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World Handicap System

The R&A and USGA have announced details of the new World Handicap System (WHS).  The way golfers around the world will calculate their handicaps is set to be transformed by a new system developed by The R&A and the USGA, with key features designed to provide all golfers with a consistent measure of playing ability.

The new World Handicap System, to be implemented in 2020, follows an extensive review of systems administered by six existing handicapping authorities: Golf Australia, the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) in Great Britain and Ireland, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA), the Argentine Golf
Association (AAG) and the USGA.

The new system will feature the following:

  • 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

Quantitative research was conducted in 15 countries around the world, through which 76 percent of the 52,000 respondents voiced their support for a World Handicap System, 22 percent were willing to consider its benefits, and only 2 percent were opposed. This was followed by a series of focus groups, in which more than 300 golf administrators and golfers from regions around the world offered extensive feedback on the features of the proposed new system.

This feedback has helped shape the WHS, which has been developed by The R&A and the USGA with support from each existing handicapping authority as well as the Japan Golf Association and Golf Canada.

Wales golf is working closely with the R&A and USGA to introduce the new system and will be running workshops for clubs in the autumn to outline the new system and its likely impact.

Educational Workshops

Wales Golf  completed a series of workshops in autumn 2018 on the 2012 World Handicap System. Every affiliated club in Wales had the opportunity to send representatives and will be using the information to go back and educate their membership on the key changes coming in to affect. If you want to check out the presentation from the day please see the downloads section for the presentation. (World Handicap System presentation is the 2nd section of presentation) For any questions please use the email address below.

For specific questions please use handicapping@walesgolf.org

For additional information please check out the downloads below

Downloads