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Best Ball

“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).

Below is a scorecard used in a Callaway tournament for Al Czervik and Earl Havercamp on which their hole-by-hole gross scores are recorded.

Callaway scorecard

Individual hole-by-hole gross scores

In this illustration of the use of the Callaway System, the handicap allowances of Al and Earl are computed such that they both have a “net” score of 75. This Callaway handicap and net score is completely independent of whether Al and Earl have real Handicap Indexes or Course Handicaps, or which tee they play from. The Callaway handicap is computed completely from their hole-by-hole gross scores.

Net Best-Ball results

Official Callaway calculated handicap allowances and net scores

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 suggests to every participant that they were “almost” a winner.