The WORLD HANDICAP SYSTEM enables golfers of different abilities to play and compete on a fair basis, in any format, on any course, anywhere around the world. WHS unifies six different handicap system that were in use around the world into a single system.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • My Handicap Index changed under the World Handicap System. Why?
    • Your Handicap Index in 2020 is based on the modernized Rules of Handicapping and is more responsive to good scores by averaging your eight (8) best scores out of your most recent 20.  Under the previous USGA Handicap System, 10 of 20 scores with a .96 multiplier was used.  In most cases for golfers in the U.S., your Handicap Index changed less than one stroke.  So, if you notice that your Handicap Index is different despite not having played, this is why.
  • Someones asks me what my handicap is when we're standing on the first tee.  What do I tell them?
    • Start with your Handicap Index.  This drives everything.  Slope Rating and now Course Rating and par are used to determine your Course Handicap, which represents the number of strokes you'll need to play to par.  Your playing Handicap is the actual number of strokes you give or receive for the round being played.  It is typically the same number as your Course Handicap, except when a term of the competition applies, such as a handicap allowance used for equity in certain formats of play.
  • I read that there is a new Course Handicap calculation.  What does it mean for me?
    • The new Course Handicap calculation includes the difference between Course Rating and par.  This simply means that your Course Handicap now represents the number of strokes needed to play to par for the set of tees being played.  As a result, your Course Handicap will vary more from tee to tee than it did in the past.  For you to play to your handicap, your target score for the day will be par plus your Course Handicap.
  • I play in a group where we all play from different tees.  Do we still have a Course Handicap adjustment when we play?
    • Under the Rules of Handicapping, such an adjustment is only necessary when par is different - which is far less likely.
  • How do I determine my maximum score for a hole?
    • Under the new Rules of Handicapping, you are encouraged to pick up once you have reached your maximum hole score for handicap purposes - which is a Net Double Bogey.
    • Net Double Bogey = Par + 2 strokes (for double bogey) + any handicap strokes received on a hole
  • Sometimes I submit a score when the course was playing really tough due to weather conditions or placement of hole locations.  I don't feel that the score I posted is an accurate reflection of how I played.  Does the Rules of Handicapping address this?
    • Yes!  Golf is an outdoor game and sometimes playing conditions (weather or course setup) can cause scores to be abnormally high or low on a given day.  Under the Rules of Handicapping, a Playing Condition Calculation will account for this and adjust players' Score Differentials to better reflect their actual performance.  This calcuation is driven by scores posted a at a golf course on a given day.  Any adjustment will be clearly identified in a player's scoring record for transparency.
  • I normally post my scores for the week on Sunday night to make sure they're included in the next revision.  Can I still do this under the Rules of Handicapping?
    • Under the Rules of Handicapping, you should post your scores the day you play for two reasons
      • Daily Revisions - Each time you post a score, that score will be factored into calculation of your Handicap Index for use the very next day.
      • Playing Conditions Calcuation - It uses scores submitted each day to determine any adjustment for abnormal playing conditions.
  • I was only able to play 12 holes before darkness prevented me from playing the rest of the round.  Can I still post a score for handicap purposes if I don't play a full 9-hole or 18-hole round?
    • In that situation, you would disregard the scores made on holes 10 through 12 and submit a nine-hole score.  For a nine-hole score to be acceptable, you must play at least seven holes.  To submit an 18-hole score, you must be play a minimum of 14 holes.
  • There's a golfer in my league who always tends to play well during net competitions and wins often.  Are there provisions in place to ensure that everyone is playing on a fair level?
    • Under the Rules of Handicapping, there are several safeguards to ensure the integrity of a player's Handicap Index.  A Soft Cap and Hard cap limit the extreme upware movement of a Handicap Index over a rolling 12-month timeframe, and an Exceptional Score Reduction reduces a player's Handicap Index each time they post a score that produces a Score Differential at least 7.0 strokes below their Handicap Index.
  • Who should I contact if I have any handicapping questions?

World Handicap System Education for Golfers

Click any of the links below to learn more about the World Handicap System:

The video below is a pre-recorded webinar on the World Handicap System which dives into the in's and out's of the new Rules of Handicapping.

World Handicap System Education for Clubs

As part of the rollout of the World Handicap System, all NHGA Member Clubs are required to complete the WHS Club Authorization Program.  At least one staff member or official from each club or facility will need to complete the education piece of the program and then pass the WHS Club Assessment.

See below for the NHGA pre-recorded WHS webinar for clubs:


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