World Handicap System

The New WHS

In Great Britain & Ireland, the previous handicapping system, which was maintained by CONGU, has been replaced by one single, global system.

Under the new World Handicap System - which came into force in GB&I on 2nd November 2020 - players migrated from their existing golf club handicap and were supplied with a new Handicap Index. In most cases a golfers old handicap does not differ too much from their new Handicap Index.

However, when it’s time to compete, the Handicap Index must be converted to a Course Handicap and a Playing Handicap.

For competitors their Handicap Index will be converted on the day to a Course Handicap. The Course Handicap is calculated based on the Handicap Index of the golfer and the difficulty (course/slope rating) of the golf course for the set of tees used. A chart/table supplied by the golf club will easily inform the golfer what their Course Handicap will be at the venue.

Any handicap allowances applied in the event (eg: 85% in 4BBB) will then give the golfer a Playing Handicap for the competition.

As an example a golfer with a 24.2 Handicap Index may have a Course Handicap of 23 and if the event is a fourball betterball with an 85% handicap allowance this would reduce their Playing Handicap to 20.

Governing bodies advise that competition entry eligibility should be based on Handicap Index.

For open competitions we expect most golf clubs will set a Maximum Handicap Index for entry, this can be anything up to 54 and be different for men and ladies. You must have this Handicap Index or less in order to be able to enter the event.

In addition to this some golf clubs may also set a Maximum Course/Playing Handicap for the tournament (eg: 18) where players who have a higher calculated handicap may still play but they must reduce and compete off the maximum Course/Playing Handicap for the tournament.

Hopefully this explains the differences between Handicap Index, Course Handicap and Playing Handicap but should you require further information you can visit the World Handicap System website and if there is any doubt about any given event we would always advise confirming directly with the host club who are administering the tournament.


Handicap Index

A Handicap Index is designed so golfers will be able to maintain a handicap index and use this to compete on a fair and equal basis across any format, on any course around the world. Handicap Indexes are calculated to the nearest decimal. The maximum Handicap Index possible is 54.0.

Course Handicap

A Course Handicap is the number of strokes a player receives from a given set of tees based on the course/slope rating of the golf course prior to the application of any handicap allowances. Course Handicaps are calculated to the nearest whole number. Course Handicaps could potentially exceed 54.

Playing Handicap

Playing Handicap is a stroke allowance that is implemented in order to maintain the integrity of the WHS when used in competition. The Course Handicap converts to a Playing Handicap for competition purposes and changes depending on the format of play and the relevant handicap allowance. Playing Handicap is used to determine competition results.

Handicap Allowances

Below are the recommended WHS handicap allowances for the most popular formats.

· Individual Strokeplay/Stableford/Bogey = 95%

· Fourball Betterball Strokeplay/Stableford = 85%

· Foursomes = 50% combined

· Greensomes = 60% low hcp + 40% high hcp

· Team of 4 (best score) = 75%

· Team of 4 (best 2 scores) = 85%

· Team of 4 (best 3 scores) = 100%

· Team of 4 Scramble = 25%/20%/15%/10% from lowest to highest handicap

· Pairs Scramble = 25% low/15% high

· Individual Matchplay = 100%

· Fourball Betterball Matchplay = 90%