World Handicap System – Stroke Index Allocation

World Handicap System 2020 – Stroke Index Allocation

The recommendations for Stroke Index Allocation have changed under the WHS. It is recommended that each 9 holes are split into groups of 3 holes (triads):

The most difficult hole on each nine (Stroke Index 1 and 2) will be in the middle triad (holes 4 to 6 and 13 to 15)

Stroke Index 3 and 4 will be in either the first or last triad on each 9 and Stroke Index 5 and 6 in whichever triad has not already been used

The process is then repeated for Stroke Indexes 7 & 8, 9 & 10, 11 & 12 with one in each triad, then the same again for 13 to 18.

Following these guidelines should achieve the 2 main goals of the Stroke Indexes, which are:

  • In general, to give players handicap strokes on the more difficult holes
  • To provide an even distribution strokes throughout the round in both match play and stroke play.

Rules of Handicapping

Appendix E: Stroke Index Allocation

The Rules of Golf state: “The Committee is responsible for publishing on the scorecard or somewhere else that is visible (for example, near the first tee) the order of holes at which handicap strokes are to be given or received.”

(See Rules of Golf, Committee Procedures, Rule 5I (4)).It is recommended that a stroke index allocation be applied over 18-holes, split into six triads with each hole ranked on its playing difficulty relative to par. The difficulty of each hole can be determined objectively using hole-by-hole data provided from the Course Rating procedure as follows:

Scratch Value + Bogey Value (2 x par)

For example, on a par 4 hole where the Scratch Value is 4.2 and the Bogey Value is 5.3:

4.2 + 5.3 (2 x 4) = 1.5 over par

The recommended methodology and procedures for determining a stroke index allocation within the six triad structure, designed to accommodate both stroke play and match play formats, is as follows:

  • Apply odd stroke index allocations over the front nine and even stroke index allocations over the back nine. If, however, the back nine is significantly more difficult than the front nine, as determined by the Course Rating, the even stroke index allocations can be switched to the front nine and the odd stroke index allocations to the back nine.
  • Spread stroke index allocations evenly over the 18 holes so that players receiving strokes will have the opportunity to use a high proportion of these strokes before a match result has been decided.
  • Apply the lowest stroke index hole (1 or 2) on each nine in the middle triad. If no hole within the middle triad is ranked within the lowest 6 holes relative to par, then it can be moved into an adjacent hole at the end of the first triad or the beginning of the third triad on each nine.
  • Apply the second lowest stroke index hole (3 or 4) on each nine in either the first or third triad, unless the lowest stroke index hole has been allocated in that same triad.
  • If possible, avoid low stroke indexes(6 or less) on consecutive holes.
  • When a player receives more than 18 strokes, the same allocation order is used with stroke index1 repeating as stroke index 19, 37 and 55, with all additional strokes going up sequentially.

These recommended procedures support the guidance contained in the Rules of Golf, Committee Procedures, Rule 5I (4).

Stroke Index Allocation for 9-Hole Play

The strokes received in a 9-hole format of play on an 18-hole golf course should be taken in ascending order from the published stroke index allocation for 18 holes. Alternatively, the Handicap Committee may consider amending the stroke index allocation from 1 to 9, relative to the ascending order of the published stroke index allocation for 18 holes.

For plus handicap players, where they are required to give strokes back to the course, this commences on the hole with the highest published stroke index allocated for the 9 holes or, if the Handicap Committee has amended the stroke index allocation from 1 to 9, at the hole with stroke index 9.

Sample Stroke Index Allocations

Example 18-hole stroke index allocation
Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Stroke Index 7 15 5 11 1 13 3 17 9 8 16 6 12 2 14 4 18 10

When a Committee decides to amend an 18-hole stroke index allocation to create a 9-hole equivalent:

Example of an amended front nine 9-hole stroke index allocation
Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Stroke Index 4 8 3 6 1 7 2 9 5