Welcome to a New Era in Golf Handicapping

World Handicap System

The new World Handicap System (WHS) began rolling out in January 2020. It provides golfers with a unified and more inclusive handicapping system.

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About the WHS

The formation of the WHS was first conceived in 2011 between the USGA and The R&A in an effort to engage more golfers in the game and promote equity, no matter where golf is played. The years-long project has resulted in the unification of six existing worldwide handicapping systems into one, while embracing the many ways the game is played across cultures.

The USGA and The R&A believe the main objectives and key features of the new WHS, which are summarized below, will help strengthen and foster growth of the entire game for years to come by meeting the needs of the modern-day golfer.


Main Objectives

The tenets of the new system focus on three main objectives:

  1. To encourage as many golfers as possible to obtain and maintain a Handicap Index;
  2. To enable golfers of differing abilities, genders and countries to transport their Handicap Index to any course globally and compete on a fair basis;
  3. To indicate with sufficient accuracy the score a golfer is reasonably capable of achieving on any course around the world, playing under normal conditions.


Key Features

The new system will feature the following:

  • Flexibility in formats of play, allowing both competitive and recreational rounds to count for handicap purposes and ensuring that a golfer’s Handicap Index is more reflective of their demonstrated ability;
  • A minimal number of scores needed to obtain a Handicap Index; golfers will be able to obtain one after 54 holes from any combination of 9-hole and 18-hole rounds;
  • A Handicap Index that is portable from course to course and country to country through worldwide use of the USGA Course Rating System that is used in more than 80 countries worldwide;
  • An average-based calculation of a Handicap Index, taken from the best eight out of the last 20 scores and factoring in memory of demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control;
  • A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions might have on a player’s performance each day;
  • Daily handicap revisions, which is a modern and responsive feature of the new system that relies on golfers to submit their scores on the same day of play;
  • Net Double Bogey as the maximum hole score (for handicapping purposes only). Net Double Bogey makes it easier for golfers to understand their maximum score per hole while also helping ensure proper pace of play. Example: A player with a Course Handicap of 18 receives one stroke per hole; the player’s max score is triple bogey on any hole, which equals a Net Double Bogey;
  • A maximum Handicap Index limit of 54.0, regardless of gender, to encourage more golfers to measure and track their performance to increase their enjoyment of the game. The previous max handicap of 36 was seen as too high of a bar for new golfers. By raising the max handicap to 54, it allows for more new golfers to get a handicap and feel like they are good enough to have one.