Reviewing and Adjusting a Player’s Handicap Index
The WHS has been 10 years in its development, based on the USGA system that has been in use for over 50 years, it will be an excellent system for managing handicaps.
I say ‘will’ because although it launched in GB&I in November 2020, because of the COVID-19 Pandemic it really didn’t get up and running until July 2021, which means it has only been running for 8-9 months.
Because it is an average-based system it works best the more data input it has; because it has only been running for a short period of time, the data for GB&I is limited and so some anomalies with players’ Handicap Indexes may occur. Given time these anomalies should be resolved or sort themselves out naturally.
It is not helped, in GB&I, by players not being required to submit all scores and so we must put up with these anomalies until the System has been running for a year or two.
Unfortunately, some Committees are trying to adjust Handicap Indexes for what they see with players who win competitions regularly. This is not the way to go about it because, in doing this frequently and only for a few players, they are manipulating the system for their own devices and could be providing players with a Handicap Index that may not be an accurate representation of their current playing ability.
Committees must also be aware that any review of Handicap Indexes must also consider any player whose Playing Ability may be declining.
Perhaps Committees would spend their time better in encouraging players to submit more scores, which would include General Play scores as well as ‘qualifying’ competition scores.
Under the WHS, there is a responsibility for your Handicap Committee to ensure that players’ allocated Handicap Indexes correctly represent their current level of playing ability. They must perform an Annual Review every year between 1st October and 31st March.
However, at any time that they feel, or are informed, that your Handicap Index may be incorrect, often indicated by your rapid improvement or decline in performance in competitions, then they can conduct a review of your Handicap Index before the Annual Review.
The circumstances under which a Committee may review your Handicap Index are outlined under Rule 7 of the Rules of Handicapping and there is a correct procedure for reviewing and adjusting your Handicap Index which must be followed and is given in Appendix D of the Rules of Handicapping.
All adjustments must be made through the WHS Platform.
ADJUSTING A HANDICAP INDEX
If your Handicap Index does not reflect your demonstrated playing ability your Handicap Committee should conduct a handicap review. Using all available evidence, including handicap software and reporting for analysis, the Handicap Committee may adjust or freeze your Handicap Index. Your Handicap Committee should continue to monitor your scoring record and further adjust the Handicap Index if needed. An adjustment to your Handicap Index must be, at minimum, a one stroke difference from their current Handicap Index. This adjustment must not last for longer than a one-year period. The Handicap Index will be identified with the letter “M” (e.g., 16.3M).
ADJUSTING A LOW HANDICAP INDEX
When your Handicap Index has been adjusted or frozen by your Handicap Committee, it may impact your Low Handicap Index value, thus potentially triggering a soft cap or hard cap. Your Handicap Committee should review and consider resetting your Low Handicap Index to a new value unless a lower Handicap Index value becomes eligible. An adjustment to your Low Handicap Index must be, at minimum, a one stroke difference from your current Low Handicap Index. This adjustment must not last for longer than a one-year period. Your Handicap Committee should continue to monitor your scoring record and further adjust the Low Handicap Index value if needed. An adjusted Low Handicap Index will be identified with the letter “M” (e.g., 15.0M)
Clicking on the links below will take you to the relevant references in the Rules of Handicapping:
England Golf have also produced a Guide to Conducting a Handicap Review, which you can read below or download a copy by clicking on the Download Button.