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The Dawn of the World Handicap System

Beginning on January 1, you will have a handicap that can be used anywhere in the world, and it will be a little different than what you have now.

Your new handicap will be based on fewer scores than at present, it will update more frequently, it will take into account weather and other unusual conditions, and it will, unlike the old system, take par into consideration. Of course, most of this is done for you. Here’s what you need to know about the World Handicap System. 

1. Your Handicap Index may change. But that’s ok! Finally, players around the world will have an apples-to-apples handicap. Your new Handicap Index will be more responsive to good scores by averaging your eight (8) best scores out of your most recent 20 (currently, it’s 10 out of 20 with a .96 multiplier). In short, your Handicap Index will be determined by your demonstrated ability and consistency of scores. In most cases for golfers in the U.S., it will change less than one stroke.

2. You need to know your Course Handicap. In the new system, your Course Handicap will be the number of strokes needed to play to par. This will result in greater variance in that number and presents a change, as historically your Course Handicap has represented the number of strokes needed to play to the Course Rating. This is a good thing, as par is an easy number to remember. Target score for the day? Par plus Course Handicap. The Course Rating will now be inherent within the calculation to be more intuitive and account for competing from different tees.

3. Net Double Bogey. When posting your total score, the maximum hole score for each player will be limited to a Net Double Bogey. This adjustment is more consistent from hole to hole than the Equitable Stroke Control procedure. Net Double Bogey is already used in many other parts of the world and the calculation is simple: Par + 2 + any handicap strokes you receive.

4. Your Handicap Index will be revised daily. One way that handicapping is being modernized is a player’s Handicap Index will update daily (which will provide a fairer indication of a player’s ability in the moment), if the player submitted a score the day before. On days where the player does not submit a score, no update will take place.

5. There are safeguards in the new system. The new system will limit extreme upward movement of a Handicap Index, automatically and immediately reduce a Handicap Index when an exceptional score of at least 7 strokes better is posted, and account for abnormal course or weather conditions to ensure that scores reflect when a course plays significantly different than its established Course Rating and Slope Rating. These safeguards help maintain accuracy of a Handicap Index, greater integrity within the system and promote fun and fair play for golfers of all abilities.

Some other things to remember, not all new:

—Acceptable scores: All of the following are acceptable scores:

•        When at least seven holes are played (7-12 holes are posted as a 9-hole score, 13 or more are posted as an 18-hole score)

•        Scores on all courses with a valid Course Rating and Slope Rating

•        Scores in all forms of competition: match play, stroke play and team competitions

•        Scores made under the Rules of Golf

•        Scores made under the local rule of “preferred lies”

•        Scores made in an area observing an active season

—Scores not acceptable. Scores made while playing alone are not acceptable, but a score played by oneself that is observed by a marker, for example, is. The USGA does not permit the posting of solo-round scores because of the lack of peer review in such cases.

—GHIN Mobile App. If you use the GHIN Mobile App for Android and IOS devices to post scores and check your handicap, you will be unable to access the app between January 1 and January 5. You will be prompted to update the app on your device once it is released January 6th. The new GHIN Mobile App fully supports the new Rules of Handicapping under the World Handicap System and includes several enhancements including the ability to post hole by hole scores and track a number playing statistics and view related summary data.

Source: USGA