The new World Handicap System is set to be launched on November 2nd across England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland and will replace the current CONGU handicapping system.
It has been designed to welcome more players, to make golf easier to understand, and to give all golfers a handicap that is portable all around the globe.
Developed by The R&A and the USGA, it combines the Rules of Handicapping and the Course Rating System and will replace the six different systems currently used by over 15 million golfers in more than 80 countries.
Why has it been created?
The new WHS has been created to make it easier for golfers to obtain and maintain a Handicap Index.
It strives to make the game of golf a more inclusive and equitable sport by allowing players to use their Handicap Index on any course around the world and to compete, or play recreationally, regardless of where they play.
How does it work?
All players who currently hold a CONGU handicap will automatically receive a WHS Handicap Index.
WHS software will automatically create a new Handicap Index by calculating the average of the best eight scores from a player’s last 20 rounds.
For those new to the sport, they will need to submit scorecards totaling 54 holes to their golf club’s Handicap Committee (using any combination of 9 and 18 holes). From there, an initial Handicap Index will be created, which will then be transformed into a fully developed Handicap Index once 20 scores have been submitted.
What Elements make up the New WHS?
Golfers will consider the Handicap Index to be the most important element of the WHS. A Handicap Index is calculated from the best eight scores from a player’s last 20 rounds.
As a new score is submitted, a player’s Handicap Index will automatically update at the end of the day’s play to the most recent 20 scores and will be ready to use the following day. The maximum possible Handicap Index is 54, and all players must be a member of a golf club to obtain and use one.
A Soft Cap and Hard Cap will be implemented to limit any extreme upward movement of a player’s Handicap within a 365-day period. The Soft cap will suppress the movement by 50% after a three strokes increase over a player’s Low Handicap Index, whilst the Hard Cap restricts movement on five shots over the Low Handicap Index to ensure any temporary loss of form does not cause the Handicap Index to move too far away from a player’s actual ability.
Course Rating & Bogey Rating
Course Rating will be used to measure the playing difficulty of a golf course and will measure how many strokes a Scratch Golfer (a player who can play to a Course Handicap of zero on all rated golf courses) should take on any given course.
It is able to do so by assessing the two main types of challenges:
The playing length of the course
The obstacles that a player will encounter (e.g. size of green and hazards)
Bogey Rating is the measure of playing difficulty for a Bogey Golfer (a player who has a Course Handicap of approx. 20 for a male and 24 for a female). Knowing these two ratings allows the WHS to assess the difficulty of the course for all other levels and to produce a Slope Rating for each set of tees which allows golfers to work out how many strokes they will receive on any given course around the world.
Slope Rating is the number which indicates the relative playing difficulty of a course from the same set of tees for a Bogey Golfer, compared to Scratch Golfers.
The use of Slope allows for a player’s Handicap Index to be portable from course to course and country to country. It also enables acceptable scores from any rated golf course in the world to be submitted for a player’s handicap purposes.
113 is the Slope Rating value where all players play from their Handicap Index (i.e. the course is as equally hard for both Scratch and Bogey players).
Before every round, a player must convert their Handicap Index into a Course Handicap as it determines the number of strokes a player will receive for any set of tees on a course.
Golfers simply have to choose the tees they are playing off that day, and cross-reference their Handicap Index on the Course & Slope Rating table to find their Course Handicap. It’s as simple as that!
England Golf will provide Course & Slope Rating tables to all golf clubs that will be positioned in locations around the club to make it simple for golfers to find prior to their round.
What scores/formats will be acceptable for submission?
In order for a player to submit a score towards their WHS, it must be played:
In accordance with The Rules of Golf
In an authorized format of play
Over a minimum number of 10 holes
With at least one other person
On a course with a current Course Rating and Slope Rating
All pre-registered general play ‘social’ scores and all individual competition rounds, both 9 and 18 holes, whether home or away, can be submitted for handicap purposes.
Player’s who try to submit scorecards played from four ball better ball formats or other match-play events will not be accepted for handicap purposes.
Where to find out more about the WHS?
A WHS toolkit has also been sent to all golf clubs in England, which contains a number of resources that can be downloaded and used as part of the educational process.
England Golf have also unveiled a new educational campaign ‘Know the Score’ that is designed to give golf clubs the best possible opportunity to educate their members about the new system. It provides a consistent message that golfers can begin to recognize and associate with the WHS.
For more information about the WHS, visit englandgolf.org/whs or follow England Golf on social media: