Get ready folks there is a new handicapping system on its way. For those across the pond things will not be much different but for golfers in the UK, and to a slightly lesser extent Europe, there is a fair bit changing. The new World Handicap System will be introduced in the USA and dozens of other countries in January 2020 with the changes coming to the UK, Sweden, Portugal and Italy in November.
We have swotted up and as usual its all a bit complicated but hopefully the following will give you the basics of what you need to know.
What is the World Handicap System?
The World Handicap System consolidates the half dozen or so handicap calculations previously used around the world into one single, portable system
How is a World Handicap calculated?
The system makes an average based calculation of a handicap, based on the best eight out of the last twenty scores. There is a safety mechanism to ensure that a player’s handicap cannot increase by more than 5 shots during a 12 month period.
Is there still a maximum score a player can take on a hole?
Yes. The golfing bodies had different methods for limiting the score that counted on a hole and thus perhaps safeguarding against manipulation (Who would do such a thing? Ed). The WHS also has a maximum, limiting a players score on a hole to a Net Double Bogey. So for example, if a players gets a stroke at a par 5 hole the maximum score he can take is a 8 (net 7).
What is the maximum handicap for men and women?
There is a new limit of 54, regardless of gender. Look out as World as GolfPunk predicts some eyewatering scores at clubs which allow handicaps this high!
What about the impact of bad weather on a round?
There is a “playing conditions calculation” (PCC) that adjusts how your score impacts your handicap Index depending on the average of all scores posted at that course on the day. For example, if high winds or pouring rain cause you to shoot a higher score than normal you will not suffer (that much!). The WHS algorithm accounts for this to keep the score from negatively affecting your Index, particularly if all scores that day were high.
This is similar to the calculation of the competition scratch score that is currently carried out by clubs for all competitions.
What is the Course rating?
The course rating system (used in the USA) is replacing the standard scratch score (SSS) in the new system and represents the score that a scratch golfer is expected to achieve on a course. Clubs will need to update the ratings for their courses.
It is the course rating, or SSS that a handicap is measured against rather than the par for the given course.
What is this slope thing all about?
The Slope Rating represents the relative difficulty of a course from a specific set of tees for a ‘bogey golfer’ compared to a ‘scratch’ golfer. A course with many hazards, long carries and thick rough will have a higher slope rating because these features present more of a challenge to bogey golfers. To obtain a golfer’s handicap for a specific course you multiply the player’s Handicap Index by the ratio of the course Slope Rating divided by the ‘neutral’ slope, which is defined as 113.
So that begs the question what is a ‘bogey’ golfer?
Apparently, a male ‘bogey golfer’ is a typical 20 handicapper who hits the ball about 200 yards with a driver and 170 yards with a fairway wood. The female equivalent of a ‘bogey golfer’ is a typical 24 handicapper.
So, there you have it. Confused? You should be but don’t worry one of those computer thingies will sort it out. Oh and the Brigadier is not happy that he falls in the category of a ‘bogey golfer’!
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