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Setting Initial Handicaps under the New System

Players New to Croquet

When a new player starts playing competitive Golf Croquet, it is essential they be given an appropriate handicap - not every beginner is the same! It is generally the task of the Club Handicapper to set the initial handicap.

Use the following test to set the initial handicap - it is quite approximate and the initial handicap must be reviewed by the Club Handicapper after the player has recorded their first five to ten results, and corrected if necessary.

The simple test for players new to croquet is known as the Three Times Round test. The player starts from Corner 4 and counts the number of strokes required to run Hoops 1 to 6 inclusive, completing the exercise three times. Table 3 is then used to convert the aggregate number of strokes taken for the three exercises into an initial handicap. If the player's aggregate is less than 50 the player's handicap should be separately assessed. It should not be used for players who have played Association Croquet and have AC handicaps less than 10.

Table 3: The Three-times-round Test
Strokes Taken Initial Handicap Initial Index
50-54 7 1350
55-60 8 1300
61-64 10 1200
64-70 12 1100
71-78 14 1050
>78 16 1000

The practice of setting all beginners at a handicap of 16 must be avoided. Most players have some natural ability which deserves a handicap less than 16 - only set a handicap as high as 16 if the Three Times Round test suggests it is necessary.

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 immediately, and may benefit from a first season playing within their clubs off 14 or 16, for example.

The Three Times Round test may also be used by Club Handicappers on existing high-handicap players to confirm or adjust their handicap, particularly if there is doubt about the accuracy of their existing handicap. The Club Handicapper must review the new handicap after 5 or 10 recorded games and correct it if necessary.

Existing Association Croquet Players

The following table suggests an initial GC handicap for an AC player with a handicap of less than 10

Table 4: Suggested GC Handicap for Existing AC Players
AC Handicap Suggested GC Handicap
Less than -1 -3
-0.5 to -1 -1
0 to 0.5 0
1 to 1.5 1
2 to 3 2
3.5 to 5 3
6 to 7 4
8 to 9 5

Such guidance can only be approximate and a lot will depend on the tactical knowledge and skill level of the specific player. Handicappers should routinely review handicaps set on this basis after 5 or 10 games, and adjust them if necessary.

Returning Players

A player returning to the sport after a break of some years should play off their previous handicap unless there are valid and compelling reasons (e.g. medical) to alter their handicap. If there are, and their handicap is to be changed, then a CA and club handicapper must jointly determine the new handicap.


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