Local Knowledge – December 2019


1. Changes to Handicap Index Calculation: With the World Handicap System, a player’s best 8 scores out of the last 20 are used, not best 10 out of 20. For most U.S. golfers, the change will be minor, but they may see that their Handicap Index is different in January, despite not having played.
2. Changes to Course Handicap: Slope Rating, Course Rating and Par will now be used to determine a Course Handicap, so golfers should expect to see changes in their Course Handicaps.
3. Introduction of Playing Handicap: A Playing Handicap is a new term that represents the number of strokes a golfer receives during a round. Most of the time, it will be the same as their Course Handicap, but it may change based on the format of play and handicap allowance applied. A Playing Handicap also allows for golfers to compete from different tees more easily.
4. Net Double Bogey Replaces ESC: 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 received.
5. Safeguards & Abnormal Conditions: Safeguards have been added to protect golfers’ Handicap Indexes. The system will automatically account for abnormal playing conditions, limit extreme upward movement of a Handicap Index, and reduce a Handicap Index when an exceptional score is posted.
6. Daily Handicap Index Updates: Another of the ways handicapping is being modernized is by increasing the frequency of golfers’ Handicap Index updates. Under the WHS, Handicap Indexes will update the day after a score is submitted. On days a golfer doesn’t submit a score, no update will take place.
More information about the changes can be found on specific pages for EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS FOR CLUB ADMINISTRATORS and EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS FOR PLAYERS.


The change from the USGA Handicap System to the new World Handicap System will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020. With the objective of making the transition easier to understand, the USGA and The R&A have produce an Abbreviated Change Summaries paper that identifies the main changes expected to have the most impact on golfers. The summary chart covering the major changes outlines 1) the current USGA Handicap System policy, 2) the new Rules of Handicapping change and 3) reasons for the change and why it matters. DOWNLOAD ABBREVIATED VERSION
There is also a more in-depth version available for download. Each of the one-page documents in the full version goes into greater detail about the major changes from the USGA Handicap System to the World Handicap System. DOWNLOAD FULL VERSION

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