World Handicap System

World Handicap System

Information for members



The new World Handicap System (WHS) will be introduced on 2nd November 2020.

To help members to understand the new system we have collated information about the WHS and the considerations for our club.

WHS is designed to attract more players to the game, make handicapping easier to understand and to give all golfers a Handicap Index that can be transferrable from club to club.

Developed by The R&A and USGA in collaboration with existing handicap authorities, the benefit of the WHS over the current system is it combines the Rules of Handicapping and the Course Rating System. WHS will replace the current CONGU handicapping system.

Transition to WHS
For regular golfers, a new Handicap Index will be calculated by the WHS Software from the average of the best eight scores from the previous 20 rounds since 1st January 2018. If you have not submitted 20 qualifying scores since then, a method similar to the allocation of Handicap Index for new golfers will be used (taking into account scores already registered).

New golfers will have to submit scorecards of 54 holes (3 x 18 holes, 6 x 9 holes or any combination of 9 and 18 holes) to the Handicap Committee. From this, they will be provided with an initial Handicap Index. After a player has achieved 20 scores, a ‘fully developed’ Handicap Index can be calculated to provide the most accurate representation of a player’s ability.

The function and use of the new Handicap Index is explained on this page, along with all of the elements of the new system.

Best regards

Competition & Handicap Committees
September 2020


Course Rating & Bogey Rating

What is Course Rating?

Golf Course Rating will be used to measure the playing difficulty of a golf course. It measures how many strokes a Scratch Golfer (a player who can play to a Course Handicap of zero on all rated golf courses) should take on any given course.

The rating does this by assessing two main types of challenges which, when combined, result in a common base from which to compare players’ abilities:

  • The playing length of the course
  • The obstacles that a player will encounter (e.g. size of green and hazards)

A Bogey Rating is the measure of playing difficulty from a set of tees when played by a Bogey Golfer (a player who has a Course Handicap of approximately 20 for a male and 24 for a female).

Knowing the Course Rating and Bogey Rating allows the WHS to assess and rationalise the relationship between the two.

Slope Rating

What is Slope Rating?
Slope Rating is the number which indicates the relative playing difficulty of a course for Bogey Golfers, compared to Scratch Golfers.

It is the difficulty comparison between a Bogey Golfer and a Scratch Golfer from the same set of tees.(In simple terms it is the combination of the Course Rating and the Bogey Rating, which allows us to calculate the Slope Rating of a set of tees)

The use of Slope allows a player’s Handicap Index to be portable from course to course and country to country. It also enables acceptable scores from any rated golf course in the world to be submitted for a player’s handicap purposes.

The Slope Rating is a key component in calculating the number of strokes each player receives to play a particular golf course. Each set of tees will have a Slope Rating value between 55 and 155.


Bogey Rating

Course Rating




Slope Rating

The higher the Slope Rating, the more additional strokes a Bogey Golfer will need to be able to play it. The lower the Slope Rating, the less strokes a Bogey Golfer will require.

The Slope Ratings are gender specific and the tee which a golfer plays from must have a Slope Rating for each gender.

113 is the Slope Rating value where all players play from their Handicap Index (i.e. the course is as equally hard for both Scratch and Bogey players).

Middlesbrough Golf Club Course & Slope Rating

In September 2018 our course was given a Course Rating & Slope Rating:

Handicap Index

What is a Handicap Index?

Golfers will consider the Handicap Index to be the most important element of the WHS.

The Handicap Index will:

  • Measure the ability of a player
  • Be portable from course to course
  • Allow players to complete fairly and therefore promote inclusivity within the game

A Handicap Index is calculated from the best eight scores from the last 20 rounds.

When the new system comes into play most golfers can have a Handicap Index generated, based on their existing records.

For new golfers to gain their Handicap Index they will have to submit a minimum of 54 holes (using any combination of 9 and 18 holes). Their Handicap Index will be the lowest of their three rounds minus two strokes and continue to be built until the 20 scores are achieved.

How to safeguard a Handicap Index?

A Soft Cap and Hard Cap will be implemented to limit any extreme upward movement of a player’s Handicap Index within a 365-day period. This has been introduced to act as a safeguard to prevent any handicap manipulation.

The Soft Cap will suppress movement by 50% after a 3.0 stroke increase over a player’s Low Handicap Index. For clarity in this instance, a Low Handicap Index is the lowest Handicap Index a player has had during the previous 12-month period.

The Hard Cap will restrict upward movement on 5.0 strokes over the Low Handicap Index.

Restricting the extreme upward movement of a Handicap Index will ensure that a player’s temporary loss of form does not cause the Handicap Index to move too far away from their actual ability.

Caps only start to take effect once a player has at least 20 acceptable scores in their record.

Transition to WHS

Under the WHS you will have a Handicap Index.

This will be computed as the average of the best 8 of your last 20 qualifying scores posted since 1st January 2018. If you have not posted 20 qualifying scores since then a method similar to allocating a new handicap will be used.

Between the date that the course becomes qualifying and the 2nd November 2020 you are encouraged to play in as many individual strokeplay competitions as possible, over either 9 or 18 holes.

The more cards submitted until 2nd November the more likely that on transition to the WHS your new Handicap Index will reflect your actual playing ability.

Some test runs have indicated that in transition to the WHS your new Handicap Index is likely to be different from your current Playing Handicap e.g.

  • Currently 6 and below – maybe down by 1
  • 6 – 12 – maybe up or down by 1
  • 12 – 18 – maybe up by 1
  • 18 – 24 – up by 1 or 2
  • 24+ – up by 2 or 3

(If ability has been declining then your Handicap Index will go up more than for steady players because currently handicaps have only increased by 0.1 each time).

Course Handicap

What is Course Handicap?

Before any player starts their round they must convert their Handicap Index into a Course Handicap.

The Course Handicap will determine the number of strokes a player will receive for any set of tees on a course.

An easy way for a player to remember the WHS, is to think HCP!

It’s as easy as HCP!

H – Handicap Index

C – Course Handicap

P – Play

How to work out a Course Handicap?

England Golf will provide Course & Slope Rating tables to all golf clubs. Tables will be positioned in conspicuous locations around the club to make it simple for golfers to find prior to beginning their round.

The Course Handicap Tables for our club are available here.

Golfers simply have to choose the tees they are playing off that day and cross reference their Handicap Index on the Course & Slope Rating table to ascertain their Course Handicap. It really is as simple as that – they’re then ready to get out on the course and play!

Manually working out your Course Handicap

Your Handicap Index is multiplied by the Slope Rating for the course tee being played and then divided by the Neutral Slope Rating of 113.

Handicap Index
(Slope Rating / 113)
Course Handicap (rounded)

For example, if the Slope Rating of the White tees on a course was say 127, then if your Handicap Index is :

10.0 then 10 x 127 ÷ 113 = 11.2
20.0 then 20 x 127 ÷ 113 = 22.5
30.0 then 30 x 127 ÷ 113 = 33.7

Good News! – charts will be available at each club and in the PSI software used on the club terminals and phone Apps will be available. So you will not need to do the calculation yourself.

Playing Handicap

What is Playing Handicap?

Playing Handicap is a stroke allowance that is implemented in order to maintain the integrity of the WHS when used in competition. It allows golfers to compete on a level playing field, regardless of their Handicap Index.

The Course Handicap converts to a Playing Handicap for competition purposes and changes depending on the format of play. For example: Individual Stroke Play (Medal, Bogey/Par & Stableford) Allowance is 95%.

The four most important aspects of Playing Handicap to remember are:

  • It is only used for competition purposes
  • It ensures equity to calculate competition results (via Handicap Allowances)
  • Golfers do not need to calculate it (it is generated before their round)
  • Golfers should continue to play in the mindset of their Course Handicap in competition rounds

General Play & Competition Rounds

How to submit a score?

After the completion of a competition round, a player has to submit their scorecard as soon as possible in order for their Handicap Index to be updated. Preferably, scores should be posted at the venue being played and on the same day, as this will be when a player’s Handicap Index will be updated.


Posting of scores is possible by players utilising the technology/apps available at their golf club. There will be sanctions for non-submission of scores.



How to verify a score?

In order to verify a score and for it to count towards a players WHS, it must be played:

  • In accordance with The Rules of Golf
  • In an authorised format of play
  • Over a minimum number of holes
  • With at least one other person
  • On a course with a current Course Rating and Slope Rating

How your score counts towards the WHS?

Acceptable formats of play for submitting a score towards a player’s Handicap Index include:

  • Pre-registered general play ‘social’ scores
  • All individual competition rounds (Medal, Bogey/Par & Stableford), both 9 and 18 holes, whether played at home or away

Non-Acceptable formats of play for submitting a score towards a player’s Handicap Index include:

  • Scores from fourball better ball
  • Other team and matchplay events

For golfers playing in recreational rounds with friends, either in teams or pairs, even when there is no intention of submitting a score for handicap purposes, they will need to calculate their Course Handicap prior to their round.

Playing Conditions Calculation

This adjustment is made automatically by the software to take account of abnormal course or weather conditions. It looks at all the scores submitted on the course for that day and determines if the course or weather conditions on the day differed from “Normal” expected scores. This is a bit like the current CSS adjustment. The adjustment will however be conservative in nature. In easy conditions it may adjust the gross score for the round by 1 or increase the gross by up to 3 in difficult conditions.


No “Competition” handicap status, “C” status

No handicap categories, currently Categories 1 – 6

No Standard Scratch

No 0.1 handicap increases

No Buffer Zones in determining handicap adjustments


From late October the England Golf Club Platform will be fully operational.  Golfers will be able to view their predicted handicap index on the England Golf website.  Members can register here.
Further information regarding the introduction of the World Handicap System can be found on the England Golf website here:



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