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System 36 Golf: How to beat the system

Category: Knowledge Center

System 36 is used in golf competitions to determine a golfers handicap after the round of golf. That handicap is then applied to their gross score to evaluate a winner. Of course that is very different to the traditional way of running a competition but for those countries where golf handicaps are not common it is an option to make the competition fairer.

What is System 36?

In Asia, the method is frequently used during corporate trips and charity events when many players do not have an official handicap. It has some limitations, but it does ease the burden of coaches or organizers attempting to guess a handicap. It provides an ‘equal playing field' by eliminating the possibility of anyone being accused of being a "handicap bandit"

System 36 rewards players who make birdies and penalizes those who score double-bogeys or worse. After the round, everyone's "handicap" is calculated according to System 36 standards.

System 36 is becoming increasingly popular in Thailand as more Thais get into golf.

How is System 36 calculated?

Throughout the round, the golfer accrues points based on the following formula:

Hole Score Points
Albatross 2
Eagle  2
Birdie 2
Par 2
Bogey 1
Double Bogey 0
Triple Bogey (or worse) 0


At the conclusion of the round, points are totaled up. The difference between 36 and the total is subtracted, and this is the golfer's handicap. The Net score may then be calculated by subtracting the handicap from 36.

For example, let’s say you play 90 strokes during an 18 hole round. Along the way you have one birdie, seven pars, eight bogeys, and two double-bogeys or worse. First, calculate your accrued points:

 8 (pars and birdie) x 2 (points per par or better)     = 16

8 (bogeys) x 1 (point per bogey)                               =  8

2 (doubles or worse) x 0 (points per double)           =  0

 So your points total is 24. Now subtract this total from 36 = 12. For the day’s competition 12 is your allotted handicap. Now apply this to your gross score: 90 – 12 = 78. In this example 78 is your net score. 

How to win when System 36 is being used

To win at System 36, you must make birdies and avoid double bogeys or worse. So you need to play aggressive golf from the tee, take driver everywhere you can and go for every birdie putt.

If, you can't make a birdie on the hole after your tee shot then play it safe to avoid a double bogey. Sounds simple enough but obviously not in practice.

Playing safe when you can't get a birdie is how you can win at System 36 every time.

Only holes over double bogey increase a net score; only holes under par reduce a net score.

Favors Better Players

The player with the most birdies and fewest double bogeys (or worse) will be declared the winner. Better players have a minimal advantage over high handicappers because they are more likely to score birdies (or better) and less likely to have ‘blow-out' holes that result in a double bogey or worse.

While the system may not be perfect, it does provide a more level playing field and is gaining in popularity. So next time you're on the course and someone suggests playing System 36, give it a go! You might just find you enjoy the challenge.

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Birdie - Golf Courses in Thailand BIRDIE Team Monday, 6th June at 08:54 AM


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