"A modern handicap system for all golfers everywhere"
The new World Handicap System (WHS) has been designed to encourage more golfers to obtain a handicap - enabling them to play with, or against, each other anywhere around the world.
The idea for a new, unified system was conceived by The R&A and the USGA and developed following an extensive review of existing systems administered by six handicapping authorities. Adaptable across golfing cultures, the proposed new system will provide players with a consistent measure of playing ability globally, helping to make the game of golf more enjoyable.
The WHS came into operation on 2nd November 2020. The current CONGU Unified Handicapping System is replaced by WHS which unifies the six handicapping structures currently in place throughout the world. With one single system in place golfers can obtain and maintain a handicap index; use their handicap index on any golf course around the world; and compete or play a casual round with anyone else on a fair and equal basis.
(Feb 2022) Unfortunately whilst it remains a priority there is not yet full interoperability across different countries.
There are a number of links in the sidebar to various sources of further information. The R&A link leads to a wealth of information and includes videos, background, the key principles and additional Q &A's.
Any queries, in the first instance, please contact CGU Secretary Chris Pountney.
Key Features of the WHS
Calculation of Playing Handicap
The number of strokes received during a round will be based on the choice of course, tees and format of play. This will include any Handicap Allowances that have been set to promote fairness of play.
Go out and enjoy your Round
Under the new system, golfers should feel like they can simply play and enjoy their round – just the same as always.
Submit your Score
The player should submit their score as soon as practicable after completing the round, preferably before midnight on the day of play for inclusion in the daily Course Conditions Adjustment calculation. This allows a responsive update of the player’s handicap for the next day they play.
There is no real need for golfers to worry about the technical details of the new system. However, for those who are interested – here are some of the highlights:
Minimal Number of Scores to Obtain a Handicap
To encourage new players to the game, National Associations can set the number of holes required to be submitted to obtain a handicap. It is recommended that the minimum number of holes should be 54, in any combination of 9-hole or 18-hole rounds.
Under the new system, the maximum handicap that can be issued to a player of any gender is 54.0.
Acceptable Scores for Handicap Purposes
Singles and Stableford formats of stroke-play competitions must be submitted by all players. National Associations have discretion within their jurisdiction to decide if other acceptable formats of play can be submitted for handicap purposes – giving players plenty of opportunity to submit scores and provide evidence of their potential ability.
Maximum Hole Score
Golfers of all skill levels will occasionally make a high score on a hole, which does not reflect their potential. Under the new system, the maximum score per hole will be limited to Net Double Bogey, which is the equivalent of zero points in Stableford formats.
Course Rating and Slope Rating
Course Rating indicates the difficulty of a golf course for a 0-handicap golfer. Slope Rating is relative to the Course Rating, providing strokes needed to play at the same level as the 0-handicap golfer for a specific set of tees. Course and Slope Ratings enable golfers’ handicaps to be portable from course to course, country to country.
Basis of Handicap Calculation
Averaging the best eight of a player’s most recent 20 scores provides a good indicator of potential ability. When combined with memory of demonstrated ability over time, the resulting handicap provides a balance between responsiveness and control - so a temporary loss of form should not automatically lead to an excessive increase in handicap.
Abnormal Course and Weather Conditions Adjustment
Golf is an outdoor sport and not always played in ideal conditions. The new system will consider the impact of daily course or weather conditions on each golfer’s performance. Such adjustments will be conservative and will only be made when there is clear evidence that an adjustment is warranted.
Accommodating Local Golfing Cultures
It is not our intention to try to force a change on the way that golf is played around the world or to try and remove the variations. The cultural diversity that exists within the game, including different formats of play and degrees of competitiveness, is what makes the sport so universally popular. Through collaboration with National Associations, the goal has been to try to accommodate those cultural differences within a single WHS.
The new system is able to accept both 9-hole and 18-hole score formats for handicapping purposes, where selected by National Associations
The player should submit their score as soon as practicable after completing the round, preferably before midnight on the day of play. This allows for a responsive update of the player’s handicap before the next day they play.