WHS: What to Expect
When the new World Handicap System goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, golfers will notice a number of major changes and improvements compared to the current system. With help from the USGA, we’ve highlighted the Five Most Critical Changes you need to understand.
1. Your Handicap Index May Change
But that’s OK! At long last, players around the world will have an apples-to-apples handicap. Your new Handicap Index will be more responsive to good scores by averaging your eight best scores out of your most recent 20 (currently, it’s 10 out of 20 with a .96 multiplier).
In short, your Handicap Index will be determined by your demonstrated ability and the consistency of scores. In most cases for golfers in the U.S., it will change less than one stroke.
2. You Need to Know your Course Handicap
In the new system, your Course Handicap will be the number of strokes needed to play to par. This will result in greater variance in that number and presents a change. Historically it has represented the number of strokes needed to play to the Course Rating.
This is a good modification, as par is an easy number to remember. What’s your target score for the day? Take par plus your Course Handicap. The Course Rating will now be inherent within the calculation to be more intuitive and account for competing from different tees.
3. Net Double Bogey Max Score
Excluding tournament play, the maximum hole score for every golfer will be limited to a Net Double Bogey. This adjustment is more consistent from hole to hole than the Equitable Stroke Control procedure.
Net Double Bogey is already used in many other parts of the world and the calculation is simple: Par + 2 + any handicap strokes you receive.
4. Daily Handicap Index Updates
One of the ways handicapping is being modernized is by increasing the frequency of golfers’ Handicap Index updates. Under the WHS, your Handicap Index will update the day after a score is submitted.
No longer will you have to wait up to 15 days to learn your new Handicap Index. If you submit a score today, you’ll receive an updated Handicap Index tomorrow. This provides a fairer indication of a player’s ability in the moment.
On days where the player does not submit a score, no update will take place.
5. Safeguards & Abnormal Conditions
The new WHS will limit extreme upward movement of a Handicap Index. It also will automatically and immediately reduce a Handicap Index when an exceptional score of at least seven strokes or better is posted.
The new system also accounts for abnormal course or weather conditions to ensure that scores reflect when a course plays significantly different than its established Course Rating and Slope Rating. This might include a day when you play through 30-mph wind and pouring rain, or when the rough is cut down and nearly all hole locations are in the middle of the green.
These safeguards help maintain accuracy of a Handicap Index, greater integrity within the system and promote fun and fair play for golfers of all abilities.
For more on the WHS, click here.