World Handicap System 2020 – FAQs

England Golf World Handicap System FAQs.

Is my handicap going to change (significantly)?



The amount your handicap may change by depends on a number of factors: consistency and frequency of play for example. During testing we have found most players new handicap index will be within 1 stroke of their current CONGU handicap.
What is the difference between a Supplementary Score and a Preregistered score? They are the same thing, just a new name.

They will be known as ‘social or recreational’ scores.

How do I return my score at home?

From Abroad?

Who is responsible for this, and do I need to follow it up?

It is hoped that the technology will be in place to help with the posting of scores at the venue at which you play. This would be automatically processed.
How does the new system work?



The new World Handicap System will be averaged based, using the best 8 of the last 20 scores in your record.
How are handicaps allocated?


A player will still need to return 54 holes worth of scores to be allocated an initial Handicap Index.


How Do I get a World Handicap Index? Handicap Indexes are only available to those players who are playing members at an affiliated club.

Once you have found a club to join you can be allocated a Handicap Index over 54 holes if you are new to golf or if a returning player it may be that we can calculate an initial World Handicap Index from your previous CONGU record.

Once I have been given a handicap index what happens as I don’t have 20 scores yet? Following your first 54 holes worth of scores your handicap index will be allocated, then each time you add a new score it will be recalculated using an adjusted calculation to give you an Index equivalent to that of the Best 8 from 20 principle.  Further information will follow later in the year.
How long do I have to submit my first 3 cards or 54 holes for Initial Handicap Allocation? Will it still be a mix of 9 and 18 holes and does it still have to be at my home club?


A new player has no time limit to return the first 54 holes worth of scores, but they won’t hold a handicap index during this time.

Any combination is acceptable over 9 or 18 holes.  However, it will be up to your home club if they will accept scores from another venue for initial allocation.


If I can enter one of my first cards for initial handicap allocation at another club, will it still need to be certified as having been done correctly by the other club? Do all cards for IHA have to be played at the same club and do they have to be played off the same tee? Yes: all cards will need to be checked and signed by another member.

This will be up to your home club.  They will state which courses they are willing to accept. The tee selection will be up to the

player, but we would recommended new golfers use a forward tee for initial allocation.

How do I move clubs on the new system? You need to inform your current home club that you are moving to a new club so they can change your status; in the same way as a player does now. A player can only have one `Home Club` who will manage and maintain their handicap.
How do I appeal?

Will the process be the same?

The process won’t change.   You can still appeal any decision made by the handicap committee, via the England Golf Appeals process.
How long do my 20 scores last on the new system; and how long do they last if I have less than 20 scores? Scores will not expire.  However, to maintain an accurate handicap it is recommended that players should return at least 20 scores over a 2 year period. Your handicap will only be valid if you are a member of an affiliated golf club.
If I am playing a 4BBB and I am the only player who wants to pre-register a score, how will this work? At first scores played in a 4BBB will not be accepted; only singles competitions and social scores.
Will the WHS integrate with existing software like How Did I Do? We will be working with the ISVs to make the technology work.
How do I register and return away scores?


Through the Sign-in system at the club you are visiting, you will be able to register before play and submit your scores on your return to the clubhouse.
How does my scorecard get signed if I am going to play abroad and input the score online? As the technology is developed we anticipate some form of digital signature from your playing partner.
Where do I find the Slope Rating for a Course? The Course and Slope ratings for any course will be displayed at the club: usually in the proshop or by the first tee/starter’s box.  It will also be available on the England Golf website
Can my handicap lapse?


No, as long as you retain membership of an affiliated golf club designated to manage and maintain your handicap, your handicap will remain valid.
Will there be an App for the submission of scores? It is hoped that in time an app will be available; but initially scores will be submitted at the club you have played.
Will the term “handicap” disappear? No.
What will happen to my existing playing history when WHS comes into effect? The scores you currently have in your record will be used to calculate your new WHS.
Will I be given a new CDH number? It is highly unlikely that CDH number will be reissued. This information will be released as soon as possible.
Will I be able to play off any tee? You will be able to return scores from any tee that has a course and slope rating for your gender.


Do I have to submit every score for every round I play? No:  you will have to submit all singles competition scores, and you will have the choice to submit social/recreational scores. All scores will have to be preregistered.
Can I submit scores from Society Golf? Yes, if playing a measured, rated golf course and under the rules of Golf, and the score has been attested in the correct manner.
Will buffer zones still exist? Buffer zones will not be part of the World Handicap System.
Will there still be competition status handicaps? No.  Committees will govern eligibility for entry in the Conditions of Competition.
Will I enter competitions based on my Handicap Index or my course handicap?


Competition entry (eligibility) will be based on your handicap index.


If there is a high slope rating at the competition club and I play at a course with a low slope rating, could the difference be considerable. Your handicap will change depending on the slope rating of the course: but this is done against a slope rating of 113, not the difference between courses.
Will there still be categories of players? No
Will I have a home handicap? No, You will have a handicap index which is portable, and will be adjusted using the course rating and slope rating of any set of tees, played at any club. However you will have to designate a home club to manage and maintain your handicap.
What is a slope rating? Slope rating is the difference between the course rating for a ‘scratch’ golfer and the course rating for a ‘bogey’ golfer multiplied by a factor. The Slope rating indicates the difficulty of a golf course for the ‘bogey’ golfer relative to the scratch player.
What is an acceptable score? This is the same as the current ‘qualifying’ score.  An acceptable score will be any singles competition score and any preregistered social score.
What formats are acceptable for competition scores? Singles – Medal, Stableford, par/bogey.
If a competition is declared noncompetition, will I be able to pre-register a score for the same event? There will not be any non-competition scores.

If a competition is played under the Rules of Golf, then the score must returned.

How does the calculation for working out your Handicap Index work? For a complete handicap record (20 scores), your handicap index will be the average of your best 8 scores.
What happens to your handicap if you are not a member of a club? Your handicap can only be maintained and used if you are a club member.
When will I as a golfer know what my Handicap Index will be? The aim is to show all members their new handicap index towards the end 2019 season, alongside their exact CONGU handicap.
How can the playing field be level if we do not accept 4BBB as acceptable scores, and yet other countries do? In the initial transition phase all countries will have some flexibility in order to reflect their own playing culture:  but it is hoped that, over time, all formats will be acceptable for posting.


Scores should be entered as soon as possible. What would happen if a score is not returned ASAP, and what time will be allowed? I am thinking not just of the tardiness of players but also technical problems with computers, phone lines, power cuts, etc. Scores should be entered before the end of the day (approx.midnight (local time).   Any scores not entered before that time will still be acceptable, but will not be used as part of the CCA calculation.  However, the CCA calculated for the day of play will be retrospectively applied, when your score is posted.
How do the playing conditions affect the score? The System includes a playing conditions adjustment, known as a Course

Conditions Adjustment, and this will look at how players have performed compared to their expected performance on that golf course.  It is similar to our current CSS.

Will there still be a playing season? Clubs may have a recognised playing season; but as long as the Course is playing to its measured length, and the round is played by the Rules of Golf players should be able to return scores all year round.
What about preferred lies, temporary greens etc., will they still be in use and will you still be able to run competitions whilst they are in force? This is still being discussed but it is possible that similar rules to CONGU will be in use.
What restrictions will you be able to place on handicaps for club competitions? As with any competition, the Committee can have a set of Competition Conditions which may include a handicap limit. However, all players must have the opportunity to access competition golf.
Will your handicap change over 36 hole events? In an event that is played over 1 day or 2 consecutive days, it is recommended that no change is made to a player’s handicap during the event, for competition administration purposes.
Will there still be an Annual Review? Yes: the annual review will still be an important part of the new system.
What is the recommended minimum number of cards per year that should be submitted to maintain an accurate handicap index? The more scores submitted the more accurate the index becomes in reflecting a player’s potential ability.
What is classed as a competition?

How do I know which cards I can add to a playing history?

Any type of event, that is organised and that is played by the Rules of Golf, is classed as a competition.
Will we still need a Handicap Committee and Handicap Secretary? Yes: a club will still need to appoint a Handicap Committee to manage and maintain members handicaps e.g. carry out handicap reviews, adjust handicaps where necessary, and ensure that scores are being submitted.
Will we need to buy new software? No: the software that is currently in use will be adapted to function with the new system.  Some of the interfaces may change, but you will still need to use a licenced software provider.


When will this all come in to use? We need to get more scorecards printed. The aim is to have this in place in the first quarter of 2020, There will be no requirement to have new scorecards printed for the launch: however, when you do get them printed in the future you will need some additional information on them; such as the Course Rating to a decimal point (replacement for SSS) and the Slope Rating.
Is the new system mandatory? Yes: The World Handicap System will replace the Current CONGU system, which will no longer be maintained or supported.
What happens if my club has not been rated under the USGA system? We are currently working to rate as many courses as possible: but with over 1800 courses in England, this is a big task.  We are working with the USGA in the hope that any club which has not been rated by August 2019 can be issued with a provisional rating.
How do we process NR’s? NRs will be processed in a similar way that they are now. Further details will follow.
What is the playing handicap and what does it consist of? The playing handicap will be the player’s course handicap (handicap index adjusted by course rating and slope rating), and any handicap allowances.
How is the CCA calculated if only one player enters a competition or submits a “casual” score? A Course Conditions Adjustment can only be calculated if at least 8 scores from players with fully developed handicap indexes have been returned on that day.
Will there be the equivalent of the 2 CSS’s calculated for home/away players? No.
When will my club receive the Course Rating to one decimal place, Slope Rating and Course Handicap Conversion tables? These will be issued during 2019.
How will the Annual Review Work? In a very similar way to our current system.
Will a player still need to return their scorecards if they are entering their scores online? Initially Yes, these need to be returned to your home club so that scores can be verified.
Will the roles and responsibilities of Club and County personnel change? If so will they be available in a written format? The roles and responsibilities for National Unions, Counties, Clubs and Players are currently being written.
Is the manual when written going to provide strong guidance for us as a club?

The word MUST instead of SHOULD.

The manual will follow a similar format to the new Rules of Golf.
Is it a club’s responsibility to ensure that the course is set up for handicap purposes? Yes.
Does the averaging system start straight away or do you wait until 20 scores are available on a playing history? No:  once a player is allocated an index based on 54 holes, the system will start to build the record based on an adjusted average relative to the number of scores that have been submitted.This continues until a fully developed handicap with 20 scores on record is achieved.


How are away cards verified at an away club? Scores should be posted at the venue played and returned to your home club to ensure the score is properly recorded and signed.   Not every card will need to be checked, but a random sample may be required.
What happens if a player pre-registers a round for handicapping purposes but fails to return a card? The score will be classed as a no return. However should the score, be known, will be posted by the Committee. If unknown, the Committee has discretion to apply a penalty score if the no return was for the purposes of manipulating a handicap.


Can random cards that have not been pre-registered be submitted for handicap purposes? No:  all cards that are not from competitions must be pre-registered.
Will updates be automatic or will clubs have to press the button to draw down scores? It is hoped these will be automatic, but this will depend on the technology development.
When is midnight for updates? Is it GMT? Updates will happen at a set time in each time zone; likely to be post-midnight (local time)
If a player is a member of two clubs, but in different Countries, do they have to nominate a home Country? The player’s home club would be where he/she has permanent residence, and plays the majority of his/her golf.
Will there be guidance for clubs on the positioning of information? Yes:  guidance and support will be provided.
When will we receive the information on slope ratings and conversions to course handicaps? During 2019, if there is a need to get this sooner please speak to your County.
Does a player still need a home club? Yes.
How does the Handicap Index apply in match play situations? In match play the handicap index will be Slope adjusted to create a course handicap, before the handicap allowance for any match play format is then applied.
Will there be guidance for designing new scorecards? Yes.
Will the club have to advertise their Slope rating and SSS on their website? This will be up to the club, but the club will be required to publish any CCA’s calculated on days of play.
Should clubs wait until 2020 to redesign or reprint scorecards? We would advise club wait until they have their USGA course and slope rating information before having a lot of new cards printed.
Is the WHS going to create more work? The workload for clubs should be minimal, but as with any new system some work is inevitable.
What information will clubs be required to display? Clubs will need to show players the course and slope ratings, as well as giving them access to the course handicap calculation conversion tables.
Will handicaps change on 1st January 2020? The exact change-over date is yet to be confirmed.
Will the handicap index be based on historic data or fresh data? If a player has an existing handicap record that will be used to generate their first handicap index.
Will the slope rating be reflected in the handicap calculation? Slope rating is part of the system and will be used as part of the course handicap and score differential calculations.
Will we have a different conversion table for each tee at our club? Yes.   Each tee has a separate course rating and slope rating.
What replaces the current SSS certificate? You will be issued with a Course Rating and Slope Rating certificate.
Will the handicap allowances for different formats of the game be the same? They may change from what we use now, due to equity.
What happens to the Course Conditions Adjustment (CCA) if the weather is significantly different in the morning to the afternoon? Only one CCA will be calculated, so both sets of conditions will be taken into consideration in the CCA calculation, similar to the existing CSS calculation.
Will there be a pause period between the close of competition/entering a preregistered card before the handicap is adjusted? Handicaps will be adjusted at the end of each day, using the CCA adjustment.   The new handicap index will be available the following morning.
Will there still be reduction only competitions? No.
Will there still be a CSS calculated? No but a CCA calculation will calculate a similar adjustment for abnormal playing conditions
If a few players go out very late in the day after pre-registering for a social score, since the CCA is calculated centrally for all scores on any day how can the handicap index adjustments be worked out on the same day before one of them plays in a competition the following day


If a large competition (e.g. monthly medal) has been played earlier in the day it can be finished off and a result produced: but any players returning a score will not know the adjustment to their handicap index until the CCA is determined.
Will the new system comply with Data Protection laws? Yes, The New GDPR requirements will be met.
How much will all this cost clubs and Counties? Will England Golf help with the expense? It is hoped that the costs to clubs and counties will be kept to a minimum; and we are working with the R & A to ensure that this is the case.
Who will we ask for support? Support for the new system will be provided by England Golf, your affiliated county and your Club Support Officer.