World Handicap System – Handicap Index

World Handicap System – 2020 Handicap Index

Handicap Index

This is a golfer’s personal handicap on a course of standard relative playing difficulty (neutral Slope of 113), calculated to the nearest 0.1.

It is portable from course to course and country to country.

How to get a Handicap Index.

New golfers must complete 54 holes

    • These may be made up of any combination of 9- or 18-hole rounds
    • These scores will then be made in to 3 x 18-hole scores to allow a Handicap Index to be allocated.
    • A golfer’s Handicap Index will continue to develop until their playing record contains 20 scores.

For fewer than 20 Scores:

How is My Handicap Index Calculated?

A player’s Handicap Index should represent their current ability but, where appropriate, be responsive to scores that are inconsistent with that demonstrated ability.

    • A Handicap Index is calculated by taking the average of the lowest 8 of the most recent 20 score differentials, rounded to the nearest tenth.

It will also include mechanisms which:

    • Take into consideration the conditions under which a score was played, (Playing Conditions Calculation – PCC)
    • Remembers previously demonstrated ability within a 12-month period
    • Caps the upward movement of a Handicap Index within a 12-month period
    • Applies additional adjustments to Handicap Index when an Exceptional Score is submitted.

Score Differential

Basic Calculation of a Score Differential
Calculating a Score Differential
Example of a Scoring Record
Example of 8 out of 20 Calculation
Example 8 of 20 Calculation
Example 8 of 20 Calculation
Example 8 of 20 Calculation
Example 8 of 20 Calculation

Memory of Low Handicap Index

    • A Player’s lowest Handicap Index is remembered within the handicapping formula
    • It provides a reference point against which the current Handicap Index can be compared
    • This helps to ensure that the player’s current Handicap Index cannot stray too far away from their demonstrated playing ability in too short a period of time.
    • If the new Handicap Index is more than a certain number of strokes above the Low Handicap Index, the Cap is triggered


This is a suppression mechanism that limits increases in handicap Index relative to a player’s lowest Handicap Index when a player is going through a spell of poor form.

    • Soft Cap

The Soft Cap suppresses upward movement when the difference between the new calculated Handicap Index and the Lowest Handicap Index is greater than 3.

The increase is suppressed by 50% of any value over 3

    • Hard Cap

The Hard Cap prevents further upward movement by placing a hard ceiling at 5 above the Lowest Index

The Soft Cap and Hard Cap procedures only start to take effect once a player has at least 20 acceptable scores in their playing record.

Soft Cap
Soft Cap
Hard Cap
Soft Cap

Exceptional Scores

A score differential which is at least 7 strokes or more better than the player’s Handicap Index at the time the round was played.

    • The score can be from any format of play, competitive or general play.
    • Not restricted to Tournament scores
    • When an Exceptional Score is submitted, the Handicap formula applies an additional adjustment to the player’s updated Handicap Index, according to the table below.

Score Relative to Handicap Index-7.0-10.0
Extra Adjustment-1.0-2.0
Exceptional Score Adjustment

    • This adjustment is in addition to any reduction caused within the Average 8 out of 20 calculation
    • The Handicap Committee has the jurisdiction to override the adjustment if the so wish
Exceptional Score
Exceptional Score

Revision of Handicap Index

    • Players must submit their scores as soon as possible after their round is completed and before midnight
    • This is to ensure that their score will be used for the Playing Conditions Calculation
    • A player’s Handicap Index will be updated the day after the score was submitted
    • If more than one score is submitted in a single day, the score submitted first will not update the record prior to the second score being submitted.
    • Both scores will be updated the following day