World Handicap System


In January 2020, the USGA and The R&A joined forces with the six existing world handicapping authorities to create a single set of Rules for Handicapping. The new World Handicap System will enable golfers of different abilities to play and compete on a fair and equal basis, no matter how or where they play.

World Handicap System Changes and Informational Videos:

Daily Revisions
Net Double Bogey

Maximum Handicap
Handicap Review
Exceptional Score
Hard and Soft Caps
Playing Handicap
Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC)
No Score Submitted

The handicapping authorities include: Golf Australia, the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) in Great Britain and Ireland, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA), the Argentine Golf Association (AAG) and the USGA. They represent approximately 15 million golfers in 80 countries who currently have a golf handicap.

The World Handicap System has been a multi-year collaboration between The USGA and The R&A, as well as national and regional golf associations around the world to introduce one set of Rules of Handicapping, aimed to support modernizing, growing and improving accessibility of the sport.

For more information about the World Handicapping System, visit

Handicapping Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the World Handicap System (WHS) all about?

Golf already has a single set of playing Rules, a single set of equipment Rules and a single set of Rules of Amateur Status overseen by the USGA and The R&A. Yet, today there are six different handicap systems used around the world. The WHS unifies the six systems into a single system that:

  • Enables golfers of different ability to play and compete on a fair and equitable basis, in any format, on any course, anywhere around the world;
  • Is easy to understand and implement without sacrificing accuracy; and
  • Meets the varied needs and expectations of golfers, golf clubs and golf authorities all around the world and is adaptable to suit all golfing cultures.

The WHS will encompass both the Rules of Handicapping and the Course Rating System.

2. What are the benefits of the World Handicap System? 

The development of a single handicap system will result in easier administration and the opportunuty to focus on golf development and planning to support the sport. It will also provide the opportunity to help monitor the health of the game.

How will it impact my handicap?

1. I see my Handicap Index will change under the WHS. Why?

Your new handicap is based on the average of your eight best scores out of your most recent 20 instead of the old way which was 10. In most cases, golfers will see a change in their index.

2.  Someone asks me what my handicap is when we’re standing on the first tee.  What do I tell them?

Start with your Handicap Index. Your Handicap Index forms the basis for your Course and Playing Handicap.

Slope Rating and now Course Rating and par are used to determine your Course Handicap, which represents the number of strokes you'll need to play to par.

Your Playing Handicap is the actual number of strokes you give or receive for the round being played. It is typically the same number as your Course Handicap. The exception is when a term of competition applies such as a handicap allowance used for equity in certain formats of play.

3.  I play in a group where we all play from different tees. Do we still have to make a Course Handicap adjustment when we play?

Under the current system a Course Handicap adjustment is required when players compete from different tees since each set of tees has a different Course Rating. Under the Rules of Handicapping, your Course Handicap factors in both Course Rating and Par, meaning an adjustment is only necessary when par is different. 

4.  Let’s say I have a Course Handicap of 9 and the 2nd-ranked Stroke Index hole is a par 4. I hit my drive out of bounds and continued to struggle on the hole so I picked up. Will I be able to post a score for handicap purposes?

Whenever the format of play allows, you are encouraged to pick up once you've reached your maximum hole score for handicap purposes, which is Net Double Bogey.

Net Double Bogey = Double Bogey + any handicap strokes received on a hole. 

5.  Sometimes I submit a score when the course was playing really tough due to weather conditions or placement of hole locations. I don’t feel that the score I posted is an accurate reflection of how I played. Will the Rules of Handicapping address this?

Under the Rules of Handicapping a Playing Conditions Calculation will account for this and adjust players' Score Differentials to better reflect their actual performance. This calculation is driven by scores posted at a golf course on a given day. Any adjustment will be clearly identified in the player's scoring record for transparency. 

6.  I normally post my scores for the week on Sunday night to make sure they’re included in the next revision. Can I still do this under the Rules of Handicapping?

Under the Rules of Handicapping, you should submit your scores the day you play for two reasons:

  • Daily Revisions - Each time you submit a score, that score will be factored into the calculation of your handicap index to use the very next day.
  • Playing Conditions Calculation - It uses scores submitted each day to determine any adjustment for abnormal playing conditions.
  • By submitting your scores the day you play, you ensure that your Handicap Index will be a responsive and up-to-date indicator of your ability. No excuses anymore, please be sure to post all your scores in a timely fashion!

7. There’s a golfer in my league who always tends to play well during net competitions and wins often. are there provisions in place to ensure that everyone is playing on a fair level?

Under the Rules of Handicapping, there are several new safeguards to ensure the integrity of a player's Handicap Index.

Soft Cap and a Hard Cap limit extreme upward movement of a Handicap Index over a rolling 12-month timeframe and an Exceptional Score Reduction reduces a player's Handicap Index each time they submit a score that produces a Score Differential at least 7.0 strokes below their Handicap Index.

A club's Handicap Committee will also have access to reporting tools that provide additional oversight. In addition, the Committee in charge of a competition can protect the field by modifying a player's Playing Handicap before or between rounds when appropriate.

8.  What if I don’t have a Handicap Index? How can I get one?

We warmly welcome you and the WHS was designed for you. If you are in the U.S., we recommend you contact the RIGA for the next steps. It will only take 54 holes to establish a handicap and be a part of the World Handicap System.

For more information click here.