Local Knowledge

October 2019


What’s your handicap? It’s typically one of the first questions golfers get asked whenever they gather on the first tee. Problem is, handicap systems differ in various parts of the world. A handicap in America, for example, isn’t comparable to those in Europe or Australia. That time a group of golfers traveled to Scotland and all broke 80 at North Berwick? They couldn’t post those rounds here in the U.S. because North Berwick hasn’t been rated by the USGA.That’s all about to change.

Starting next year, it will never be easier for players to keep up with their USGA Handicap and compare it to others around the globe. Changes are coming, and the World Handicap System (WHS), developed by the USGA and The R&A, is designed to provide all golfers with a consistent measure of their playing ability.

The new WHS will be implemented on Jan. 1, 2020, and follows an extensive review of systems administered by the six existing handicapping authorities: the USGA, 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) and the Argentine Golf Association (AAG). LEARN MORE


Cole Hammer of Houston and Kaitlyn Papp of Austin have been named to Team USA for the 2019 Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship held Nov. 7-9 at Whispering Pines Golf Club.

The Spirit International is a premiere golf event featuring the world’s best men and women amateur golfers representing their respective countries in team and individual competitions. It is a biennial event which alternates years with the World Amateur Team Championship.

Hammer, the No. 2-ranked male amateur in the world, is a sophomore at the University of Texas and played on the 2019 Walker Cup and Palmer Cup teams. He helped lead Texas to a second-place finish in the 2019 NCAA Championship and won the 2019 Phil Mickelson Award for college golf’s Freshman of the Year.

Papp, a junior at Texas, is currently No. 21 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. She was a member of the 2018 and 2019 Palmer Cup teams. Papp was a 2019 first-team All-American selection and played in the 2019 Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

Joining Hammer and Papp on Team USA are 2019 U.S. Amateur champion Andy Ogletree, a Georgia Tech senior from Little Rock, Miss., and Wake Forest junior Emilia Migliaccio from Cary, N.C. Ogletree is currently No. 27 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings and Migliaccio ranks 11th. Stacy Lewis, a 12-time LPGA champion and Houston resident, is the captain of Team USA. Team USA is looking for its sixth overall and fifth consecutive win. Their latest win came in 2015. The 2017 event was cancelled due to Hurricane Harvey. READ MORE


Applying the Rules of Golf to the dynamic landscape of a golf course is always going to present some challenges. Recognizing this fact, some of the recent changes to the Rules were designed specifically to address common course conditions, and to provide facilities with greater flexibility in how courses are maintained and set up. This flexibility can translate into more efficient golf course management and a better golf experience for all of us.

George Waters, manager of Green Section education for the USGA, takes a look at some examples of common course conditions, and explains how there should be increasing benefits for golfers and facilities as familiarity with the new Rules grows. READ MORE