World Handicap System

USGA World Handicap System The USGA & The R&A announced updates to the World Handicap System™, effective January 2024.

Introduced in January 2020, the World Handicap System (WHS) was based upon three key principles: be inclusive, provide a consistent measure of ability, and remain modern. Four years later, with the first revision to the WHS set for this January, those same principles apply to the main changes going into effect, namely:

  1. A lower minimum length for a golf course to obtain a Course Rating™ and Slope Rating™
    Under the current system, an 18-hole course must be at least 3,000 yards to receive a Course Rating and Slope Rating (or 1,500 yards for 9 holes). Starting in 2024, the yardage requirements will be cut in half, to 1,500 and 750 yards, respectively. This is good news for golfers who regularly play par-3 and shorter-length courses and have wanted those scores to count toward their Handicap Index®.
  2. A new treatment of 9-hole scores
    Today, 9-hole scores are combined in the order posted to create an 18-hole Score Differential™. This means that a 9-hole score shot today could be combined with a 9-hole score from days, weeks, or even months before – which can lead to volatile results.
    Beginning in 2024, when a player posts a 9-hole score, it will be combined with their expected Score Differential over 9 holes to create an 18-hole Score Differential for immediate use – with expected score based on the player’s Handicap Index at the time the round is played as well as a course of standard difficulty.
  3. An updated approach for holes not played
    At present when a hole isn’t played (due to darkness, for example), the score recorded is a net par. When the 2024 revision goes into effect, when 10-17 holes are played, an 18-hole Score Differential will be determined by adding the player’s Score Differential from the holes played to an expected Score Differential for the number of holes not played. Since a player’s expected score is not specific to a course or reliant upon the course’s stroke index allocation (as net par is today), this will lead to more consistency.

2024 World Handicapping System Update Resources: