Course Handicaps FAQs

1. What is an “ACH”?
It is a handicap relating to a particular course which is awarded to a competitor in a National or State level competition played on that course. 
2. Why have ACHs been introduced?
So that as many players as possible who compete in major handicap competitions will be playing off handicaps earned on the course being played on instead of on some other course.  
3. Why isn’t my Home Course handicap used instead of the ACH?
A player’s Home Course handicap reflects the standard of their play on their Home Course.  It rises and falls depending on their performance on that course. It does not take into account any aspect of their performance on different courses, nor of differences in the courses, their relative degree of difficulty or the players’ familiarity with them. 
4. Why can’t I have a single handicap for all the courses I may play on as happens with Golf?
This is a desirable objective.  However, the system used in Golf to achieve this result is based on two main components, (1) the existence of a centralized, uniform handicapping system to which all competitors are required to contribute annual membership fees to meet the costs of its operation, and (2) the existence of a professionally administered course rating system that measures the relative degree of difficulty of each course and provides for it in the handicapping system. These components do not yet exist for Pitch and Putt.
5. Who awards the ACH and on what basis?
The ACH is awarded by APPA on the basis of the results of each National and State level competition. 
6. How is an ACH calculated?
A player’s initial ACH is the average above or below par of the aggregate of their gross scores for the first three rounds of an eligible competition (their Raw Handicap), adjusted so that it does not exceed 2 strokes more or less than their Home Course handicap. The handicap is then adjusted for each subsequent round played in an eligible completion on that course. The adjustments are those recommended by FIPPA and APPA for all handicap systems. The first handicaps awarded by APPA have been calculated on the results of eligible competitions from 2007.
7. How is the ACH used?
Lists of all players who have been awarded ACHs are provided to eligible entities. Prior to each eligible competition, APPA will provide to the convenor of the competition a list showing the ACHs of all entrants for that competition.  Those ACHs will be used by the convenor in determining the results of the handicap components of the competition.
8. What happens if I don’t have an ACH but want to play in an eligible competition?
If you don’t have a Home Course handicap, you will be eligible to play only in the gross (scratch) component of the competition.  If you do have a Home Course handicap, you will play off that handicap, which will also be used to calculate your initial ACH.
9. What happens if the competition is being played on a course on which I have a handicap?
You will be regarded as a Home Course player and will play off your current handicap.
10. What happens if I have more than one Home Course handicap?
You will be regarded as a Home Course player on each of the courses for which you have a current handicap, using the relevant handicap.
11. Why should a player who has until now played on a low handicap be given an ACH which is higher?
Until now, players in all competitions have played off their Home Course handicaps.  No account has been taken of their previous performance on the course now being played on.  Most players do not achieve the same standard of performance on courses on which they do not play regularly as they do on their home courses.  The ACH measures the standard of their performance on the course being used.
12. How does the ACH affect my Home Course handicap?
The ACH has no effect on your Home Course handicap.  They are maintained separately and are unconnected.
13. Why are the ACHs different from the Home Course handicaps of most players?
Mainly because they are earned on different courses.  
14. By how much do a player’s ACHs on different courses vary from each other?
By up to three or four strokes. This reflects the difference in the degree of difficulty players experience with different courses.
15. If a player’s ACH is bigger than their Home Course handicap, why does this not give them an unfair advantage?
Because the standard of their play on the competition course will probably be different from their standard on the home course.  The ACH relates to the course for which it is awarded – not to some other, different course. 
16. What happens if I don’t play again for a long time on a course for which I have an ACH?
If an ACH is not used for 5 years it lapses. The player then has to go through the process of acquiring an ACH again.
17. What effect does the ACH have on competition place-getters’ results?
Had the ACHs been applied to the scores for the handicap component of the 2011 Australian Open at Waverley instead of Home Course handicaps, there would have been changes of up to 4 places in the Men’s 1st and 2nd Divisions and the Women’s 1st Division place-getter results. There would have been no change in the Men’s 3rd Division or the Women’s 2nd Division places.
18. Does the ACH properly reflect the changes in the standard of the player’s skill over time?
There are many variables that affect a player’s skill and their performance in competition. A major variable, however, is the course on which the competition is being played.  A run of good rounds on their home course resulting in a reduced handicap there will often not be continued on a different course.  
19. Does the ACH system reflect the differences in the difficulty of different courses?
Yes, but indirectly.  The best measure would be the sort of processes undertaken in Golf, but these are complex and not easily replicated.
20. Is the ACH system fair?
A perfect system of handicapping would produce a result where all the players’ nett scores exactly equaled par. The closer the system comes to this outcome, the better and fairer it is. It appears likely that the ACH system will come closer to this (humanly unattainable) target than  what has gone before it, because it is based on actual scores achieved on the courses concerned, rather than on assumptions about what players would achieve because of what they have done elsewhere.