World Handicap System

World Handicap System

The idea for a new, unified system was conceived by the USGA and The R&A and developed following an extensive review of systems administered by six existing handicapping authorities – Golf Australia, the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) in Great Britain and Ireland, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA), the Argentine Golf Association (AAG) and the United States Golf Association (USGA).

The new system will feature the following:

  • Flexibility in formats of play, allowing both competitive and recreational rounds to count for handicap purposes and ensuring a golfer’s handicap is more reflective of potential ability.
  • A minimal number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap; a recommendation that the number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap be 54 holes from any combination of 18-hole and 9-hole rounds, but with some discretion available for handicapping authorities or National Associations to set a different minimum within their own jurisdiction.
  • A consistent handicap that is portable from course to course and country to country through worldwide use of the USGA Course and Slope Rating System, already successfully used in more than 80 countries.
  • An average-based calculation of a handicap, taken from the best eight out of the last 20 scores and factoring in memory of previous demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control.
  • A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions might have on a player’s performance each day.
  • Daily handicap revisions, taking account of the course and weather conditions calculation.
  • A limit of Net Double Bogey on the maximum hole score (for handicapping purposes only).
  • A maximum handicap limit of 54.0, regardless of gender, to encourage more golfers to measure and track their performance to increase their enjoyment of the game.

Quantitative research was conducted in 15 countries around the world, through which 76 percent of the 52,000 respondents voiced their support for a World Handicap System, 22 percent were willing to consider its benefits, and only 2% were opposed. This was followed by a series of focus groups, in which more than 300 golf administrators and golfers from different regions around the world offered extensive feedback on the features of the proposed new system.

This feedback has helped shape the WHS, which has been developed by the USGA and The R&A with support from each handicapping authority as well as the Japan Golf Association and Golf Canada.

What is the World Handicap System (WHS)?

The World Handicap System (WHS) aims to bring six different handicap systems together into a single set of Rules for Handicapping, enabling golfers of different abilities to play and compete on a fair and equal basis, no matter how or where they play. While the six existing handicap systems have generally worked very well locally, on a global basis, their different characteristics have sometimes resulted in inconsistency, with players of the same ability ending up with slightly different handicaps. This has sometimes resulted in unnecessary difficulties and challenges for golfers competing in handicap events or for tournament administrators. A single WHS will pave the way to consistency and portability.

 What does this mean for the sport?

The WHS initiative has provided an opportunity for all existing handicapping authorities to collaborate; to consider the best features within each of the current systems and create a system which is modern and relevant for both the way the sport is played today around the world and how it may be developed in the future. The WHS is designed to be inclusive, easy to understand and implement, without sacrificing accuracy or integrity. Ultimately, this should help provide a solid foundation to the sport, for everyone from beginners to the experienced, from the recreational to the competitive, thereby supporting the development of the sport through increased participation. The administration and oversight of handicapping will continue to be the responsibility of each handicapping authority and National Association, thus helping to ensure the credibility of the system at the local level. These organizations will also have the discretion to tailor the system to fit their own golfing culture. For example, the WHS will offer a broad range of formats that are acceptable for handicap purposes, with some form of corroboration, and handicapping authorities and National Associations will have discretion to select from that range to both support their local golfing culture as well as encouraging golfers to post as many scores as possible. Despite these responsibilities, moving from six different systems to one will almost certainly lead to other efficiencies, allowing National Associations more opportunity to focus their resources on golf development and strategic initiatives to support the sport within their jurisdiction. It would also provide the opportunity to evaluate de-personal golfing data to help monitor the health of the game.

 Why now?

Golf is a global sport, with a single set of playing Rules, a single set of equipment Rules and a single set of Rules of Amateur Status. The missing link is handicapping, and after significant engagement and collaboration with the existing handicapping authorities and National Associations, it has been agreed that the time is right to bring the different handicap systems together.

World Handicap system – for golfers https://youtu.be/ejE58KO-7Sg