into handicap play. The points exchanged by players after a level game are calculated on a sliding scale as shown in Table 2. The points the better player can win are significantly reduced; alternatively, should the weaker player win, they gain significantly more than 10 points.

Table 2: Points Exchanged in Level Play
Loser's Handicap

W
i
n
n
e
r'
s

H
a
n
d
i
c
a
p

  -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 14 16 18 20
-6

10

7

4

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-5

13

10

7

4

2

                                 

 

-4

16

13

10

7

4

3

2

 

                           

 

-3

18

16

13

10

7

5

3

2

                           

 

-2

 

18

16

13

10

8

6

4

3

2

              1      

 

-1

 

 

17

15

12

10

8

6

4

3

2

                     

 

0

 

 

18

17

14

12

10

8

6

4

3

2

                   

 

1

 

 

 

18

16

14

12

10

8

6

4

3

2

                 

 

2

 

     

17

16

14

12

10

8

6

4

3

2

2

             

 

3

 

     

18

17

16

14

12

10

8

6

4

3

3

2

2

         

 

4

 

     

 

18

17

16

14

12

10

8

6

5

4

3

3

2

2

     

 

5

 

         

18

17

16

14

12

10

8

7

6

5

4

3

3

2

2

 

 

6

 

         

 

18

17

16

14

12

10

9

8

7

6

5

4

3

3

2

2

7

 

             

18

17

15

13

11

10

9

8

7

6

5

4

3

3

2

8

 

             

18

17

16

14

12

11

10

9

8

7

6

5

4

3

3

9

 

               

18

17

15

13

12

11

10

9

8

7

6

5

4

3

10

 

    19        

18

17

16

14

13

12

11

10

9

8

7

6

5

4

11

 

               

 

18

17

15

14

13

12

11

10

9

8

7

6

5

12

 

                 

18

17

16

15

14

13

12

11

10

9

8

7

6

14

 

                 

 

18

17

16

15

14

13

12

11

10

9

8

7

16

 

                   

18

17

17

16

15

14

13

12

11

10

9

8

18

 

                   

 

18

17

17

16

15

14

13

12

11

10

9

20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18

18

17

17

16

15

14

13

12

11

10

Qualifying Games

Games Played Within the Croquet England Domain

All singles games in Croquet England Calendar Fixtures, Federation Leagues, inter-club contests and Designated Club Competitions qualify for the system.

Designated Club Competitions are competitions for which all the following apply:

  1. run by Croquet England Affiliate Clubs
  2. hoops set to Croquet England Tournament standard
  3. clearly publicised prior to the start of the tournament as consisting of qualifying games.

Doubles, friendly games within a club, ad hoc games and abandoned games are specifically excluded from the system.

Friendly matches between clubs are included in the system unless both clubs agree prior to the start of the match that the games will not be included.

The Tournament Handicapper must assign a handicap to each player who is not a Croquet England associate prior to the start of the player's first event in the Domain.

Games Played Outside the Croquet England Domain

  1. In countries with an equivalent automatic handicap system, all singles games are included
  2. In countries without an equivalent automatic handicap system
    1. All handicap singles games are included
    2. Level games are included where the non-associate has a World Ranking Grade. The player's handicap must be estimated using the World Ranking Grade as a guide.

Handicap Limits

It is entirely reasonable for Clubs and Federations to set upper or lower handicap limits for players in their leagues, matches and events, such as an upper limit of 12 in league matches, for example. But a complete beginner generally won't be playing in such matches, and may benefit from a first season playing within their clubs off 14 or 16, for example.

Changing Handicap

Handicap changes do not necessarily become effective immediately. They only become effective at the end of the tournament if it is a Croquet England Calendar Fixture or any other tournament lasting no more than four days. In all other cases, handicap changes become effective at the end of the day. If a player's index goes through a trigger point and then goes back through the same trigger point during the tournament or day, their handicap does not change.

Croquet England Associates are required to update their handicaps in the Subscribers' Area of the website - the office is not responsible for this. Players who do not have the means to do this should contact their club secretary.

AC Players

Predominantly AC players should follow the guidance on the Setting an Initial Handicap page, and convert from their AC handicap.

Minus Players

As there is now a strong correlation between the lowest handicaps and their ranking Dynamic Grade, minus players (i.e. those with handicaps below zero) who play fewer than 10 GC handicap singles games in a year are allowed to not keep a handicap card if they so wish, but instead use their current Dynamic Grade to derive a current handicap at any time. They should do this by finding the handicap whose trigger point is the first one below that value.

For example, a player with a DG of 2217 would have a handicap of -2, 2200 being the first trigger point below 2217.

Overseas Players Playing in the UK

Some croquet-playing countries do not have a handicap system or have one that is different in range to that used in the UK. However, most visiting players will have a record on the GC grading system.

The method for deriving handicaps for these players is the same as described in the section Minus Players - use their current Dynamic Grade to derive a current handicap at any time. They should do this by finding the handicap whose trigger point is the first one below that value.

For example, a player with a DG of 1917 would have a handicap of 1, 1900 being the first trigger point below 1917.

Doubles Games

For Advantage GC handicap play, GC Rule 21.5 Doubles states: "In doubles, the advantage handicap of each side is the average of the advantage handicaps of its players and, if it is not an integer, it is to be rounded upwards". Tournament Regulation L5 clarifies what to do when the average is greater than 12.

For Extra Strokes GC handicap play, GC Rule 20.3 covers handicap doubles play and stipulates that Extra Strokes are awarded to a particular player rather than a side, and to the two players with the highest handicap in the game, whether they are on the same or different sides. The number of Extra Strokes given by the lower handicap player on one side, to the highest handicap player on the other side, is given in Table 3. The same procedure applies to the other two players. If the two highest handicap players in the game have the same handicap, and are on the same side, they must announce before the start of the game which of them is to receive Extra Strokes from the lowest handicap player.

The number of Extra Strokes is calculated by halving the difference in handicaps of the two players being compared. Where this calculation leaves a fraction, this is rounded to the nearest whole number (the fraction 0.5 being rounded up), except note Rule 20.3.6 limits this to one player of a side.

For example, if, in a 13-point game, A (Handicap 2) and B (Handicap 7) play C (Handicap 5) and D (Handicap 10), then D receives (10 - 2)/2 = 4 Extra Strokes from A and B receives (7 - 5)/2 = 1 Extra Stroke from C.

NOTE: The comparison of the lowest handicap with the higher handicap of the other side is different from the system that Croquet England operated before 2019, which compared the lowest handicap with the lower handicap of the other side. This brings Croquet England into line with other WCF-member associations.

Different Length Games

For all games, the number of index points exchanged on handicap cards is the same, regardless of the length of the game. The arrangements for playing different-length games are covered below.

For Advantage GC handicap play, GC Rule 21.4 Starting Scores states: "The starting scores that apply to combinations of advantage handicaps for each target score are set out in the relevant starting score table at worldcroquet.org/advantagegc

For Extra Strokes GC handicap play, the number of Extra Strokes awarded in both singles and doubles varies according to the length of the game:

Singles   Doubles

Handicap
difference

Game Length  

Half the
handicap diff

Game Length

7 pt

13 pt

19 pt

 

7 pt

13 pt

19 pt

0 0 0 0   0 0 0 0
1 1 1 1   0.5 0 1 1
2 1 2 3   1 1 1 1
3 2 3 4   1.5 1 2 2
4 2 4 6   2 1 2 3
5 3 5 7   2.5 1 3 4
6 3 6 9   3 2 3 4
7 4 7 10   3.5 2 4 5
8 4 8 12   4 2 4 6
9 5 9 13   4.5 2 5 7
10 5 10 15   5 3 5 7
11 6 11 16   5.5 3 6 8
12 6 12 18   6 3 6 9
13 7 13 19   6.5 4 7 10
14 8 14 20   7 4 7 10
15 8 15 22   7.5 4 8 11
16 9 16 23   8 4 8 12
17 9 17 25   8.5 5 9 12
18 10 18 26   9 5 9 13
19 10 19 28   9.5 5 10 14
20 11 20 29   10 5 10 15
21 11 21 31   10.5 6 11 15
22 12 22 32   11 6 11 16
23 12 23 34   11.5 6 12 17
24 13 24 35   12 6 12 18
25 13 25 37   12.5 7 13 18
26 14 26 38   13 7 13 19

Table 3: For use only in Extra Strokes GC handicap play.

This table shows the number of Extra Strokes given by the stronger player to the weaker player