The purpose of the handicap system is to make the game of golf more enjoyable by enabling players of different abilities to compete on an equitable basis. The system provides a fair Course Handicap for each player, regardless of ability and adjusts a player’s Handicap Factor up or down to reflect the player’s potential ability. A Handicap Factor is useful for all forms of play and is issued only to individuals who are members of Golf Canada either as public players or as members of a Golf Canada member club.

The OVGA active season when scores must be posted for handicap purposes is April 15 to October 31. Scores made in an area with an active season (Florida in January) shall be posted as soon as practical at the player’s home club or immediately on the Golf Canada Score Center website.

Each Golf Canada member club is expected to have a handicap committee to monitor players’ use of the handicap program to help ensure fair competition among golfers at their own club or elsewhere. Although club employees can serve on this committee along with club members, the handicap chair must be a club member. At least one person on the handicap committee must have handicap certification issued by the provincial associations on behalf of Golf Canada. This certification is valid for 4 years at which time the individual must recertify. Both Golf Ontario and Golf Quebec offer handicap certification training in the OVGA area. Golf Canada offers online certification.


In 2020 the new “World Handicap System” will take effect so that golfers anywhere in the world will be using the same system for determining their handicaps. For those individuals who are due for handicap recertification in 2019 Golf Canada will be extending their current certification for one year. They should recertify when the World Handicap System takes effect in 2020.

Each club should have at least one copy of the current Golf Canada handicap manual available for members to consult.

Course Rating

The purpose of the Course Rating System is to measure and rate the relative difficulty of golf courses across Canada (and many other countries) so that a player’s handicap factor is accurate and transportable from one golf course to another. The course rating system takes into account factors that affect the playing difficulty of a golf course including yardage, effective playing length, and a number of obstacle factors such as topography, elevation changes, bunkering, penalty areas, green speed, and green surface undulations.

The course rating system used in Canada since 1995 was developed and is updated regularly by the USGA. The course rating system consists of 2 basic elements:

  • Course Rating is the evaluation of the playing difficulty of a course for scratch golfers under normal course and weather conditions expressed as a number of strokes (e.g. 72.1)

  • Slope Rating is the evaluation of the relative difficulty of a course for players who are not scratch golfers compared to the difficulty of the course for scratch golfers. The lowest slope rating is 55 and the highest is 155. A course of standard playing difficulty will have a slope rating of 113.


Each Golf Canada member golf course should have a valid course and slope rating which is updated every 10 years. Also a rating review can be requested through the club’s provincial association if there have been modifications made to the course since the last rating.


The course rating team is composed of local volunteers who are trained and supervised by the provincial golf associations. The field work done by the rating team provides the raw data about the course from which the course rating and slope are calculated using the USGA Course Rating System.


If a club disagrees with or has questions about their rating they should contact their provincial golf association.

     2019 Scheduled Course Ratings:

  • Calabogie Highlands

  • Loch March

  • Carleton Golf & Yacht

  • Cedar Glen

  • Pakenham Highlands

  • Mont Ste Marie

  • Stittsville

  • Rivermead


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