The World Handicap System is expected to launch on 2nd November 2020. It is designed to welcome more players, to make golf easier to understand and to give all golfers a handicap which is portable all around the globe.

It will replace the six different systems currently used by over 15 million golfers in more than 80 countries.

It has been developed by the R&A and The United States Golf Association (USGA), supported by the world’s handicapping authorities, including CONGU, which represents the four home countries of Great Britain and Ireland.

To make the game more enjoyable, the new system will include:

  • Course rating and slope rating
  • Minimum number of scores to obtain a handicap
  • Competitive and recreational scores to count for handicap
  • Handicaps will be calculated from an average of recent scores
  • Maximum handicap of 54
  • Abnormal course and weather conditions adjustments

Course Rating & Slope Rating

Course Rating replaces Standard Scratch (SSS) and represents the score that a scratch golfer is expected to achieve on the course.

Slope Rating is the relative difficulty of a course from a specific set of tees for a bogey golfer compared to a scratch golfer.

Acceptable Scores

Singles Competition Rounds and Social Scores in Authorised Formats may be submitted for handicap purposes.

Handicap Index

A measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty.

Course Handicap & Playing Handicap

Course Handicap is the number of handicap strokes a player receives before Handicap Allowances, on a specific course and a specific set of tees.

Playing Handicap is the Course Handicap adjusted for any Handicap Allowances. It represents the actual number of strokes the player gives or receives for the round being played.

Transition Handicaps

In order to move from CONGU to WHS handicaps, all players’ current Handicap Records will be reprocessed using the WHS principles.

Stroke Index

The recommendations for the way that Stroke Indexes are determined are changing under the WHS. Final details are still awaited, but is expected that each 9 holes will be 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.

Further Information

Click for further information about the WHS on the England Golf website

and a series of short videos on specific aspects of the system