The USGA and R&A have worked steadfastly to create a new world order … of handicaps. The result is a system that every golfer in the world can use at any course in the world. One that will allow you to compete equitably whether you’re playing a match in Dublin, Ohio, or Dublin, Ireland, Africa or Arkansas. The burning question for many golfers: Will my current index increase or decrease? It will, but not by much (look for it to go up or down a tick or two if keep your handicap in the U.S, maybe none at all.; look for it to rise slightly if you play in the British Isles). More important, the way you keep a handicap will be altered. Here’s everything you need to know with a little help from Steve Edmondson, the USGA’s managing director of handicapping and course rating.
What is happening to my handicap?
In short, it is getting better and global. For most folks who use the USGA Handicap System there will be little change. The current system computes your 10 best scores from your 20 most recent rounds. Under the new system only your top eight rounds will count toward your handicap, so if those 9th and 10th best rounds aren’t so hot, expect your index to improve. The 96% multiplier that existed in the old handicap system no longer exists, which should make calculating index changes in your head a bit easier for those quick with numbers.
I thought there already was a world handicap system?
Nope! There are actually six different systems in place around the world. Today, when American golfers want to post a score abroad, they might discover that that course may not have been rated via the USGA Course Rating System. Beginning next year all courses across the world — save for a few — will have the same grading system, dubbed “The Course Rating System.” This is a significant change that required raters to get out and assess roughly 3,000 courses around the world. No small job. Take a sprawling continent like Africa, for example. Raters there started in South Africa, Edmondson says, “and once they finished all their courses, they branched out to Angola, to Botswana, to Comoros, to DRC, Madagascar, Malawi.”
I don’t have a handicap, what should I do?
Get one! It is easier than ever. You’ll only have to play three rounds, or six nine-hole rounds, to create a Handicap Index. The old system required five 18-hole rounds. This change makes it easier for players to establish a handicap, so take advantage.
For more information, email: email@example.com
But I’m not good enough for a handicap…
Yes, you are! The new maximum index is 54.0 instead of what was 36.4 for men and 40.4 for women. Beginners are encouraged to take up a handicap, even if they’re just learning the game. “It’s all about greater enjoyment in the game,” Edmondson said. “Going out and having fun. This is a fun game. It would be hard to argue that a Handicap Index doesn’t help with greater enjoyment of the game. It allows us, no matter if we’re playing competitively or just having fun, to really have that fairness when we’re playing one another.”
What does it cost?
To create a truly worldwide system, there’s a lot of technology and man-hours involved. That isn’t free! But for you, the annual charge is about $20-30. That’s the price of one more bucket of balls a couple times a year! You can fit it into your budget. If not, you likely won’t be able to compete in officially sanctioned events. Find a USGA Allied Golf Association (typically your state golf association) website for more information.
How soon should I post scores after playing?
As soon as possible, and it’s worth it. The old system would revise your index bimonthly, on the 1st and 15th. The new system will update every single day. So your great round yesterday could impact your handicap tomorrow. The USGA has a GHIN App that makes it very easy to log scores immediately after a round. This has some ramifications for your annual club championship. In the past, if your championship took place on, say, June 24, your handicap from June 15 was used, and all scores from June 16-23 didn’t matter. Now, those scores will have more relevance.
What about nine-hole scores? Do they count?
Absolutely. In fact, it’s encouraged! The more data points, the more sound your Handicap Index will be.
~Reprinted from GOLF MAGAZINE
World Handicap System
Effective 1/1/2020, the USGA Handicap System will be replaced by the World Handicap System (WHS).
1. Total Blackout of GHIN system from 1/1 thru 1/5:
a. Save all scores from this window and post on 1/6
b. Update available for GHIN Mobile App on 1/6
c. Apart from original 20 postings used on 1/1 to calculate initial HI, no prior history will be available
d. All GHIN links expected to change in mid-March
2. Revision cycle changed to daily between 12 AM and 1 AM (Local):
a. It is imperative that all scores are posted on the day of play
b. Revision used for event(s) left to discretion of Tournament Committee
c. LI begins anew on 1/1, HI on that date equals initial LI, then updated from that point forward
3. Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) (maximum allowable strokes per hole) table changed to “Net Double-Bogey”, for any handicap, for any par, on any hole (Stroke Allocation now Stroke Index):
a. Par 3: 3 + 2 + Stroke Index;
b. Par 4: 4 + 2 + Stroke Index;
c. Par 5: 5 + 2 + Stroke Index; etc.
4. Obtaining a Handicap Index changed from 5, 18-hole rounds, to 3:
a. Max HI changed to 54.0, irrespective of gender
5. Handicap Index (HI) formula change:
a. From: Average best 10 of last 20 postings x 96%
b. To: Average best 8 of last 20 postings
6. Course Handicap (CH) formula change:
a. From: HI x Slp / 113
b. To: (HI x Slp / 113) + (Rtg – Par)
7. For detailed information, visit SCGA’s web site at: