Golf Joust Blog

Mixing it up - thoughts on launching a social + mobile app / service for golf, along with release notes, beta stuff and other founder thoughts along the way.

The R&A vs USGA Handicaps

Founded in 1754, The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, better known now as the R&A, is the governing body for golf in the world outside of the United States and Mexico where the USGA is the governing authority. In 2004, the responsibility of golf’s rules globally were handed over to a newly formed group called simply, “The R&A.”  The R&A puts on and organizes 11 championships, the most popular being The Open Championship held every year. First played in 1860, The Open Championship is the oldest of the four major championships in professional golf. The R&A rotates through about 9 courses in Scotland and England each decade, with The Open being played at The Old Course at St. Andrews every five years. 

The R&A works with the USGA to produce and recreate The Rules of Golf every year. The R&A is also involved with “The Decisions of the Rules of Golf,” and golf equipment production. The group founded The Official World Golf Rankings and World Amateur Rankings in 1986 and 2007. 

The only real difference in rules lies with the handicapping procedure. 1927 The R&A gave the handicapping responsibility to the Council of National Golf Unions, or CONGU. The slope system was never used by CONGU, because the English Golf Union refused it. The European Golf Association was created after countries outside the UK demanded the use of slope rating. The CONGU handicapping system still used by British golfers and golf clubs within the UK, is confusing and a bit skewed because it only calculates tournament rounds and compares your score with the lowest scratch rounds of the tournament.

Way too mathematical!

So if you’re an a golfer who uses the slope system, stay away from those CONGU users. Why? Because even though the “handi” may be a little higher than yours, look out, because they probably have some impressive shots waiting in the bag.

I think the R&A might need to take control of the CONGU handicapping system and slope it to make it less confusing. But besides that head scratcher, The R&A is an exceptional group that works endlessly to produce and preserve a spectacular championship, the rules and the history and heritage of golf.

Post by Vinny D’Assaro, Golf Joust editor & correspondent |


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