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The Callaway System

The Callaway System is a handicap algorithm designed to provide a handicap estimate based on one round of play. The Callaway 'handicap' can then be used to calculate a net score for that round. The Callaway system is quite popular for company outings and tournaments where most golfers do not have handicaps. It is also relatively straightforward to calculate. We explain the Callaway calculation below.

The Callaway system is a "worst-holes" calculation, in that it uses up to six of the player's worst holes in a round, adjusted by a 'factor,' to obtain a handicap. That handicap is then subtracted from the player's gross score to obtain a net score. The net scores for all players can be compared to see who will win the tournament prize.

Use the table below to calculate your Callaway handicap. First, look up your gross score on the left side of the table, and find how many holes you will need to use to calculate your handicap.

The Callaway System
Gross Score   Handicap Calculation
-- 70 7172 Scratch Handicap. Use gross Score
7374 75 -- Handicap = 1/2 worst hole score + adjustment
7677 78 7980 Handicap = Worst hole score + adjustment
8182 83 8485 Handicap = 1 1/2 worst hole scores + adjustment
8687 88 8990 Handicap = 2 worst hole scores + adjustment
9192 93 9495 Handicap = 2 1/2 worst hole scores + adjustment
9697 98 99100 Handicap = 3 worst hole scores + adjustment
101102 103 104105 Handicap = 3 1/2 worst hole scores + adjustment
106107 108 109110 Handicap = 4 worst hole scores + adjustment
111112 113 114115 Handicap = 4 1/2 worst hole scores + adjustment
116117 118 119120 Handicap = 5 worst hole scores + adjustment
121122 123 124125 Handicap = 5 1/2 worst hole scores + adjustment
126127 128 129130 Handicap = 6 worst hole scores + adjustment
131132 133 134135 Handicap = 6 1/2 worst hole scores + adjustment






Adjustment factor for handicap

Next, take look up the # of worst scores (for 2 1/2, the third worst score is divided by two), but with the following rules:
  • Worst scores cannot be used from the 17th and 18th holes (it is too easy to throw the last few holes if a golfer is ahead)
  • For any worst score that is greater than twice the hole par value, only twice the par value should be deducted (in the spirit of ESC)
  • Once the scores are added up, round up any fractions to the next higher number (e.g. a 7 on a par five that counts as half a worst score should be rounded up to a 4)
Finally, adjust the sum of those scores by the adjustment factor. To find the adjustment factor, look up your score in the above table. At the bottom of the table, in the same column, is the adjustment factor. If your sum of worst holes is 18, and your gross score is 89, than your adjustment factor is +1 and your Callaway handicap is 19.

Your net score is simply your gross score minus your Callaway handicap (in the above example, your net score is 89 - 19 = 70).

Here is an example: Imagine a Callaway tournament where you shoot a 95. You look up in the table and find that your Callaway handicap is your 2 1/2 worst scores plus an adjustment factor of +2. Your four worst scores are an 8 on a par 5, a 7 on a par 5, a 7 on a par 4, and a 7 on a par 3. But, your worst score, the 8, took place on the 17th hole and therefore cannot count towards your Callaway handicap. In addition, because your 7 on the par 3 is more than twice the par value, it can only count as a six towards the Callaway handicap. The resulting handicap is 7 + 7 + 6/2 + 2 (Adj Factor) = 19. Your net score is 95 - 19 = 76.
A Quick Warning
Many people feel that though the Callaway system gives a sense of competitiveness, it is unreliable and biased towards better players - i.e. even though players with higher gross scores will be given net scores within a few strokes of the leaders, the player with the lowest gross score will be more than likely become the low net score winner. Nonetheless, many people enjoy using the Callaway system for tournaments, as it always adds excitement and is better than competing solely on a gross score basis.
Next time you have an office tournament, or go out with friends who don't have handicaps, tell them about MyScorecard.com. And then, if you would like to play that day, you can use the Callaway System to approximate handicaps and create a more exciting and competitive round for everyone.

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