WHS – Do I Record on My Scorecard, the Number of Strokes Taken Based on My Course Handicap or My Playing Handicap?

WHS – Do I Record on My Scorecard, the Number of Strokes Taken Based on My Course Handicap or My Playing Handicap?

Well while we, in GB&I, find ourselves in Golf Lockdown again, some golf is being played around the world and I am receiving both Rules of Golf and World Handicap System queries, which is why I have not posted anything yet on Mixed Tee Competitions as promised.

While England Golf struggles with teething problems over the introduction of the WHS the 4-week lockdown may give them some respite and time to sort things out before we get back to playing golf with a vengeance.

I recently received a query from a reader to which I could provide a straight forward answer but which also raised a point with the New World Handicap System that many players may not be aware.

Unlike the previous CONGU Qualifying Rounds, which were played off Full Handicap, under the the WHS there are occasions when acceptable rounds will be played off a percentage of a Course Handicap and you must be aware of both your Course Handicap and your Playing Handicap  in the same round so that you ‘do not pick up before you run out of strokes, according to your Course Handicap’

Now this goes against the teachings of improving the Pace of Play, but is a necessary action under the WHS when competitions are being played for Handicap purposes.

The R&A will no doubt have to reconsider Rule 21 in the light of the WHS and remove the wording ‘To help pace of play, players are encouraged to stop playing a hole when their score will result in zero points.’ for Stableford Formats and ‘To help pace of play, players are encouraged to stop playing a hole when their formats. score has reached the maximum’, for Maximum Score formats.

All will, I hope be revealed below.

The question was:

‘In a Stableford qualifying competition, do I record on my card, the number of strokes taken based on my course handicap or my playing handicap for the competition?’

My answer was:

You record your Gross Score for each hole, and you should base it on your Course Handicap not your Playing Handicap for the reasons which I will give below.

  1. Under the Rules of Golf ,you must record your gross score for each hole, whatever the competition format, it is the score that you enter into your Golf Club’s Handicap Computer.

The Course Handicap, calculated from your Handicap Index and your Course’s Slope Rating, replaces your CONGU Handicap, and could be considered to be one and the same. It is this Handicap that dictates if any Adjustments to Hole scores need to be made for Handicap purposes.

The Playing Handicap is your Handicap for a particular competition depending on the format being played and is the number of strokes you actually receive for that round and is the one you use, in the case of a Stableford Competition, to calculate your points for each hole and the one that your Club’s Handicap System will use to calculate your points for each hole for a competition result.

  1. Under the new World Handicap System, there are a couple of points that you need to be aware of that can influence your play of a hole, especially if you think you are unable to score on a particular hole and decide to pick your ball up.
  • Your Playing Handicap may be a percentage of your Course Handicap and not its full value, e.g. in an Individual Stableford your Playing Handicap will be reduced to 95%.
  • For scores being submitted for Handicap Purposes, your Adjusted Gross Score for a competition is used in your Handicap Index calculation. There is a maximum score that can be accepted for each hole this is a Net Double Bogey, and this is applied by the WHS, when you submit your score, based on your Course Handicap.
  • If you fail to score on a hole or complete the play of a hole the WHS will award you a Net Double Bogey for that hole.

This last point is an important one because you must ensure that by having a Net Double Bogey recorded for not completing the hole does not award you a score higher than if you had completed the hole.

This is relevant especially when a Handicap Allowance for a particular format reduces your Playing Handicap or a Committee sets a Maximum Score for each hole.

An example would probably better illustrate my point.

Caroline has a Handicap Index of 20.1

She is playing an Individual Stableford Competition on her home course from the Red Tees which have a Course Rating of 72.8, a Par of 72 and a Slope Rating of 126

Caroline’s Course Handicap (in GB&I) is: 22

The Handicap Allowance for an Individual Stableford is 95% which adjusts her Playing Handicap to: 21

From this Playing Handicap Caroline will receive one stroke on holes with Stroke Index 4 -18 and two strokes on each of holes with Stroke Index 1, 2 and 3.

Caroline is playing well but on Hole 6, a Par 4 with Stroke Index 4, where she receives 1 stroke in this competition, she runs into a bit of trouble and after just missing a putt for a 6, decides to pick up and record a 0 at that hole, because she is out of shots for that hole according to her Playing Handicap.

Hole 6 is a hole on which she would in general play have received 2 strokes, but off 95% of her Course Handicap now only receives 1 Stroke.

This would be all right for the result of the competition, but for Handicap Purposes the WHS would record a Net Double Bogey of 8 for her not completing play of the hole, working from her Course Handicap.

This would in fact be one more stroke than if she had putted out and completed play of the hole.

It would therefore have been better for Caroline to putt out and record a 7, recording one stroke less for handicap purposes.

Many players will not fully appreciate the importance of continuing beyond the maximum hole score to reach their NDB score on a given hole.

So remember  in England when playing Stableford or Maximum Score Formats you need to keep an eye on your scoring against your Course Handicap and not just your Playing Handicap or the Maximum Score for a Hole.

Think before you pick up and record a Net Double Bogey or a Zero on your scorecard.

This can be a little confusing to begin with, but just keep your wits about you.

This situation obviously does not occur in General Play, when no Handicap Allowances apply and  you are playing off your Course Handicap

Have fun and

Enjoy your golf as soon as it is allowed

Best wishes and stay safe


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