World Handicap System 2020 – What You Need to Know

World Handicap System 2020 – What You Need to Know

Hope you all are keeping well and safe.

Just to let you know that I have updated the World Handicap System FAQs page with England Golf’s August 2020 updates.

You can read more by clicking HERE.

Despite the COVID-19 Pandemic England Golf have reassured us that the new World Handicap System will be rolled out in Great Britain & Ireland on Monday 2nd November 2020.

Know the Score Logo

They have embarked on a ‘Know the Score’ campaign to educate Golf Club Committees and Golfers on aspects of the new World Handicap System and issued every Golf Club with a Digital Education Toolkit, a copy of which you can download by clicking on the Download button below:

From that date your handicap will be based on the average of your best 8 scores from the last 20 rounds, and will vary depending on the difficulty of the course being played, as described below.

Next season your handicap will be known as your “handicap index”,

No more Qualifying Rounds, Buffer Zones or 0.1 increases.

If you don’t have the full 20 scores at transition your handicap index will still be allocated and continue to be developed by the same process as an initial handicap. The more cards you put in this season the better your “handicap index” will reflect your current playing ability. Don’t forget you can put in as many supplementary scores as you like.

If you can look at your own handicap record on your club website you may see it now shows your last 20 scores which will be used to calculate your “handicap index”. Later in the year your record should also show your “handicap index” alongside your current handicap so you can see how they compare . For most golfers there will be little difference.

Your “handicap index” will not lapse as long as you are a member of a golf club. Annual reviews by the handicap committee will still take place .You should note that unlike some other parts of the world the system in GB&I will not require all your social golf rounds to be pre-registered and count for handicap purposes.

Wherever you play you will use your “handicap index” to work out your “course handicap”. This is done simply by looking at a chart which will be available by the first tee (Apps and online calculators will also be available to prepare in advance!)

Your “course handicap” will vary depending on the difficulty of the course you are playing on ( known as its “slope rating”) The system is designed to enable us to compete or play recreationally with anyone else on a fair and equal basis .

Put simply, on a more difficult course than your Home Course your “course handicap” will be higher, on an easier course than your Home Course your “course handicap” will be lower. This will make matches fairer.

It is a good idea to begin to familiarise yourself with the changes before next season. There is a wealth of information available on the England Golf website including an excellent and straightforward “Rules of Handicapping Player Reference Guide” which is available at the bottom of this page or on the My-Golf website.

The main reasons for the Handicap changes are to bring the calculation of all handicaps, worldwide, into line so that they are comparable wherever you play. A typical home example is when you have a 20 handicap at your Home Club and you play another 20 handicap golfer from another Club, where the course may be a lot more difficult than your Home Course.

Under the new World Handicap System all handicaps (Handicap Indexes) will be based on a golfer playing a Standard Course which will be the same one for ALL golfers.

This will be a lot fairer allowing all golfers to play with or against each other on an even playing field (or Golf Course!)

A second reason for introducing the World Handicap System is that the current CONGU Handicap System, with its Buffer Zones and 0.1 increases etc., gives an indication of your playing potential and is not a true representation of your current playing ability. We all know only too well that if we get cut following a good round, it is difficult to play to our new handicap. Under the new WHS, with it being an average based system your handicap will not see-saw so much and in some cases may not be affected at all depending on your most recent scores recorded.

A third reason is that there will no longer be any Qualifying or Non-qualifying Competitions. There will no longer be Competition or Non-competition Handicaps, you will not have to submit a minimum of 3 scores in order to maintain your handicap, so long as you remain a member of an Affiliated Golf Club you will ne er lose your handicap indx.

The system will also have a mechanism (Capping) to ensure that your handicap does not go up or down too quickly within a 12 month period, unless you do record an exceptional score at some time; but, again this is dealt with sympathetically.

Although all this sounds quite daunting there is no real need to be overly concerned, all calculations should be performed by your Golf Club’s Handicap Software and in terms of day to day playing, in all honesty, not too much changes; all you will need to know is your Course Handicap or, if you are playing in a Competition, your Playing Handicap, before you start each round because these change depending on which Golf Course, Teeing Area or Competition Format you are using.

All Golf Clubs will provide a Course Handicap Table, in the ProShop, Clubhouse, First Tee or Mobile App from which you can determine the Course Handicap before you play, but during your round, and following it, there are no noticeable changes, just enter your score according to your Golf Club’s required procedure, as you do currently, and you will be notified of any change to your Handicap Index overnight.

  1. Course Rating, Bogey Rating and Slope Rating

Course Rating replaces Standard Scratch (SSS) and represents the score that a scratch golfer (Handicap 0) is expected to achieve on the course.

Bogey Rating represents the score that a Bogey golfer (Handicap for Men around 20 and for Ladies around 24) is expected to achieve on the course.

Slope Rating is the relative difficulty of a course from a specific set of tees for a bogey golfer compared to a scratch golfer, as described on the  Course Rating, Bogey Rating and Slope Rating Pages

The Slope Rating of a Course of standard playing difficulty, used in the calculation of every golfer’s Handicap Index worldwide, is 113

  1. Acceptable Scores

Singles Competition Rounds and Social Scores in Authorised Formats may be submitted for handicap purposes, as described on the Acceptable Scores page.

  1. Handicap Index

A measure of a player’s demonstrated current ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty, as described on the Handicap Index page.

  1. Course Handicap & Playing Handicap

Course Handicap is the number of handicap strokes a player receives before Handicap Allowances, on a specific course and a specific set of tees.

Playing Handicap is the Course Handicap adjusted for any Handicap Allowances. It represents the actual number of strokes the player gives or receives for the round being played under a given format.

See the Course and Playing Handicaps page.

  1. Transition Handicaps

In order to move from CONGU to WHS handicaps, all players’ current Handicap Records will be reprocessed using the WHS principles, as described on the Transition Handicaps page.

  1. Definitions

New terminology explained on the Definitions page.

  1. Further Information 

Click for further information about the WHS on the R&A website

and FAQ’s from the England Golf Website

and a series of short videos on specific aspects of the system

Below is a series of images that may help those of you who would like more detail and help you to further understand the WHS now you are aware of some of the new terms and definitions, or you may download a copy by clicking on the download button at the bottom of the page.

Enjoy your golf

Stay Safe and Play Safe


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