The World Handicap System launched (WHS) officially on 2nd November 2020 in England. Remind yourself of what it means for you?

Currently, there are 6 different handicap systems around the world. When the whole point of a handicap is to allow players of different abilities to be able to play together, having different handicap systems can actually work against you. The WHS will allow golfers to play any golf course, anywhere around the world on equal terms. It will also eliminate players of the same ability having different handicaps.

Current Handicap Systems

  • USGA Handicap System
  • EGA Handicap System
  • ONGU Unified Handicap System
  • South African Handicap System
  • Golf Australia Handicap System
  • Argentina Handicap System

What will the new system take into consideration?

  • Course rating and slope rating
  • Minimum number of scores to obtain a handicap
  • Competitive and recreational scores to count for handicap
  • Handicaps will be calculated from an average of recent scores
  • A maximum handicap of 54
  • Unusual course and weather conditions adjustments

As told by

Your Handicap Index

The Handicap Index will measure the level of golfer that you are, and is the information you take with you from course to course. For golfers who play regularly, the World Handicap System calculates the best 8 scores from 20 rounds. New golfers will have to submit 54 holes worth of golf for a handicap to be determined.

Course Rating

Each golf course will have its own rating. The Golf Course Rating will determine the difficulty of a the course by evaluating two challenges: the playing length of the course and any obstacles that a player will run into such as hazards.

Slope Rating

The Slope Rating compares the number of shots a Bogey Golfer and a Scratch Golfer would take from the same tees. This rating figures out the number of strokes each player will get to play a particular golf course. If a course has a higher Slope Rating, a Bogey Golfer will get more additional strokes to be able to play.

Your Course Handicap

The World Handicap System aims to make playing different courses more fair, so before you tee off at any course, you will now have to convert your Handicap Index into a Course Handicap, by assessing the Course Rating and Slope Rating. This will work out the number of additional strokes you will receive.

What’s your new Handicap?

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I grew up with the game, a competitive younger sister of a golf mad brother. Dabbled in greenkeeping, now managing content at Your Golf Travel. Still can't putt.


  • Pat Nolan says:

    I’m organising a golf holiday May 2021. 8 golfers to portugal. What is the best way to use the new WHS during the trip.

    • Gabby says:

      Hi Pat – All you need to do is all know your Handicap Index. When you get to each golf course, there will be a sign which easily shows the handicap index ranges, (which will change depending on the tees that you are playing from) this will show your Course Handicap.

      (The course itself will have already determined the slope/course rating – which is then applied to the H.I ranges board so you know how many shots you get.)

      Hope this helps!

  • Rod Saunders says:

    The WHS is all very well in theory, but it is still open to abuse.

    I regularly play with a friend at my local club, and over the past few months, he’s regularly beaten me of our handicap of 20.

    I have put in most of my best cards over the last couple of months, while he hasn’t (only mainly his competition cards).

    I have now been given a handicap under WHS of 18.2 at the club, the best handicap I’ve ever had at any of the clubs I’ve been a member, even though I am now 68. He has been given a handicap of 21!

    I can’t see how that can in any way be fair!

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