Very few countries have adopted a women’s handicap rating, creating confusion for women seeking to play in tournaments internationally. To faciliate play and reduce compression of abilities in lower handicap levels, WIPN encourages more countries to adopt a uniform women’s handicap system.
Below is a summary of the US, UK and Argentine women’s handicap protocols, which have been proven as effective. Other countries who have adopted a women’s handicap system include Singapore, Australia, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, New Zealand, Thailand, and China.
USPA’s Women’s Handicap System
The USPA (United States Polo Association) created the women’s handicap in part thanks to the efforts of US player, Sunny Hale. Her goal was to alleviate the compression of handicaps among -2 to 2 goal players. For example, players who had a zero-goal handicap in mixed, had vastly different abilities in women’s polo. The translation scale (shown below) serves as a guideline for assigning handicaps. For example zero-goal mixed players would start at a two-goal women’s handicap then be adjusted from there. Hence, some women may carry a four-goal rating in women’s and a 0/A rating in mixed.
Women’s Handicap Scale from USPA’s 2017 Rulebook
(mixed handicap rating = women’s handicap rating)
|-1 = 0||1 = 4||4 = 9|
|-0.5 = 1||1.5 = 5||5 and above = 10|
|0 = 2||2 = 6|
|0.5 = 3||3 = 8|
The handicap process is not a perfect science. Therefore, the USPA committee meets bi-annually to assess and revisit player ratings. The current Women’s Handicap Committee chairman, Maureen Brennan, has created a thorough system of questions to clarify a player’s handicap. During the year, the chairman also engages in open discussion regarding the handicap’s of new players or players who may need an adjustment.
Hurlingham Polo Association, UK
The HPA (Hurlingham Polo Association) women’s handicap translation scale is slightly different than the UK’s, but it too, is effective.
Argentine Polo Associations Women’s Handicap
Following on from the USPA’s efforts, a group of Argentine women began encouraging the Argentine Polo Association to implement the women’s handicap there. Their original template was similar to the USPA’s.