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World Handicap System

What is happening?

As of November 2nd, 2020, the governing bodies of amateur golf in Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales will introduce the new World Handicap System (WHS).

The current golf handicapping system maintained by CONGU will be replaced by WHS which will unify the six different structures currently in operation throughout the world of golf.

With one single, global system in place for the first time, golfer will be able to obtain and maintain a handicap index and use this on any course around the world.

In addition, they will be able to compete or simply play a casual round with fellow golfers anywhere on a fair and equal basis.

As well as encouraging players new to the sport to obtain a handicap with ease, the WHS will also modernise the game for those who have been playing for longer. 

Under the new system, a player’s handicap will be based on the average of eight best scores from their last 20 rounds. 

WHS will also take into account factors currently not fully represented in the existing handicapping procedure through a course and slope rating system.


What are the features of WHS?

  • Flexibility in formats of play, allowing both competitive and recreational rounds to count for handicap purposes and ensuring that a golfer’s handicap is more reflective of potential ability.
  • A minimal number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap; a recommendation that the number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap be 54 holes from any combination of 18-hole and 9-hole rounds, but with some discretion available for national or regional associations to set a different minimum within their own jurisdiction.
  • A consistent handicap that is portable from course to course and country to country through worldwide use of the USGA Course and Slope Rating System, already successfully used in more than 80 countries.
  • An average-based calculation of a handicap, taken from the best eight out of the last 20 scores and factoring in memory of demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control.
  • A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions might have on a player’s performance each day
  • Daily handicap revisions, taking account of the course and weather conditions calculation.
  • A limit of Net Double Bogey on the maximum hole score (for handicapping purposes only).
  • A maximum handicap limit of 54.0, regardless of gender, to encourage more golfers to measure and track their performance to increase their enjoyment of the game.

WHS Resources

To support those involved in supporting Handicapping across the country, The R&A and USGA have put together a number of information videos that explain different elements of the World Handicap System. These videos can be viewed below.

There are also a number of additional resources:

WHS Key Features

Find out more about WHS.

WHS 2020 Basis of Handicap Calculations

Information on the basis of calculations of Handicap Index.

WHS 2020 Acceptable Scores

Information on acceptable scores.

WHS 2020 Course and Slope Rating

Information on course and slope rating.

WHS 2020 Playing Handicap

Information on playing handicap.

WHS 2020 Maximum Hole Score

Information on maximum hole score.

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