World Handicap System from 2020

Published: 21-Feb-2018      Updated: 31-Mar-2018

World Golf Handicap System - January 2020

Presently there are six different golf handicap systems operating in the world. From 2020 there will be one only, which will be applied globally. The R&A and the USGA have worked together to develop this universal golf handicap system. 

The underlying aims are:

-  To encourage as many golfers as possible to obtain and maintain a handicap,

-  To allow golfers of different abilities to apply their handicap on any course in the world, so that they can play and compete fairly,     

-  To be easy to understand, without forfeiting accuracy, 

-  To be adaptable and applicable across different golfing cultures around the world.  

Existing scoring records will be retained and will be used, where possible, to calculate a WHS handicap. In most cases, any changes to someone's handicap will be minor. 

Cultural variations in the way the game of golf is played, including formats of play and levels of competitiveness, will not intentionally be changed.  

The six international handicapping authorities have gone through their own approval processes and all have confirmed support for the new system. 

The 2020 World Handicap System will feature the following:

  • Flexibility in formats of play, allowing both competitive and recreational rounds to count for handicap purposes, 
  • The number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap will be 54 holes from any combination of 18-hole and 9-hole rounds,
  • A consistent handicap that is applicable worldwide, using the USGA Course and Slope Rating System,
  • An average-based calculation of a handicap, taken from the best eight of the last 20 scores, 
  • Abnormal course and weather conditions to be factored in, 
  • Daily handicap revisions,
  • Handicaps will not lapse after a time of inactivity,
  • A limit of net double bogey on the maximum hole score (for handicapping purposes only), 
  • A maximum handicap limit of 54.0, regardless of gender, to encourage more golfers to measure and track their performance to increase their enjoyment of the game.

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