The World Handicap System (WHS) debuted in 2020, with the goal of allowing golfers to play on an equitable and fair basis around the globe. Currently, there are 6 handicap systems used across the globe, and course ratings are not done in several countries.  The WHS requires that all courses be rated and handicap index calculated in a consistent manner across the globe.  US golfers who have been using GHIN will not be significantly impacted, but there are several new concepts & terms for all golfers to learn! 

Posted below are five key WHS topics taken from the Florida State Golf Association (FSGA) website https://www.fsga.org/news/details/1755


Your Handicap Index may change

But that’s ok!   Finally, players around the world will have an apples-to-apples handicap. Your new Handicap Index will be more responsive to good scores by averaging your eight best score out of your most recent 20 (currently, it’s 10 out of 20 with a .96 multiplier). In short, your Handicap Index will be determined by your demonstrated ability and the consistency of scores. In most cases for golfers in the U.S., it will change less than one stroke. 


You need to know your Course Handicap

In the new system, your Course Handicap will be the number of strokes needed to play to par. This will result in greater variance in that number and presents a change, as historically it has represented the number of strokes needed to play to the Course Rating. This is a good thing, as par is an easy number to remember. Target score for the day?  Par plus Course Handicap. The Course Rating will now be inherent within the calculation to be more intuitive and account for competing from different tees. 


Net Double Bogey

The maximum hole score for each player will be limited to a Net Double Bogey. This adjustment is more consistent from hole to hole than the Equitable Stroke Control procedure. Net Double Bogey is already used in many other parts of the world and the calculation is simple: Par + 2 + any handicap strokes you receive. 


Your Handicap Index will be revised daily

One way that handicapping is being modernized is a player’s Handicap Index will update daily (which will provide a fairer indication of a player’s ability in the moment), if the player submitted a score the day before. On days where the player does not submit a score, no update will take place. 


Safeguards in the new system

The new system will limit extreme upward movement of a Handicap Index, automatically and immediately reduce a Handicap Index when an exceptional score of at least 7 strokes better is posted, and account for abnormal course or weather conditions to ensure that scores reflect when a course plays significantly different than its established Course Rating and Slope Rating. These safeguards help maintain accuracy of a Handicap Index, greater integrity within the system and promote fun and fair play for golfers of all abilities


The FSGA website offers additional information about the WHS, to include pictures, videos, FAQs & presentation materials.  Any golfer can access WHS resources at:   https://fsga.org/sections/content/World-Handicap-System/1025

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