World Handicap System

Purpose of the World Handicap System

The purpose of the WHS is to provide maximum enjoyment for all who play the game by enabling players of any ability, from anywhere in the world, to compete with others on a fair basis.

Handicap Index

Based on your golfing history, the System will allocate you a Handicap Index which is calculated using the average of the best 8 score differentials of your last 20 rounds (see below for further explanation).  If you are a new golfer and do not have a handicap, you will need to submit scores for 54 holes using any combination of 9 or 18 holes.  Your initial Handicap Index will be the lowest score differential minus 2 strokes.  Your Handicap Index will then continue to adjust as you submit more scores (general play “social” scores must be pre-registered).

Course Handicap

Each course will be allocated a Course Rating and Slope Rating (again, see below), and based upon these figures you can find your Course Handicap. A chart will be displayed at each course showing the conversion tables for each tee – simply select the tee you will be playing from, then find your Handicap Index to discover your Course Handicap. Conversion tables for all courses will eventually be available on an app.

Playing Handicap

If you are playing in a competition, you will need to work out your Playing Handicap. The Playing Handicap is determined by applying the calculations to your Course Handicap.

The calculation for Playing Handicap is as follows:

Course Handicap x Handicap Allowance (eg 95% for individual stroke play) = Playing Handicap

Glossary of Terms

Course Rating is the measure of the playing difficulty of a set of tees for a scratch golfer. It assesses two types of challenges; the effective playing length of the course and the obstacles that a player will encounter.

Bogey Rating is the measure of the playing difficulty of a set of tees for a bogey golfer (a handicap of approximately 20 for men and 24 for ladies).

Slope Rating is the number which indicates the relative playing difficulty of a course for bogey golfers, compared to scratch golfers. Knowing the Course Rating and Bogey Rating allows a line to be drawn representing the relationship between the two (hence the term “Slope”). From this the difficulty of the course for all other levels of ability can be deduced.

Slope Rating values range from 55 to 155, and 113 is the slope value indicating “standard” relative difficulty. There is a common misconception that the Slope Rating compares the difficulty of one course with another. IT DOES NOT. It compares the difficulty of a course (playing from a specific set of tees) for the bogey player compared to the scratch player from the same set of tees. It does NOT indicate the relative playing difficulty of that set of tees versus a set of tees at another course.

Handicap Index will be based on the average of the best 8 score differentials from your last 20 rounds. As explained above, if you do not have a handicap, you will need to submit scores for 54 holes which can be a combination of 9 or 18 holes. You will then be provided with an initial Handicap Index, which will be the lowest score differential minus 2 strokes. The calculation will change as you submit more scores. Once you have submitted 20 scores the normal “best 8” rule will apply.

Each time you submit a score it will be counted as 1 of your last 20 and may therefore affect your Handicap Index. The maximum Handicap Index for any player is 54.

To ensure a player has only one Handicap Index, the golfer will nominate a home club. The home club is determined by the player, but for practicality it is recommended that this is where the player typically submits most of their scores.

Course Handicap determines the number of strokes a player will receive for any set of tees on a course. It can be calculated as follows:

Handicap Index x (Slope Rating ÷ 113) = Course Handicap (rounded)

113 is the standard relative difficulty slope value to which all scores are translated.

Score Differential is calculated as follows:

(Adjusted Gross Score – Course Rating) x (113 ÷ Slope Rating) = Score Differential

Adjusted Gross Score – if during an 18 hole round a player fails to complete a hole or records a score higher than Net Double Bogey (NDB), the gross score for that hole shall be adjusted to the NDB for that player using their Course Handicap (similar to now). If a player doesn’t start a hole or leaves the course after playing the minimum number of acceptable holes, the player will be given a score of Net Par for the holes not played (unless fewer than 14 holes have been returned, then the player will be given Net Par +1 on the first hole not played, and Net Par for the remaining holes. It is fairly similar to the treatment of 9 hole scores in CONGU.

Playing Handicap is a stroke allowance that is implemented in order to maintain the integrity of the WHS when used in competition. It allows golfers to compete on a level playing field, regardless of their Handicap Index. The calculation for Playing Handicap is as follows:

Course Handicap x Handicap Allowance (eg 95% for individual stroke play) = Playing Handicap

When playing in competitions, the rules imposed by the club will determine if there are any handicap restrictions.

PCC – playing conditions can cause scores to be abnormally high or low on any given day. The PCC will account for this and is automatically applied to score differentials to better reflect the player’s actual performance.

PCC:
- Is only performed once a day
- Includes all scores (both 9 and 18), from all tee sets
- Uses all acceptable scores from both genders
- Requires at least 8 scores from players with a Handicap Index of 36.0 or below
- Adjustments will be clearly identified in the player’s scoring record for transparency

Exceptional Score Reduction – if a score produces a score differential that is 7.0 strokes or better than your Handicap index at the time the round is played, it is subject to an exceptional score reduction:

- If the score differential is between 7.0 and 9.9 strokes better, your Handicap Index will reduce by 1.0 stroke.
- If the score differential is 10.0 or more strokes better, your Handicap Index will be reduced by 2.0 strokes.

Safeguards – to prevent your Handicap Index from increasing too quickly, every time it is updated, the 8 of 20 calculation is compared to the lowest Handicap Index that you have achieved during the last 365 days:

- If the difference is more than 3.0 strokes, a soft cap will be applied, suppressing the upward movement by 50%.
- A hard cap will restrict upward movement to 5.0 strokes over the lowest Handicap Index.