Understanding the Golf Handicap

World Golf Handicap System

Your guide to your new global golf handicap

What is a golf handicap

Learn more about the World Handicap System - the first global approach to your Golf Handicap

A golf handicap is the measurement of your golfing ability and allows you to play against other golfers on a fair basis. It’s therefore an excellent measurement of how your game is improving and in an ideal world your handicap should always be reducing or staying the same – we did say ‘ideal’.

Benefits of the World Golf Handicap System

1) The WHS uses both the USGA Course Rating and the Slope Rating systems to evaluate the difficulty of the course based on the tee that the players use. 


2) The idea of a Course Handicap has also been introduced. Before each round, the golfer receives (or calculates) their handicap for that particular course and tee. 


3) The WHS also introduce Playing Conditions Calculations which adjusts the expected player’s scores (during course competitions) based on the course condition. The PCC has a range from -1 (when the course is playing easier) to +3 (when the circumstances make the course more difficult).


4) The maximum golf handicap has now been standardised at 54 – representing a three-over-par on each hole. 


5) The WHS has also introduced the Nett Double Bogey Adjustment which limits the maximum score on any hole to Nett double bogey ensuring that bad holes don’t impact your handicap too severely. The Stableford scoring approach works in a similar matter by the player scoring zero points for terrible holes. It hurts, but it does not ruin the entire round.


6) In the end, the golf handicap calculation changes are designed to ensure that your Handicap Index truly reflects your ability and that it gives you the strokes you need to do well and maximise your enjoyment. It might help reduce the “bandits.”

The Course Slope Rating

Some courses and scoring also use the SLOPE rating, this like the SSS, is used to help adjust play where the course you are playing is easy or difficult.


For example, your local course (we guess) is probably not as difficult to play as Carnoustie (try it for yourself). So Carnoustie will carry a higher slope rating, which is then used to level out your handicap calculation, giving you a bit more credit.

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