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Setting an Initial Handicap

Players New to Croquet

When a new player starts playing competitive Golf Croquet, it is essential that an appropriate handicap is given - 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 assess the player's handicap - it is quite approximate, and the initial handicap must be reviewed by the Club Handicapper, and corrected if necessary, after the player has recorded the first five to ten results.

The simple test for players new to croquet is known as the Three-Times-Round test (and for the avoidance of any doubt, this should be performed on a full-sized court). 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 this aggregate is less than 50, the player's handicap should be separately assessed. The test 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
50-53 7 1350
54-56 8 1300
57-60 9 1250
61-63 10 1200
64-67 11 1150
68-70 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 that 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 off 14 or 16 within the club. Most importantly, remember that players must play off their correct handicap at all times.

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

Players must update their handicaps in the Subscribers' Area of the Croquet England website - if unable to do so, they should contact their club secretary.

Existing Association Croquet Players

For AC players with an AC handicap of 9 or lower, the values in the table below provide an initial GC handicap and show what the corresponding starting GC Dynamic Grade is. (The table was updated on 28 January 2023 so it is aligned with that in WCF Rankings Regulations, Appendix 3.)

Handicappers should routinely review handicaps set on this basis after 5 or 10 games, and adjust them if necessary (remembering that only National Handicappers may adjust GC handicaps that are 3 or lower).

Table 4: GC Handicap for Existing AC Players

AC Handicap

GC Handicap Starting GC DGrade
-3 to -2.5 -3 2350
-2 to -1.5 -2 2200
-1 to -0.5 -1 2100
0 to 0.5 0 2000
1 to 1.5 1 1900
2 to 3 2 1800
3.5 to 5 3 1700
6 to 7 4 1600
8 to 9 5 1500

Players Who Remain Predominantly AC Players

Such players who achieve an AC handicap change having played fewer than 10 GC games during that period of reduction/increase, must also have their GC handicap altered simultaneously in order to maintain a relevant and concurrent GC handicap.

Predominantly AC players are those who have played fewer than 10 ranked games of GC in the last 12 months, and is to obtain their GC handicap by using the conversion table above. Any player who has played 10 or more ranked games of GC in the last 12 months is NOT to use the above table, and are to either keep a GC handicap card, or can derive their GC handicap from their GC Dynamic Grade, as explained in the Minus Players section, if this gives a negative handicap (otherwise, they must keep a card).

Returning Players

A player returning to the sport after a break of some years should play off his or her previous handicap unless there are valid and compelling reasons (e.g. medical) to alter that handicap. If there are, and the handicap is to be changed, a Club or Federation Handicapper must consult with a National Handicapper to jointly determine the new handicap.