The NEW World Handicap System

World Handicap System
October 30 2020 | Golf


The new Golf Handicapping system, WHS, is due to commence in England on 2nd November 2020. The aim is to make the handicap system much more inclusive and accessible to all golfers and will incorporate the existing Rules of Handicapping as well as the Course Rating System.

Championship Course Handicap Table

Princes Course Handicap Table

In line with England Golf, we are now starting our programme of communication.

Why has the new world handicap system been created?
How does the world handicap system work?
Course and Slope Rating
Handicap Index
Course Handicap
Playing Handicap
General Play

Why has the new World Handicap System been created?

World Handicap System

How does the World Handicap System work?

World Handicap System

Course and Slope Rating

Click here to watch the England Golf Video which explains the course and slope rating.

Course Rating

The Golf Course Rating measures the playing difficulty of a golf course, in perfect conditions in mid-summer.

First, it measures how many strokes a scratch golfer (handicap 0) should take on a given course. The rating does this by assessing two main types of challenges:

Second, it measures how many strokes a “bogey” golfer, a player with handicap 18 – 24, will take to play the course. By definition, they don’t hit the ball as far as a scratch golfer and so will have a different experience playing the course and encounter different obstacles resulting in a different number of strokes being taken.

Knowing how many strokes a scratch and a bogey golfer will take to play the course gives 2 reference points and enables the slope to be determined.

Slope Rating

The slope rating is a key component in calculating the number of strokes each player receives to play a particular golf course, it allows:

A player’s Handicap Index to be portable from course to course and country to country.

Acceptable scores from any rated golf course in the world to be submitted on a consistent basis for handicap purposes.

The slope index has an average value of 113, determined when first calculated in the US this has become the accepted average slope value for the WHS system.

This means 113 is the slope value at which players play from their handicap index with no slope rating adjustment required. Slope rating values can vary from a low of 55 to a high of 155.

A higher slope rating than 113 means more additional strokes will be needed to play a course. A lower slope rating means fewer strokes will be required.

So, the course handicap for a player is determined by the course rating adjusted by the slope rating for their handicap index.

Handicap Index

Click here to watch the England Golf Video which explains the Handicap Index.

In our introduction to the new Worldwide Handicapping System (WHS) we now cover arguably the most important topic, Handicap Index.
A player’s Handicap Index is a measure of their playing ability which is portable to golf courses around England / the world.

What is a Handicap Index?

A Handicap Index:

It is calculated from the best 8 scores from the last 20 rounds.

As a new score is submitted, a player’s Handicap Index will automatically update to use the 20 most recent scores. It will update overnight after the submission of an acceptable score and should be ready before you next play.

How to obtain a Handicap Index?

When the new system comes into play in England most golfers will have a Handicap Index automatically generated based on their existing records.
If fewer than 20 scores are available to calculate a Handicap Index, a sliding scale is used.
For new golfers to gain their Handicap Index, they will have to submit a minimum of 54 holes (using any combination of 9 and 18 holes).

Initially, their Handicap Index will be the lowest of the three rounds minus two strokes, this will continue to be built until the 20 scores are achieved.

Handicap Index safeguards

To stabilise or safeguard your Handicap Index some controls have been built-in.
A Soft Cap and Hard Cap limit any extreme upward movement of a player’s Handicap Index within a 365-day period.

Restricting the extreme upward movement of a Handicap Index to no more than 5 shots above the low point will ensure that a player’s temporary loss of form does not cause the Handicap Index to move too far away from their actual ability.

Caps only start to take effect once a player has 20 acceptable scores in their record.

Course Handicap

After Handicap Index, the next step in the World Handicapping System is Course Handicap, watch this England Golf video for a quick summary.

Course Handicap

What is a Course Handicap?

A Course Handicap will determine the number of strokes a player will receive when playing from any set of tees on a given course.

Before a player starts their round, they must convert their Handicap Index into a Course Handicap.

How to work out a Course Handicap?

The Course Handicap calculation is:

Course Handicap (rounded) = Handicap Index x (Slope Rating / 113)

But don’t let this calculation concern you because working out a Course Handicap has been made simple.

England Golf has provided Course & Slope Rating tables ahead of the new System launching in November. These tables are already available on the Hever Castle Golf Club members area and will be placed in the Pro Shop and by the 1st tee for reference once WHS starts in November.

Golfers simply have to choose the tees they are playing off that day, look at the relevant Course & Slope Rating table and cross-reference their Handicap Index to ascertain the Course Handicap. It really is as simple as that.

If playing a competition, you will need to determine your Playing Handicap allowance, for example, 95% for singles stroke play. This allowance converts your Course handicap to a competition Playing handicap. This topic will be covered in the next document.

Playing Handicap

What is Playing Handicap?

Playing Handicap is the stroke allowance that a player will receive when playing in a competition.

It is important as it allows golfers to compete on a level playing field that should promote enjoyment and inclusivity.

The four most important aspects of Playing Handicap are:

How is it calculated?

Playing Handicap

In summary

We have covered 3 types of handicap, these are:

1. Handicap Index – which is your personal handicap

2. Course Handicap – which is your Handicap Index converted to a suitable handicap for the course you are playing

3. Playing Handicap – for competition only, it is your course handicap adjusted for the type of competition you are playing in.

General Play

How to submit a score?

After the completion of a round, a player should submit their scorecard as soon as possible in order for their Handicap Index to be updated.

Ideally, scores should be posted at the venue being played and on the same day, as this will be when a player’s Handicap Index will be updated.

Remember posting of scores is possible by players utilising the technology available at the golf club and for many clubs, including Hever Castle, via their mobile phone.

How to verify a score?

In order to verify a score and for it to count towards a player’s WHS, it must be played:

How does your score count towards the WHS?

Acceptable formats of play for submitting a score towards a player’s Handicap Index include:

Non-acceptable formats of play include a player’s individual score from a fourball better ball or other match play events.


Before playing golf under WHS, convert your Handicap Index to a Course Handicap relevant to the course you are playing. This can be done using the conversion tables available in the Pro Shop and at the 1st tee.

After finishing play please enter your score. This is so it can be used for calculating the adjustment of the playing conditions and to update your Handicap Index.