Games We Play - “Official” Callaway System
One-round handicap system for individual play

“Official” Callaway System

The Callaway or “Official Callaway” handicap system was devised by Lionel F. Callaway to compute a handicap from hole-by-hole scores of a single 18-hole round, ignoring some number of a player’s “worst holes”, based on the player’s total gross score for the round.  It is useful for computing handicaps for a group of unhandicapped players or for players with no playing history on which to base a handicap.

The objective of the Callaway System is to produce net scores in a range from par to the mid-70’s.  Occasionally, a net score below par is produced.  A calculated Callaway handicap cannot exceed 50 strokes, and it is based on hole-by-hole gross scores limited to twice par (6 on par 3’s, 8 on par 4‘s, 10 on par 5’s).  Because a competitor’s handicap is not determined until the round is complete, intermediate net scores are not available during play.

Generally, an event using the Official Callaway system rewards skilled golfers who score consistently, and play particularly well on the last 2 holes.  Like most one-round handicap calculations, the Callaway System leaves most participants thinking that they were almost a winner.

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