World Handicap System™ (WHS™) Handicapping FAQs
For Clubs and Golfers
How is my Handicap Index® calculated? I thought it was just an average of some of my scores?
The calculation is not just using at your scores. It is using the Score Differentials. It is important to note because the lowest score may not always represent the lowest Score Differential. The Score Differential takes into consideration not only the score you made, but also the Course Rating™ and the Slope Rating® of the tees you played that day, along with any Playing Conditions Calculation or PCC (if applicable). Here is the calculation to determine the Score Differential:
Score Differential = (113 / Slope Rating) x (Adjusted Gross Score – Course Rating – PCC Adjustment)
After the Score Differential is calculated, then your Handicap Index (HI) is determined by taking, of your most 20 recent scores, the 8 lowest Score Differentials and averages those (we call that the 8 of 20). When reviewing your record in GHIN, always look at the “Differentials” or “Diff” column or the scores marked with an asterisk (*) to see which Score Differentials are used to determine your HI. That is just the first step in the calculation. Next, it compares your 8 of 20 to your Low Handicap Index™ (LHI). A LHI is the lowest HI achieved over the 365-day period preceding the most recent score in your scoring record. The LHI serves as a reference point or benchmark against which your current HI can be compared. The calculation takes of your 20 most recent scores, the 8 lowest Score Diffs, averages those and then checks to see if more than 3.0 strokes difference between that and your LHI. If not, then that 8 of 20 average becomes your HI. If yes, if more than 3.0 strokes difference between your HI and your LHI, then a “Soft Cap” is automatically applied.
Basic Steps to Calculate a Handicap Index:
A score is posted. Later that day, after 11:59 pm, the system revises/recalculates, following these steps:
- Determines the Score Differential
- Determines if a PCC applies
- Determines if an Exceptional Score Reduction applies
- Determine of the 20 most recently posted scores, the 8 lowest Score Diffs and averages those, to the tenth digit (0.5 or more is rounded up.)
- Compare the 8 of 20 average to the LHI from the last 365 days (preceding the most recently posted score) and if not greater than 3.0 difference, then the 8 of 20 becomes your HI.
- If a greater than 3.0 difference, a Soft Cap is calculated and applied to your HI.
- If a greater than 5.0 difference, a Hard Cap is calculated and applied to your HI.
What is the Playing Conditions Calculation or PCC?
The Playing Conditions Calculation or PCC is an automatic feature that is built into the formula. The PCC calculation is designed to be conservative and will result in no adjustment (0.0 or showing up in GHIN as just a dash or “–” in the PCC column) on most days.
PCC is not something that any person, club or golf course can ask for it to be manually applied. It is not announced the day of play. Whether the PCC gets applied is determined after 11:59 p.m., when the calculation revises/recalculates handicaps for all golfers that played that golf course that day and posted their score before 11:59 p.m. It is an algorithm. We cannot state that if scores are xx higher or xx lower than expected on a particular day, then the PCC will be applied. We DO know that it will be conservative in nature so the PCC will only be either a minus 1, 0, +1, +2 or +3.
- A 0.0 adjustment means the course played as expected.
- A -1.0 adjustment means the course played easier than normal.
- A +1.0, +2.0 or +3.0 adjustment means the course played more difficult than normal.
Again, as mentioned above, the calculation is designed to be conservative and will result in no adjustment (0.0) on most days.
For PCC to even to be considered in the calculation, from a golf course, there must be at least 8 scores posted that day, before 11:59 p.m. by golfers with a Handicap Index of 36.0 or lower.
If only 7 players with HI of 36.0 or lower posted scores before 11: 59 p.m. from playing that golf course that day, then no matter what the conditions were, no PCC will ever be applied. So, it is all the more important for golfers to post all scores immediately following play and at the very least before 11:59 p.m. the day of play.
What are “Soft” and “Hard” Caps?
In the World Handicap System or WHS, there are safeguards built into the calculation to limit the extreme upward movement of the golfer’s Handicap Index, and one such safeguard is the Soft and Hard Caps. Soft Caps are designed to push down or suppress the extreme upward movement/increase of the golfer’s HI, and Hard Caps literally restrict or freeze the extreme upward movement/increase of the golfer’s HI.
How does this work, how are Soft or Hard Caps applied?
The caps are driven by the comparison of the golfer’s current Handicap Index to their Low Handicap Index. A HI is a calculation or benchmark and is used to determine a golfer’s demonstrated playing ability. A LHI is the lowest HI achieved over the 365-day period preceding the most recent score in your scoring record. The LHI serves as a reference point against which the golfer’s current HI can be compared.
•The calculation takes of your 20 most recent scores, the 8 lowest Score Differentials or Diffs, averages those and then checks to see if 3.0 strokes difference between that and your LHI. If yes, the Soft Cap gets applied, suppressing it from increasing. And after the Soft Cap is applied, if playing and posting scores with higher Score Diffs, then a Hard Cap may then be applied.
•The Hard Cap restricts/freezes upward movement. The Hard Cap application is also an automatic function of the calculation, which takes of your 20 most recent scores, the 8 lowest Score Diffs, averages those, and then checks to see if 5.0 strokes difference between that your LHI. If yes, the Hard Cap is applied and restricts upward movement by 50% after a 5.0 increase over your 12-month LHI. Aren’t you glad we have GHIN to run these numbers for us?
The date I achieved my Low Handicap has passed and has not changed in GHIN, why?
Remember that nothing in your scoring record changes until you play, post and go through the required revision/recalculation which occurs after 11:59 p.m. the day of the posting. Your LHI/LHI Date may or may not change. Just realize that the system does not automatically change/update when the calendar hits the date you achieved your LHI, commonly referred to as your “Anchor Date.” So, play, post, and after 11:59 p.m., it revises/recalculates and at that point, the system will then look for the LHI again and LHI Date achieved. The LHI is the lowest Handicap Index achieved over the 365-day period preceding the most recent score in your scoring record. Then that new “Anchor Date” will display in your record.
What is an Exceptional Score Reduction or ESR?
The Exceptional Score Reduction or ESR is another safeguard built into the calculation to limit extreme increases in the Handicap Indexes. An ESR Score is defined as: A Score Differential which is at least 7.0 strokes better (lower) than your HI at the time the round was played. When looking at the scoring record in GHIN, it is the Score Type of “EH” where E = Exceptional score and H=Home, or EA where A=Away or EC where C=Competition.
•If the Score Differential is 7.0 to 9.9 strokes lower than your HI at that time, then the -1 is applied to the Score Differentials.
•If the Score Differential is 10.0 or more strokes lower than your HI at that time, then the -2 is applied to the Score Differentials.
•When an Exceptional Score is posted, the adjustment is applied to each of the previous 20 Score Differentials in your scoring record.
•The net result will be a 1.0 or 2.0 stroke reduction in the HI. Subsequent scores don’t get the adjustment, which allows the impact of the ESR to slowly diminish, as new scores are posted, or as “played away.”
What is the Course Handicap? Why do I need it?
The Course Handicap (CH) tells you the number of strokes you need to “play to Par” or get you back to Par. Your Handicap Index is considered a “benchmark.” Every time you tee it up, you take your current HI, and convert it into the CH, based upon the tees you are playing that day. It is easiest to use the GHIN mobile app or GHIN.com to determine your CH, but here is the formula for your information to determine your CH:
Course Handicap = Handicap Index x (Slope Rating / 113) + (Course Rating – Par)