Australia Adopts the Slope System
By Dr. Chris Drane, Australia
On April 9, 2010, Australia became the latest country around the world to adopt the USGA Slope System. It seems that the system devised by the Pope of Slope is destined to become a world standard.
The new Australian handicapping system is a slightly modified version of the USGA system. All differentials will be based on Stableford scores. This has the benefit of reducing the effect of the long tail for poor rounds, and so a positive development. It is similar in application to the net double bogey concept of ESC advocated by Dean Knuth. The new Australian system will be introduced in several steps. Firstly, the rolling sample method of handicap calculation will be introduced. Later on other key aspects will be implemented, including the important slope calculation.
The rolling sample will be calculated as the average of the ten best scores multiplied by the Bonus for Excellence (BFE), which is 0.96. The BFE aims to encourage players to improve by giving the lower handicapping players a head start in competitions. At first sight, the 0.96 sounds like only a very minor adjustment, but in order to understand just what sort of effect it will have I turned to Dean Knuth. He explained that the value of the BFE that would give equality for players is not 1 but a value of 1.07. The reason for this is on average higher handicappers have larger variances, so increasing the difference between the mean score and the handicap. Due to this effect, a BFE of 0.96 provides a 10% change on equality, with the result that a player with a six stroke lower handicap will on average have a one stroke head start. This head start gets greater the larger the difference in handicap, so it can be a very considerable advantage. It is worth noting that this head start was even greater with the old Australian handicapping system, so in many ways the new system is fairer.