Golf Canada to institute changes to Equitable Stroke Control


- Changes to Canadian methodology for tracking golfer handicaps to take effect March 1, 2012 -

Oakville, Ont. (Golf Canada) – The Royal Canadian Golf Association (operating as Golf Canada) has announced a notable change to the Canadian methodology for calculating a golf handicap as it relates to Equitable Stroke Control (ESC).

The RCGA Handicap & Course Rating Committee recently approved a change to the long-standing Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) method, bringing the Canadian methodology into equivalency with current ESC calculations employed by the United States Golf Association (USGA).

The new Canadian methodology for Equitable Stroke Control will go into effect March 1, 2012 to coincide with the release of the 2012-2015 version of the Handicap Manual.

Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) is the downward adjustment of individual hole scores for handicap purposes in order to make Handicap Factors more representative of a player's potential scoring ability. It sets a maximum number that a golfer can post on any hole depending on the player's Course Handicap.

The modification to the current Equitable Stroke Control calculation is illustrated in the ESC table below:

The RCGA Handicap & Course Rating Committee approved the change after commissioning statistical research which revealed that the current Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) method causes differences in Handicap Factors that are not necessarily commensurate with a difference in ability, particularly for golfers in the higher half of each range of handicaps within the ESC table.

A golfer with a 1 handicap, for example, should not be subject to the same ESC score adjustments as a player with an 18 handicap when their abilities are so different. By reducing the size of the handicap ranges within the ESC table, those issues are mitigated. The new ESC method provides a more even distribution across a wide range of handicaps.

Using maximum numbers (rather than adjustments being based on hole-par) facilitates simpler application and comprehension of the Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) procedure.  It also mitigates the affect of courses not allocating the proper par to holes as per RCGA guidelines.

Currently, in a head-to-head match, the lower handicap player has a better than 50% chance of winning. The new ESC will bring the odds closer to 50%.

The new ESC brings an RCGA Handicap Factor and USGA Handicap Index into virtual equivalency – an important consideration with the number of ‘snowbirds’ playing golf in certain parts of the United States during the winter months. 

Canada will continue to use ‘Handicap Factor’ as the proper terminology related to handicapping.

Golf Canada will be communicating the changes to Equitable Stroke Control methodology to all Canadian golf industry groups including golf clubs that use Golf Canada’s Handicap Network and golfers that track an official handicap in advance of March 1, 2012.

In 2011 alone, more than 350,000 golfers who maintain an official RCGA Handicap Factor posted close to 7 million scores through the Handicap Network portal on  

A handicap in golf is a numerical measure of a golfer's playing ability based on the tees played for a given course. A handicap is used to calculate a net score from the number of strokes actually played, thus allowing players of different proficiency to play against each other on an equitable basis. The higher the handicap of a player relates to lesser golfing abilities relative to golfers with lower handicaps.

Golf Canada – a member-based organization governed by the Royal Canadian Golf Association (RCGA) – is the governing body of golf in Canada, representing close to 350,000 members at almost 1,500 clubs across the country. Recognized by Sport Canada as the National Sports Organization (NSO) for golf in this country, Golf Canada is responsible for promoting participation in and a passion for the game of golf in Canada.

A proud member of the Canadian Olympic Committee, Golf Canada actively conducts championships, programs and services to help shape the present and future of golf in Canada. High performance athlete development, National Golf in Schools, Golf Fore the Cure, the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and Museum and CN Future Links, Canada’s national junior golf program, are only some of the initiatives the association leads for golf in Canada. As the authority for golf in Canada, the association also administers the Rules of Golf, amateur status and handicapping and course rating under the respected RCGA brand.

In addition, Golf Canada conducts Canada’s most prestigious golf championships. The RBC Canadian Open and CN Canadian Women’s Open attract the best professional golfers in the world, while regional junior and national amateur championships provide world class competitive opportunities for Canada’s top golfers to showcase their talents.

For more information about what Golf Canada is doing to support golf in your community, visit us online at

Media Contact:

Dan Pino
Director, Corporate Communications
Golf Canada
Office: 1-800-263-0009 ext. 406
Mobile: (416) 434-5525