World Handicap System 2020 – WHS Winter Golf
This post may be a little academic at this time of a Third Lockdown and Golf Courses being closed in England, Wales and Ireland (Scotland remaining open), but I have received a number of emails over the last few weeks concerning the WHS and Winter Handicaps, Winter Tees, Winter Courses and Winter Rules.
The most common problem has been where Clubs have not rated their Winter Tees, because of their temporary nature, but wish to run competitions on these courses.
Added to this is is the fact that Club Handicap Software will not offer the option for winter handicaps under the WHS.
It is the intention of the national federations that there is a 12-month handicapping season. WHS allows for the return of scores less than 18 holes, when a club designates some unplayable, for example due to wet conditions or lack of light. Handicap Software Systems have guidelines allowing for shortened holes and winter tees. PCC (the new equivalent to CSS) is designed to account for daily playing conditions and handicaps are calculated against this, not the course rating (the new equivalent to SSS) or par.
Your Club will still be able organise non-qualifying competitions and process these through your Handicap Software for publication.
The World Handicap System states that acceptable scores for handicap purposes should be posted throughout the year.
However, this is not really feasible when winter courses are in play, especially courses which are not sand-based; the advice is that when course conditions are poor then it is not reasonable to be submitting qualifying (Acceptable) scores.
Regardless of the season, acceptable scores can only be submitted on a rated course (which would include a temporary rating where necessary).
If a Club does not have such a course, for whatever reason and a common one now is that Winter Tees have not been rated, then clearly such scores cannot be submitted.
Appendix G of the Rules of Handicapping is solely for when there are temporary adjustments to a course for reasons such as emergency maintenance on a tee etc. and does not include a winter course.
So, if a club wants to offer Acceptable Scores during the winter period when winter tees are in use, then the course being played needs to have a rating, whether that is a full rating or a temporary rating.
A Club must apply for this rating and it is up to the appropriate County to provide this service (albeit at their convenience – they are all volunteers!).
Whilst the aim is to allow submission of Acceptable Scores all year, a level of realism is required on courses that are clearly sub-standard due to weather conditions (as they would have been in previous years).
This situation may not just be for winter, it would not be unreasonable, even in the Summer playing season, that a club could prevent the return of Acceptable scores (competition and social/General Play) if the course is not in a good condition – examples of this could be when the greens have been hollow-tined or heavily top dressed.
Until a Course Rating has been issued a Club may only run Non-acceptable Competitions.
To sum up:
Acceptable Scores – Winter Competitions
To run Competitions and want scores to be acceptable for Handicap Purposes:
- Competitions must be run over 9 or 18 Holes.
- Rounds must be played in accordance with Rule 2.1 of the Rules of Handicapping Page 26.
- Preferred lies are allowable under the guidance below.
- Scaling up is allowed in accordance with Rule 3.2 of the Rules of Handicapping (Page 36/37).
If a Club cannot run Competitions that are acceptable for Handicap Purposes, it can still run Non-acceptable Competitions that can be set up using Club Software or Manually to record Scores and Winners.
The following procedure is quite permissible, and several Clubs are following similar ones.
Non-Acceptable Scores – Winter Competitions
To run Competitions where scores are not acceptable for Handicap Purposes, but where results can be processed, a neutral slope of 113 and a Course rating equal to the Par of the holes being played can be used.
This will mean a Chart to generate the Course Handicap is not required (i.e., your Course Handicap is your rounded Handicap Index). The scores cannot be Acceptable for handicap purposes, but it does allow non-qualifying competitions to be run during this period (lockdown notwithstanding).
- If your Club uses Software to run the competition you can follow the guidelines within the software to cater for unrated courses.
- If your Club runs its competitions manually, you can use the Handicap Index as the basis for the calculation of a Course Handicap and/or Playing Handicap which should then be adjusted relative to the number of holes being played.
Guidance on the Preferred Lies Period
Preferred Lies – Model Local Rules E-2 and E-3.
In England, Wales and Scotland the Preferred Lies Period runs from 1st October to 30th April while in Ireland, the Preferred Lies period is from November 1st to April 30th.
Clubs can run competitions where scores are acceptable for handicapping purposes during this period when both Model Local Rule E-2 and E-3 are in force.
It is recommended that a Local Rule permitting preferred lies in the general area outside of the preferred lies period should be used only in extreme circumstances where scores will not be accepted for handicapping purpose (WHS Guidance document Appendix H).
The purpose of preferred lies as described in Model Local Rule E-3 is to protect areas of the course cut to fairway height or less. This Model Local Rule allows players to lift, clean and place the ball within six inches in the General Area cut to fairway height. It is recommended that the ball should be marked before lifting. The ball must be placed in the relief area within six inches of the reference point.
However, it is not recommended that this Rule is routinely adopted for the General Area as a whole because it could give a player an unfair advantage by offering her/him free relief from an unplayable lie, e.g., a ball located behind a tree or under a bush.
There is another Model Local Rule, E-2, that may be adopted which allows balls to be cleaned in the General Area when conditions such as wet ground throughout parts of the course may cause mud to stick to the ball.
The purpose of Model Local Rule E-2 is to allow players to clean the ball in the general area (which would include the Rough) when conditions throughout parts of the course cause mud to stick to the ball. This allows the ball to be cleaned and replaced and should be limited to those parts of the course where needed, not to the whole course. The ball must be marked before lifting and cleaning and must be replaced on its original spot before playing.
During the Preferred Lie period scores may not be returned for handicapping purposes if any of the following local rules or restrictions apply: –
- Preferred lies in the general area or where the relief area exceeds 6 inches.
- The ball is lifted from the fairway and placed or dropped in the semi-rough
- The competition is over less than 18 holes but is not a 9 hole competition
- If the competition is played using winter tees or greens and a temporary modification to the course and slope ratings has not been approved by the area authority
- Where the use of fairway mats does not follow the rules provided in the WHS Guidance document Appendix H GH/2.
I hope this offers some help and guidance for those of you trying to work through the Winter Period and organise competitive Golf Competitions
England Golf have issued guidelines on Winter Golf, England Golf Winter Golf Checklist which you can read below or download a copy by clicking on the Download Button below:
You can download a copy of this advice by clicking on the link below:
World Handicap System 2020 – WHS Winter Golf • Getting to Grips with the Rules of Golf (my-golf.uk)
Stay safe and well
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