Handicap System FAQ

Q: Why was the new World Handicap System introduced? 

A: As there is one standard set of rules in golf, it made sense to unify the six different handicapping systems currently in operation. This will make the game more inclusive and equitable across the world.

Q: How will WHS prevent handicap manipulation? 

A: Event organisers still have responsibilities to manage and administer events which are fair to all competitors. Under WHS, if a player fails to submit a score for a pre-registered round, Scottish Golf will apply an automatic penalty score. The committee then will have the option to investigate further. The penalty score will show on the player’s record as such.

Q: What is a Slope Rating? 

A: The Slope Rating indicates the difficulty of a golf course for the ‘Bogey’ golfer relative to the ‘Scratch’ golfer. The Course Rating indicates the number of strokes the Scratch Golfer is expected to take from a set of tees under normal playing conditions. The course is also rated for a ‘Bogey Golfer’ and it is the relationship between the two ratings which indicates the slope rating.

Q: What is a Bogey Golfer? 

A: This is a term used when carrying out a Course Rating. It represents the ability of a golfer (20 handicap for men, 24 for women) on a course of average difficulty. 

Q: What is the range of Slope Rating values? 

A: Slope Rating values range from 55 through to 155  

Q: How do I obtain a Handicap Index? 

A: Score cards totalling 54 holes need to be returned to the Handicap Committee (3×18 holes, 6×9 holes or a combination of both) before an initial Handicap Index can be awarded. 

Q: How do I calculate my Course Handicap? 

A: Golf Clubs will either provide a relevant calculation table. Alternatively, golfers can calculate this manually using the equation formula below: Handicap Index X (slope rating ÷ 113) = Course Handicap 

Q: Can I use my Handicap Index abroad? 

A: Yes – you will be able to convert your handicap index to a course handicap for the tees you play from overseas. If pre-registered, these scores can be returned to your home club for handicap purposes 

Q: If my Handicap Index is calculated to one decimal point, what will be my exact Handicap? 

A: A player’s Handicap Index is calculated to one decimal place. When the Course Handicap is calculated it will be rounded to the nearest integer. 

Q: What is the maximum Course Handicap if the maximum Handicap Index is 54? 

A: The Course Handicap will likely exceed 54.0 if playing a course with a slope rating of 114 or higher. There is no maximum Course Handicap. 

Q: Do I enter competitions using my Handicap Index or my Course Handicap? 

A: Competition entry should be based on your handicap index. This will be clarified in the terms of the competition. 

Q: As a golfer who plays a very small number of competitions, I suspect I will not have 20 scores recorded over the last two years. Can I still have a Handicap Index?

 A: Yes, those players who did not have the full 20 scores at transition will have had a Handicap Index allocated by the same process as an initial Handicap Index would be allocated and developed. Moving forward you will be able to submit both social and competitive scores to build up a fully developed handicap record. Players are encouraged to return sufficient scores, either in competitions or by ‘General Play’ (supplementary) scores to reach the magic 20 scores. This will create a Handicap Index indicative of current playing ability. 

Q: For how long are my last 20 scores valid? And what happens if I have a break in membership? 

A: A Score continues to be part of the Handicap index calculation as long as it remains within a player’s most recent 20 scores recorded, regardless of the age of the score. Your Handicap Index will only be valid if you are a member of an affiliated golf club. 

Q: What will happen to my Handicap Index if I have a good round? 

A: The score will very probably become part of the ‘best eight’ calculation and you will likely see a reduction in your Handicap Index. An additional ‘exceptional score’ reduction may be applied depending on how good your score was compared to your current Handicap Index. 

Q: Will I use my full Course Handicap or are there allowances for different formats of play? 

A: There will still be allowances for events which have been revised and are based on historical playing data. As an example, playing handicaps will be 95% of course handicaps in stroke play (inc. Stableford) competitions.

Q: I’m struggling to play to my current handicap from white tees. Will the new system make things even more difficult for me? 

A: Not at all. With an averaging system, your Handicap Index will be responsive to your current ability. You are also encouraged to play from a shorter tee set (such as the new men’s ‘Red’ tee course which now has a formal rating), as the system will calculate a Course Handicap from your Handicap Index for that set of tees. 

Q: How long will it take the committee to calculate Handicap Index changes? 

A: The system will automatically update at midnight. This is completed via central software, not by the club. However the Handicap Committee will still be able to complete relevant reviews and communicate these to members. 

Q: How will WHS affect the CSS value? 

A: A daily Playing Conditions Calculation (similar to CSS) is calculated from all scores from all tees during that day. Scores must be returned as soon as possible and before midnight. The PCC is applied to the handicap calculations for all players, not just those playing from specific tees. 

Q: As a club, do we need any special equipment or hardware for WHS? 

A: Clubs must employ a system which allows golfers to register before play and return scores. Ideally, this should be via an online system. Conversion tables to allow a handicap index to be translated into a course handicap will be available in a prominent place. 

Q: Do results need to be processed on the day of the event or can they be done later the next week? 

A: Results should be processed promptly to ensure scores have been entered correctly. However, WHS does not rely on a competition being closed to update Handicap records. 

Q: Will we still be using Systems such as Club V1? 

A: Yes. Scottish Golf have licenced Club V1 to allow them to work in tandem with the new WHS CDH. It is the aim that golf clubs will see little or no disruption to handicap services. Scottish Golf offers a similar system to V1/HowDidiDo and this is to be investigated by the committee.

Q: What formats of play are defined as acceptable for Handicap purposes? 

A: Competition or social (general play) scores from Medal, Stableford, Par/Bogey and Max Score – as a single golfer. Team and pairs formats are currently not acceptable. If other formats are played outside GB&I and are acceptable in the jurisdiction in which they were played, then they will also be acceptable for your handicap record. Please note: additional playing history from other formats/events may be used during annual reviews by the Handicap Committee. 

Q: What do I need to do when I arrive to play golf? 

A: For formal club competitions, register/sign in as normal. Utilise the resources available to determine your Course Handicap for the set of tees being used. Check the Handicap allowance according to the terms of competition or format of play (i.e. full handicap, percentage of handicap) and calculate your Playing Handicap for that event, but don’t worry, the system will do the calculations for you! Once play is complete, return your score for processing or enter it on the Scottish Golf app/clubhouse terminal. For ‘General Play’ (supplementary) rounds, the intent to submit a score MUST be registered on the Scottish Golf app if available to the player AND with the professional before starting a round and all scores must be validated by a playing partner.

Q: Do I have to record all scores? 

A: No. Players should submit all competition scores and they have the ability to pre-register and submit scores from general play games played in accordance with the rules of golf should they wish to (see above regarding registering intent). Accuracy of a player’s Handicap Index will be improved the greater the number of scorecards submitted. 

Q: What happens if I do not complete my round? 

A: If you are playing a nine-hole round – then all 9 holes must be played for the score to be included in your record. If playing an 18-hole round you must complete at least 10 holes for the score to be returned. Any holes not played will be allocated a net par or net par plus one, before the score is processed. 

Q: Will buffer zones still exist? 

A: No – buffer zones will not be part of the World Handicap System. 

Q: Can players still N/R and gain a 0 .1 increase? 

A: There are no 0.1 increases under WHS. A hole that is started but not completed will be recorded as a net double bogey. Any holes not played will be allocated as a net par. The adjusted score is added to the player’s record. 

Q: What happens during the winter months when there are no formal competitions run by the club? 

A: After the introduction of WHS, clubs may still have a recognised playing season. However, as long as the course is playing to its measured length and the rules of golf are followed, players will be able to return scores throughout the year from authorised formats. 

Q: When playing other courses can I submit a score card to my home club? 

A: Yes – you can record all pre-registered scores that follow the rules of golf, are authorised formats of play and are validated by a playing partner.

Q: How can my work/pub golf society access and use the WHS calculations? 

A: In short, they can’t. WHS Handicap Indexes will only be available to affiliated golf club members. However, if an individual playing in a society outing is also a member of a golf club that person can pre-register with his club an intent to hand in a card from an event played according to the rules of golf.