The following information has been adapted from the Golf Association of Ontario (GAO) website. To learn more about handicapping, please visit

Table of Contents:

1. How do I sign up to get a Handicap Factor?

There are three ways that you can become a GAO member.

  1. Join the Public Player Program. The Public Player Program allows golfers to join the GAO/Golf Canada without being a member of a golf club. Players wising to enter the Public Player events run by the GAO must obtain a handicap in this way.
  2. Join the GTA Am Tour’s Handicap club. Please contact Mark Young to do so. 

2. Now that I have a profile, how do I get a Handicap Factor?

Once you have a profile, you can begin posting scores.  Sign into your account to post scores as hole-by-hole.  At least five acceptable scores are required before a Handicap Factor can be computed.

3. What is Equitable Stroke Control (ESC)?

When scores are posted as hole-by-hole, ESC is automatically calculated. ESC is the downward adjustment of individual hole scores for handicap purposes. This is in order to make handicaps more representative of a player’s potential ability.  ESC sets a maximum number that a player can post on any hole depending on that player’s Course Handicap.

In order to apply ESC, find your Course Handicap on the left side to determine the maximum number that you can post on any hole.

Course Handicap Max Number on any Hole
9 or less Double Bogey
10 through 19 7
20 through 29 8
30 through 39 9
40 and over 10

4. How many scores does it take to have a Handicap Factor?

The minimum number of scores that need to be posted to calculate a Handicap Factor is five. Once you have posted 20 or more scores, the 20 most recent scores are used to determine your Handicap Factor.  Remember: these scores must be from clubs that have official Course and Slope Ratings.

5. What is a Handicap Differential?

A Handicap Differential is the difference between a player’s adjusted gross score and the Course Rating of the course on which the score was made.  The Handicap Differential is calculated using the following formula:

(Adjusted Gross Score – Course Rating) x 113
Slope Rating

The result of the formula is then rounded to the nearest tenth (one decimal place)

6. What do Course Slope and Rating mean?

Course Rating is an evaluation of the playing difficulty of a course for a scratch golfer. This evaluation is based on normal course and weather conditions, yardage and other obstacles to the extent that they affect the scoring ability of a scratch golfer.

Slope Rating indicates the measurement of relative difficulty of a course for players who are not scratch golfers compared to the Course Rating.  Slope Rating is computed from the difference between the Bogey Rating (playing difficulty for the bogey golfer) and Course Rating.

7. What does the “R” beside my handicap factor mean?

An “R” beside your Handicap Factor means that your factor has been reduced based on exceptional tournament scores.  This adjustment is made when a player has a minimum of two eligible tournament score differentials that are at least 3.0 better than the players Handicap Factor. For detailed examples and calculations about reductions based on exceptional tournament scores, please refer to section 10-3 of the Golf Canada Handicap Manual.

8. What scores do I have to post for Handicap purposes?

Fair handicapping depends upon full and accurate information regarding a player’s potential scoring ability as reflected by a complete scoring record.  Every player must be responsible for posting ALL acceptable scores as outline below. Please note that the Tour will automatically post all rounds from Tour events to your record.

  • All 9 hole scores, all 18 hole scores played under The Rules of Golf on courses with a Course and Slope Rating
  • If 7 to 12 holes are played, you must post a 9 hole score
  • If 13 holes or more are played, you must post an 18 hole score
  • Scores from both match play and stroke play must be posted for handicap purposes
  • A player who is disqualified from a competition, but has an acceptable score must still record an adjusted gross score for handicap purposes

9. What score do I post for holes that I didn’t play, or didn’t finish?

Under the Handicap System, each player is required to record a hole score for a hole not finished, not played, or not played under The Rules of Golf.

When a hole is started but not finished (including conceded strokes), the player must record for handicap purposes the most likely score. The most likely score consists of the number of strokes already taken plus, in a player’s best judgment, the number of strokes that it would take to complete the hole from that position more than half the time. When recording this score, the number should be preceded by an “X” (ex. X-4).

When a player does not play a hole or plays it other than under The Rules of Golf, the score recorded for that hole for handicap purposes must be par plus any handicap strokes the player is entitled to. When recording this score, the number should be preceded by an “X”. For example: A player with a Course Handicap of 10 receives a handicap stroke on the first 10 allocated stroke holes.  If that player does not play one of those holes, the player must record a score of par plus one.

Please note: These adjusted hole scores may not exceed the player’s Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) limit (as defined in Section 4-3 of the Golf Canada Handicap Manual, and also explained in the following FAQ).

10. What is the Tour's preferred method of posting scores?

The GTA Am Tour prefers that all players use the hole-by-hole method of posting scores as this method facilitates superior peer review - an important aspect of the Tour - plus, this method automatically calculates Equitable Stroke Control (ESC).

11. What is a CURRENT and ACCURATE Handicap Factor?

Players must post scores from ALL rounds played (nine or eighteen holes, including match play), ALL competitive events (other than GTA AM Tour events) and ALL other rounds. Scores MUST be entered as soon as possible after a round is completed. All scores must be accurately entered prior to any GTA Am Tour event.

All scores entered must be from the slope and rating for the correct set of tee blocks played. All Tournament Scores must be entered as Tournament Scores. All scores must be entered utilizing Equitable Stroke Control or ESC. The preferred method of posting scores is the Hole by Hole Method which automatically calculates ESC.

12. When is the active season for Ontario?

The active season in Ontario is from April 15th – October 31st. Active seasons for other provinces/states may be different. Players should pay particular attention to the requirement to post rounds, if they play in the winter in a jurisdiction with an active season during the time the round is played.

13. Who should I talk to about a Handicapping issues?

Please contact the Tour’s Handicap Committee Chair.

14. I hardly ever play to my Handicap Factor. Is my Factor wrong?

No it is not. Research tells us that the average player is expected to play to his/her Course Handicap no more than 25% of the time. With the best score in the most recent 20 being on average only two strokes higher than his/her Course Handicap.

How do you know what you need to score to play to your Handicap?  It’s called your target score, and is calculated by adding your Course Handicap to the Course Rating of the tees to be played.

15. Can I post scores from a course that doesn’t have a course rating or slope?

On the Golf Canada website, you are only able to post scores from rounds played on a course with a Course and Slope Rating (or equivalent if rounds are played internationally) however, the Tour has implemented a policy so that we can address this situation, based on the length of course played.

Effective playing length is the prime factor in the calculation of course rating.  To facilitate the most equitable input of scores, the Tour will calculate course rating, using a formula that is based on a numerical analysis and graphing of a number of courses of varying lengths. We will use a slope of 113, the slope for a course of equal difficulty for bogey and scratch golfers.

If you play a course that is not registered with Golf Canada, and therefore does not have a valid course slope and rating, please email Matt MacKay ( either a photograph of your scorecard, including yardage played, or a scanned/emailed version of your hole by hole score. It is the responsibility of each player to notify The Tour of these rounds.