WHS 2020 – How to Use Your Handicap Index When Playing a Round of Golf

How to Use Your Handicap Index When Playing a Round of Golf

Remember! Remember! The Second of November!

The introduction of the World Handicap System (WHS) in GB&I is only a few days away.

Are yoiu ready?

By now you will have received your Handicap Index, and, having got over the shock, no doubt booked to play a round of golf on, or after, Monday 2 November.

If you have not received your Handicap Index, please CLICK HERE to find out how you can find your Handicap Index.

What do you do now?


Decide what type of round you will be playing and, for Handicapping purposes, understand what Acceptable Scores are.

    • All 9-hole and 18-hole Singles Competition Rounds in Authorised Formats must be submitted for handicap purposes, subject to the competition being played to the Rules of Golf and over the measured length of the course
    • General Play (Social Rounds) may be submitted but must be pre-registered according to your Club’s Pre-registration Procedure. This also includes such play as Roll-ups and Swindles etc. and can include away games if you so wish.
    • Scores from team competitions and match play will not be acceptable in England initially, although this may change based on feedback from other jurisdictions that include those format
    • Pre-register your round on the day you are playing

Because the WHS is an averaging system, the more scores you submit the more accurate your Handicap Index will be.

Follow the guidelines of England Golf Know your Score and use HCP.

This translates to:

Handicap Index: Know your Handicap Index. This is the replacement to your current Handicap and represents your ability to play a Neutral Course which has a Slope of 113.

It is calculated in the same way for every golfer worldwide and so is comparable between golfers.

It is NOT the handicap that you will play off, but it is the ‘Handicap’ that you enter a competition with.

Course Handicap: This is the handicap that your Handicap Index is converted to, in order to provide you with a handicap that is more suited to your playing your chosen course.

If the club competition software is not available consult the Course Handicap charts relevant to the tees being used. These should be prominently displayed in your Clubhouse or ProShop.

This Course Handicap will be the Handicap that you will play off for General Play Rounds (Social)

Playing Handicap: If you are playing in a Club Competition in a particular format, calculate your Playing Handicap by applying the Handicap Allowance (see the table below), for that format.

Your Course Handicap will need to be converted to a Playing Handicap, by applying a Handicap Allowance according to the Competition Format you will be playing.

The various Handicap Allowances can be seen in the table below.

File Name: WHS-Handicap-Allowances.pdf

If you would like to download a copy of the Handicap Allowance Table, please click on a Download Button below:

It is hoped that, if you are entering a Club Competition e.g. a Monthly Medal or Stableford, that you will be pre-registered for the competition and your Course Handicap and Playing Handicap will have been calculated and show on your Club’s Computer.

Finally, I would like to add an S to the HCP, which stands for Scoring and Submitting a Score.

Scoring and Submitting a Score:

    • Ensure that your Course Handicap is entered on your card, and the chosen Tee designated to avoid Disqualification.
    • Ensure Scorecard signed by a Marker (Not necessary during COVID-19 Restrictions)
    • After the round, return the card as directed. Submit your score in accordance with Club procedures as soon as possible after you have completed your round.
    • Enter your Gross Score on the Club Competition Computer for each hole, hole by hole
    • If a hole is STARTED BUT NOT COMPLETED in Stableford, Par or Maximum Score formats. For handicap purposes net double bogey will be added to the score
    • If a hole is NOT STARTED for a valid reason net par will be added
    • Blanks/dashes no longer acceptable on Score Cards.
    • All 9 holes must be played or started for a 9-hole score to be acceptable for handicap purposes
    • A minimum of 10 holes must be played or started for an 18-hole score to be acceptable for handicap purposes
    • If you did not play a hole for a valid reason, you should mark the hole as ‘not played’ (NP).

Valid reasons for not playing a hole include:

    • Failing light or bad weather
    • Player injury or illness
    • A hole being declared out of play by the Committee for maintenance or reconstruction purposes

Invalid reasons for not playing a hole include:

    • Not playing a hole for the purpose of gaining a scoring advantage (high or low)

If you fail to return a scorecard your Handicap Committee may impose a penalty or, if a score can be retrieved, enter a Penalty Score for your round. NRs are not acceptable.

The prompt submission of your score is important as it will enable:

    • Your score to be included in the daily PLAYING CONDITIONS CALCULATION


    • Your Handicap Index to be UPDATED READY FOR YOUR NEXT ROUND

Handicap decreases or increases will not be calculated along with the competition results

Scores will be uploaded to a new platform designated by each national golf federation, for adjustment after midnight.

Your Handicap Index will be recalculated using the Playing Condition Calculation (previously CSS) at the end of every day you play

Your new Handicap Index can be viewed early next day either on the Golf Ireland website or available app.

Your correct Handicap Index will appear on the competition software in your Home Club when you enter a competition.

So, relax and enjoy your golf

Play as many rounds as you can, but remember:

Stay Safe and Play Safe

Best wishes


PS: My next post will contain details on Mixed Tee Competitions

PPS: From Monday 9 November 2020, because the WHS will be the Official Handicapping System, all references to the CONGU Unified Handicap System (UHS) will be removed from the My Golf Website.

11 Replies to “WHS 2020 – How to Use Your Handicap Index When Playing a Round of Golf”

  1. What a load of Tosh
    Years ago many clever people decided on a handicap of a maximum 24 with 3/4 of a difference on match play giving 1 extra stroke each hole. When I started playing golf I had to play off a maximum of 18 to play in a club competition.
    Why not just put everyone’s name in a draw and decide who wins by pulling out a name before a stroke is played.
    This new system has nothing to do with improving the game for the future but everything to do with allowing people to practice the game on a golf course rather than learn some etiquette and practice in the practice area …
    Where does this all end 6 hour rounds and an average handicap of 48.. That would Kill the game off !!!

    1. Absolutely agree. I like the new system but at my club new members have a course handicap of 66 !!! Is there any point in my entering a competition???

      1. You should not be expected to compete against such Handicaps, does your Club not employ Divisions/Flights within competitions or limited Handicaps.
        Would it not be better for them to consider running separate competitions for those Handicappers, perhaps 9-hole and with their own trophies?

  2. This 95% rule is ludicrous. My handicap index is 9.4 which means I should get 11 off whites on my course. So England Golf introduced a new handicap system and then want you to play off 95%, which means a person with a 7.8index will get exactly the same number of strokes as I do off 9.4 almost 2 strokes more.
    I’m penalised for what reason? Obviously to allow better golfers to win more.
    This whole debacle is insane why have a course handicap if you’re not going to abide by it. I’m not the only golfer at my club that thinks this new system is absolutely bonkers. People now need a degree in maths to figure out what’s going on.

  3. Who can mark my scorecard? Our club is telling us that only another member with a handicap can do so.
    In the article you say no marker necessary under covid. Does this mean that I can currently play a solo round and submit to WHS as long as I pre register as a general play card?
    I often play away courses with players with no handicap yet…can they mark my card.

    Please clarify, I know many people have similar issues.

    1. I think you have been misinterpreting the information, all scores to be acceptable must be played in company with another individual and attested by an independent individual, your playing partner or someone else; it is only under the COVID-19 Precautions that the physical marking or confirmation of a score is not necessary, but it must be replaced by a method accepted by the course you are playing, or your home Club.

      You cannot submit a score recorded when you are playing alone.

      Under Rule of Handicapping 4.4 a Club may insist that the marker must be a person acceptable to the Handicap Committee.

      This is not always common and is often only used for the allocation a new handicap.

      An acceptable score:

      A score is acceptable for handicap purposes if the round has been played:
      (i) In an authorized format of play (see Rule 2.1a) over at least the minimum number of holes required for either a 9-hole or an 18-hole score to be acceptable (see Rule 2.2),
      (ii) In the company of at least one other person, who may also act as a marker (subject to satisfying any other requirements of the Rules of Golf),
      (iii) By the Rules of Golf (see Rule 2.1b)
      (iv) On a golf course with a current Course Rating and Slope Rating, where length and normal playing difficulty is maintained at a consistent level (see Appendix G),
      (v) On a golf course during its active season. In addition, the player’s score must always be certified in accordance with the Rules of Handicapping (see Rule 4.4). If one or more of the requirements set out above is not met, the score is not acceptable for handicap purposes.

      Rules of Handicapping 4.4 Certification of a Score

      A score submitted for handicap purposes must be:
      (i) Certified by the marker (who keeps the player’s score) in accordance with the Rules of Golf (see Rule 3.3b of Rules of Golf);* and
      (ii) Made available for peer review as soon as possible after completion of the round. To facilitate the process of peer review:
      (iii) The player, or someone authorised by the player, must submit their score as soon as possible after completion of their round, and l The Handicap Committee should ensure a submitted score is posted to the player’s scoring record as soon as possible.

      Rule 4 *The marker and the player must comply with the specified responsibilities under the Rules of Golf when certifying a player’s score (see Rule 3.3b of the Rules of Golf).

      The marker must be a person acceptable to the Handicap Committee.

      Under the CONGU Temporary changes to the Rules of Golf because of the COVID_19 Pandemic

      It is not necessary to have a marker physically certify the player’s hole scores, but some form of verbal certification should take place.

      All Handicap Software should now have a facility for recording the name or digital signature of a marker.

    2. It doesn’t say no marker is necessary – it says it’s not necessary to have your marker sign your card! You still have to have a marker in line with golf rules but don’t swap cards!

  4. If you score say 15 on a par 5 hole in a stroke play competition , I assume the net double bogey adjustment does not apply since this would obviously mean that you could win the competition with your score on that Hole being reduced to 8 ? Also is there still a stableford adjustment after every score submitted in a stroke play competition ?

    1. Net Double Bogey adjustment is for Handicap Purposes only see Rules of Handicapping Definitions:

      Net Double Bogey
      A score equal to the par of a hole plus two strokes and adjusted for any handicap strokes applied on that hole. A net double bogey is a player’s maximum hole score for handicap purposes (see Rule 3.1).

      There has therefore been no change for GB&I from the previous CONGU Universal Handicapping System

  5. Please can you advise on FinalCompetition Results calculation.
    Is the 95% allowance handicap, for playing handicap ?.
    A.. Does it revert to 100% when submitted to the WHS.For stroke play or stableford.
    Quiery is on the comp day, we have a 3 over handicap off 95% winning in the club house, only to find that the WHS later ,alters the player to 4 over ,on 100% .Similary in stableford 38 points then later 37 points..
    Sorry new handicap secretary, this year..It all very confusing.

    1. Yes, reverts back to Course Handicap for Handicap purposes.

      A Playing Handicap is purely used in Competitions and is for equity.

      The Playing Handicap calculation takes into account the Handicap Allowance for a particular format and any Handicap Adjustments when playing from Mixed Tees.
      It determines the number of strokes each player gives or receives, to ensure that all players can enjoy a fair and equal game when playing with or competing against one another and provides an equitable way to determine a competition winner and give every entrant a fair chance of coming in the top 10% of the competition.

      The Course Handicap is used for Handicap Index purposes.

      It is used to determine the number of strokes that a player receives (or gives) on any golf course and for the correct application of net par and net double bogey adjustments.

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