What are the Soft Cap and Hard Cap Procedures?

Why is my Handicap Index not changing?

There are many reasons why your Handicap Index may not be moving; most often the reason is that your recently posted score differential is not among the lowest eight of your most recent 20 scores.  If that isn’t the case, it could be due to a soft/hard cap being applied in your Handicap Index calculation.

The cap procedures were introduced with the World Handicap System (WHS) to limit the extreme upward movement of a Handicap Index and ensure that a run of bad scores do not severely impact your Index.  This is outlined in the Rules of Handicapping (Rule 5.8).

What is a “soft cap” and a “hard cap”?

To understand the soft & hard cap, first we must explain the Low Handicap Index.  Your Low Index is the “memory” of your demonstrated ability over the last 365 days.  Simply put, your Low Index is the lowest Handicap Index that you have held over the last 365-days.  The Low Index is used as the comparison point to determine if a soft or hard cap should be applied.

Each time you post a score, the Golf Canada Score Centre compares your newly calculated Handicap Index to your Low Index.

Soft Cap – When your newly calculated Handicap Index is more than 3.0 strokes above your Low Handicap Index, the soft cap is applied and the value above 3.0 strokes is restricted to 50% of the increase.

For Example:

You are a golfer with a Low Index of 12.0.  You post a new score which results in a calculated Handicap Index of 16.0.  The difference is 4.0, and since this more than 3.0, the soft cap would apply.

Handicap Index = 12.0 + 3.0 + ((4.0 – 3.0) x 50%)

= 12.0 + 3.0 + (1.0 x 50%)

= 12.0 + 3.0 + 0.5

= 15.5

Your Handicap Index would be 15.5

Hard Cap – The hard cap limits the upward movement of your handicap index to a maximum of 5.0 strokes above your Low Handicap Index.

For Example:

You are a golfer with a Low Index of 12.0.  You post a new score which results in a calculated Handicap Index of 20.0.  The difference is 8.0, and since your Handicap Index cannot be more than 5.0 higher than your Low Index, your Handicap Index would be hard capped at 17.0.

Both cap procedures are automatically applied to your handicap index. No need for you to do anything!