Following an in-depth review by six existing handicapping authorities, including the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU), a new World Handicap System (WHS) developed by The R&A and USGA is set to be implemented in 2020.

The aim is to encourage more people to play golf, and allow them to transport their handicap anywhere in the world and compete on an equitable basis.

Although full details are still to be revealed, certain features of the WHS were announced earlier this year, including:

  • Flexibility in formats of play, allowing both competitive and recreational rounds to count for handicap purposes and ensuring a golfer’s handicap is more reflective of potential ability.
  • A consistent handicap that is portable from course to course and country to country through worldwide use of the USGA Course and Slope Rating System, already successfully used in more than 80 countries.
  • An average-based calculation of a handicap, taken from the best eight out of the last 20 scores and factoring in memory of previous demonstrated ability for better responsiveness.
  • A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions might have on a player’s performance each day.
  • Daily handicap revisions, taking account of the course and weather conditions calculation.
  • 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.

The system should certainly be more representative of a golfer’s current playing ability and we could see greater changes in an individual’s handicap over shorter periods of time.

For those who play a significant amount of golf, there could be significant variances.

With the best eight of the last 20 rounds to count towards handicap calculations, and with both competitive and recreational (bounce) rounds being considered, a golfer who plays five times a week could see a brand-new set of 20 rounds being considered each month.

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