The RCGA is the authoritative body for the purposes of establishing and maintaining a uniform handicap system for golf clubs in Canada in co-operation with the provincial golf associations. The purpose of the RCGA Handicap System is to make the game of golf more enjoyable for golfers by providing a means of measuring one's performance and progress and to enable golfers of differing abilities to compete on an equitable basis.
Through this system, each golfer establishes an "RCGA Handicap Factor" which is a numerical measurement of a player's potential (not actual) scoring ability on a course of standard difficulty. The Handicap Factor is calculated using the best 10 of the player's last 20 rounds and updated with each new round played. The Handicap Factor travels with the golfer from course to course and is adjusted up or down depending on the length and difficulty of the course played, resulting in a "Course Handicap". The Course Handicap is the number of strokes a golfer receives from a specific set of tees at the course played and represents the number of strokes he would require to play equitably against a "scratch" golfer (a golfer with a Handicap Factor of "0.0'). The more difficult the golf course, the more strokes the golfer receives and vice versa.
The relative difficulty of a golf course is determined jointly by the RCGA and the provincial golf association using the RCGA Course and Slope Rating System. Specially trained Course Rating Teams evaluate the difficulty of a golf course based on such variables as length and a number of obstacle factors (e.g. topography, bunkers, water hazards, severity of rough, etc…).
Only RCGA Member golf clubs are permitted to use the RCGA Handicap System and RCGA Course Rating System and related trademarks and service marks and must do so in a manner that preserves the integrity and reliability of these systems. All rights to use these systems and related trademarks and service marks terminate should the golf club cease to be a member in good standing of the RCGA.