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2024 Changes to the World Handicap System (WHS)


DaveP043

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I haven't read this in detail, but I ran into a copy of the 2024 USGA version of the World Handicap System. 

https://www.scga.org/pdfs/2024 Rules of Handicapping (V1).pdf

One difference I see right now, if you play 10 holes, you'll end up posting an 18-hole score.  You need to play 9 to post 9.  If you don't play all the holes, you'll be required to post hole by hole for the ones you did play, the system will take care of the rest.  9-hole scores will immediately be entered into a Player's scoring record, with the second 9 being calculated by the system (expected score, you can read how it will be done).  I'm sure there are more changes, we'll certainly be talking about them.

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Dave

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These are, IMO, some pretty big changes. Nine hole scores will be "calculated" to be 18-hole scores, and even if you play 10 holes you'll get an 18-hole score. No longer will the 7-hole and 14-hole minimums be required: it's now 9 and every score is posted as an 18-hole score.

The quicker link and place to read it is here. It's written by Kevin O’Connor. He was previously Director of Handicapping for the USGA before he went to SCGA.


Treatment of Nine-Hole Scores

When a player posts a nine-hole score, the WHS will automatically calculate an 18-hole Score Differential™ for the round, based on the player’s nine-hole Score Differential and their current Handicap Index®, allowing the nine-hole round to be considered in the player’s Handicap Index calculation right away.

The Score Differential will be a combination of the nine holes played along with an expected score based on the player’s Handicap Index. It is important to note that the expected score is based on the average Score Differential of a player with a given Handicap Index and a normal distribution of scores — so it is not specific to each player. The expected score is not course specific and not related to the nine-holes played. As an example, it is not the “back nine” of a course if the nine-hole score played was the front nine.
Note 1: If fewer than nine holes are played, the score is not acceptable for handicap purposes.
Note 2: Play of a rated nine is required for a score to be acceptable for handicap purposes.

The above is significantly different than what has happened historically when a player has posted a nine-hole score. An 18-hole Score Differential has been created by combining two nine-hole Score Differentials. This resulted in a nine-hole score waiting to be combined, sometimes for a significant time until another nine-hole score has been posted. The new procedure will be far more responsive and equitable.

10-17 Hole Scores

Rounds of 10 to 17 holes receive an 18-hole Score Differential with an expected score value for holes not played. When 10-17 holes have been played, a value is calculated from the holes played (must include a rated nine). Then, the expected score procedure is used for any holes not played. Lastly, these values are added to determine the 18-hole Score Differential.
Note: The player will be required to post their score hole by hole when 10-17 holes are played, so the appropriate Score Differential can be calculated from the holes that were played to combine with the expected score for the holes not played. Scoreposting tools will provide this capability.

The new procedure differs from what is in place today. Currently, when 10 to 13 holes are played, scores made on holes 10 through 13 are disregarded and a nine-hole score is posted. When 14-17 holes are played, net par is used for the remaining holes to allow an 18-hole score to be posted. The new procedure generally eliminates the use of net par for holes not played.

Handicap Review

Handicap Review is an integral part of WHS, with such a review recommended at least annually for members of a club. Handicap administration software will include additional reports, analyses and notifications to identify players with abnormal scores and provide recommended actions for the Handicap Committee to consider. In certain scenarios, this will include a recommended amount of adjustment to the Handicap Index. This enhancement does not preclude a Handicap Committee from acting in relation to the Handicap Index for other reasons.

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Erik J. Barzeski —  I knock a ball. It goes in a gopher hole. 🏌🏼‍♂️
Director of Instruction Golf Evolution • Owner, The Sand Trap .com • AuthorLowest Score Wins
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As a player who plays lots of 9 hole rounds I am not sure I like this.  I may think differently after giving it more thought but my initial take is that a page % of my “holes” would be auto-populated.  I typically golf 25-30 nine-hole rounds per year and maybe 10-12 full rounds.  I could have neatly a third system calculated holes 

my concern is will that skew my HCP significantly?

the concern may not be valid since they are using differentials, etc, to fill in the blanks so maybe not an issue?

 

 

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Stuart M.
 

I am a "SCRATCH GOLFER".  I hit ball, Ball hits Tree, I scratch my head. 😜

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10 hours ago, StuM said:

As a player who plays lots of 9 hole rounds I am not sure I like this.  I may think differently after giving it more thought but my initial take is that a page % of my “holes” would be auto-populated.  I typically golf 25-30 nine-hole rounds per year and maybe 10-12 full rounds.  I could have neatly a third system calculated holes 

my concern is will that skew my HCP significantly?

the concern may not be valid since they are using differentials, etc, to fill in the blanks so maybe not an issue?

 

 

The expected score is pretty easy to figure out. I will read into it, but I play a few 9 hole courses. I could take my scores this year and see what would happen.

Scott

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10 hours ago, StuM said:

As a player who plays lots of 9 hole rounds I am not sure I like this.  I may think differently after giving it more thought but my initial take is that a page % of my “holes” would be auto-populated.  I typically golf 25-30 nine-hole rounds per year and maybe 10-12 full rounds.  I could have neatly a third system calculated holes 

my concern is will that skew my HCP significantly?

the concern may not be valid since they are using differentials, etc, to fill in the blanks so maybe not an issue?

 

 

I will most likely be playing 9 holes 4 to 5 times a week next year instead of 2 rounds at 18 per week as I have done in the past. My experience has been that I usually have a "tale of two rounds" whether it be 18 or a series of 9-hole rounds. The method of combining two 9-hole rounds would end up being similar to a typical 18 hole round where I might shoot a 37 and then a 41. With this new system I can see that the rounds could look strange having a 74 followed by an 82 and then a mid 70's again. I don't like this idea and feel that the rationale behind the change is very weak. They are concerned that a 9-hole round may be waiting out there too long to get coupled with a second 9-hole round and would not result in an accurate picture of the HI. I guess if you are sitting on a board you feel the need to do something even if it doesn't quite make sense 🙂

I am wondering if holding the 9-hole score a day or so and then post it when I finish the second nine would be considered blasphemy or gaming the system?

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45 minutes ago, Carl3 said:

I am wondering if holding the 9-hole score a day or so and then post it when I finish the second nine would be considered blasphemy or gaming the system?

 that is a rule violation but not sure it is any different from the old system where it waited for you to golf another 9 then combine.

Stuart M.
 

I am a "SCRATCH GOLFER".  I hit ball, Ball hits Tree, I scratch my head. 😜

Driver: Ping G410 Plus 10.5* +1* / 3 Hybrid: Cleveland HIBORE XLS / 4,5 & 6 Hybrids: Mizuno JP FLI-HI / Irons/Wedges 7-8-9-P-G: Mizuno JPX800 HD / Sand Wedge: Mizuno JPX 800 / Lob Wedge: Cleveland CBX 60* / Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG 7S / Balls: Srixon Soft / Beer: Labatt Blue (or anything nice & cold) 

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33 minutes ago, Carl3 said:

With this new system I can see that the rounds could look strange having a 74 followed by an 82 and then a mid 70's again. I don't like this idea and feel that the rationale behind the change is very weak.

They're not simply going to count your 9-hole score twice, they'll be using your "expected score" for the second 9 holes, or for whatever portion of the 18 holes you don't finish.  This will be something closer to your "average" score for those holes, not simply doubling a good nine, or a bad nine.

35 minutes ago, Carl3 said:

I guess if you are sitting on a board you feel the need to do something even if it doesn't quite make sense 🙂

Remember, this is a WORLD Handicap System.  This change in the US brings us a bit closer to the rest of the world.  I'm not familiar with every single local adjustment to the system, but I do know that in CONGU areas the second nine is "net par" plus half of the PCC plus 1 more stroke.  Since for most people their average is 2 to 3 strokes above net par, CONGU is pretty much using your average score for that second nine.  I'm happy to seeing the WHS decrease regional discrepancies, there are a few more procedures used by our friends around the world that I'd love to see us take up.

49 minutes ago, Carl3 said:

I am wondering if holding the 9-hole score a day or so and then post it when I finish the second nine would be considered blasphemy or gaming the system?

You mean you wonder if specifically choosing not to follow the posting rules is the wrong thing to do?:~(

Dave

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I'm not sure I like this change. I get the rationale for it, but I'm not sure that justifies making handicaps less accurate. This year, I had an 18 hole score for a while that was combined 9-hole scores from 10/1 and 4/1, and that 6 month interval is probably not the best for handicap accuracy. But does that justify essentially making up a 9 hole score for a player? I poked through the manual and couldn't find a discussion about what the algorithm will be. I'm sure it will be well thought out and tested, but it's going to make handicaps less accurate no matter how good it is. I also wonder if there might be another solution that avoids an algorithm - keep the 9 hole posting system but make it so scores can't be combined after a month, or maybe combine 9 holes scores posted within a week and then go to 18 hole posting. I'm guessing they discussed those ideas and rejected them for various valid reasons.

That said, it's probably not a huge deal. I'd imagine there's not a lot of serious players playing enough 9 hole rounds to make handicaps that inaccurate. 

-- Daniel

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3 hours ago, boogielicious said:

The expected score is pretty easy to figure out. I will read into it, but I play a few 9 hole courses. I could take my scores this year and see what would happen.

What do you mean?

You don't know the formula they're going to use to figure out the "expected score."

If as a nine handicap who averages 83 or something, you shoot +2 on the front and go home… what score do you get on the back nine?

1 hour ago, DeadMan said:

I also wonder if there might be another solution that avoids an algorithm - keep the 9 hole posting system but make it so scores can't be combined after a month, or maybe combine 9 holes scores posted within a week and then go to 18 hole posting. I'm guessing they discussed those ideas and rejected them for various valid reasons.

And if someone plays nine holes every 32 days… they'll have a handicap going back years.

Pros:

  • The round you played (even if nine or 11 or 14 holes) affects your handicap index the next day, just like 18-hole scores do.
  • Players can get a handicap more quickly.

Cons:

  • High potential for a less accurate handicap.
  • Opaque (likely?) formula for making < 18-hole scores into 18-hole scores.

I could see a situation where a nine-hole score is unmatched for maybe a week, and if it's not paired up, it's turned into an 18-hole score, but that's confusing too and misses out on the first "pro" listed above.


To the idea of a handicap, though, it's always somewhat "inaccurate" because:

  • Some players have counting scores going back months or years, while others have 20 scores in the last month.
  • Some players play by different rules.
  • Some players are improving rapidly, some getting worse rapidly.
  • 8 out of 20 speaks to potential, but is it the absolute best measure?

I could see a day when handicapping is almost entirely AI-driven: what is this player likely to shoot today? Your handicap might literally change based on how long it's been since you last played, the course you're playing that day… the tees you're playing, the time of day you're playing… whatever. AI could do all sorts of these calculations behind the scenes and spot trends in the data that you don't even know about.

Erik J. Barzeski —  I knock a ball. It goes in a gopher hole. 🏌🏼‍♂️
Director of Instruction Golf Evolution • Owner, The Sand Trap .com • AuthorLowest Score Wins
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1 hour ago, DeadMan said:

I'm not sure I like this change. I get the rationale for it, but I'm not sure that justifies making handicaps less accurate.

Given the wide variety of handicap cultures around the world, I'm not sure that we'd get a lot of people who agree on a single definition of "accurate".  For many people, including match play scores makes the calculation inaccurate, or using scores from better-ball (fourball) play.  Using scores from casual rounds has the same image in other parts of the world.  I can't say I'm crazy about arbitrarily calculating up to 9 holes for an 18 hole score, but it does bring us a little closer to the rest of the world, a slightly more unified WHS.  

Dave

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3 hours ago, iacas said:

To the idea of a handicap, though, it's always somewhat "inaccurate" because:

This is true, and you can enter handicap scores currently with only having played 7 or 14 holes. That's arguably just as inaccurate as what this will be.

 

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Thanks for the information. I can't wait for all the questions from our members.

"Hey, BK, I played nine holes on Wednesday and shot 42. I posted the score. Now on my record there is a score posted of 83."

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Brian Kuehn

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I play quite a few 9 hole rounds. A good chunk of them contribute to my handicap, as in I play better over 9 holes than 18. It’ll be interesting to see how my index changes. 

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On 11/2/2023 at 2:14 AM, DaveP043 said:

If you don't play all the holes, you'll be required to post hole by hole for the ones you did play, the system will take care of the rest.

But this is already there.  In our app, if we don't play all holes, it automatically takes net par for the non-played hole as your score.  Or am I missing something

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I just saw this release from the USGA:

https://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/articles/2023/11/revisions-coming-to-world-handicap-system-in-2024.html?fbclid=IwAR1ThcHpfzws5aS1fckJ4URrVp0_s1R4-Giw-OyMGMdPIYZpyOW8uVXSkYc

I don't think there's a lot of additional information, although I do see that the PCC calculation is being revised a little, so that a PCC will become more frequent.

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Dave

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18 minutes ago, DaveP043 said:

I just saw this release from the USGA:

https://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/articles/2023/11/revisions-coming-to-world-handicap-system-in-2024.html?fbclid=IwAR1ThcHpfzws5aS1fckJ4URrVp0_s1R4-Giw-OyMGMdPIYZpyOW8uVXSkYc

I don't think there's a lot of additional information, although I do see that the PCC calculation is being revised a little, so that a PCC will become more frequent.

I noticed they are going to start accepting scores on Par-3 courses.  I usually only play a Par-3 course once a year so that will not have much impact for me, but at least I can start posting those scores.

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Stuart M.
 

I am a "SCRATCH GOLFER".  I hit ball, Ball hits Tree, I scratch my head. 😜

Driver: Ping G410 Plus 10.5* +1* / 3 Hybrid: Cleveland HIBORE XLS / 4,5 & 6 Hybrids: Mizuno JP FLI-HI / Irons/Wedges 7-8-9-P-G: Mizuno JPX800 HD / Sand Wedge: Mizuno JPX 800 / Lob Wedge: Cleveland CBX 60* / Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG 7S / Balls: Srixon Soft / Beer: Labatt Blue (or anything nice & cold) 

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3 hours ago, StuM said:

I noticed they are going to start accepting scores on Par-3 courses.  I usually only play a Par-3 course once a year so that will not have much impact for me, but at least I can start posting those scores.

The par 3 course will need to be rated, which costs money. 

Brian Kuehn

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1 hour ago, bkuehn1952 said:

The par 3 course will need to be rated, which costs money. 

It will cost time… yes. But par three courses will be pretty easy to rate. You can do a good bit of it from Google Earth.


https://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/articles/2023/11/revisions-coming-to-world-handicap-system-in-2024.html#skip-to-main-content

Significant updates to the WHS include:

  • Inclusion of Shorter-Length Golf Courses Within the Course Rating System: The overall length requirements for Course Rating in the WHS will be significantly reduced. A set of tees on an 18-hole course may be as short as 1,500 yards [1,370 meters] to be eligible for a Course Rating and Slope Rating®, and a set of tees on a 9-hole course may be as short as 750 yards [685 meters]. This change is intended to expand the WHS to thousands of shorter length courses, including par-3 courses, and enable more golfers to obtain and use a Handicap Index.
  • Use of an Expected Score for a Hole Not Played: Improvements have been made to the method used to handle holes not played, which will now be based on a player’s expected score rather than a score of net par. This new method will produce a 9-hole or 18-hole Score Differential that more accurately reflects a player’s ability. As golfers across the world are playing more 9-hole rounds, an expected score can also be used to convert a 9-hole round into an 18-hole Score Differential. For some countries, this means that 9-hole scores will be considered in the calculation of a player’s Handicap Index immediately after the day of play, rather than waiting to combine with another 9-hole score.
  • Playing Conditions Calculation Adjustments Made More Frequent: The Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC) has been modified to increase the likelihood of an adjustment for abnormal playing conditions. National associations were given discretion, beginning in July 2022, to introduce this revision in their computation platforms, which will be complete by April 1, 2024.
  • Enhanced Guidance on Conducting a Handicap Review: The role of the Handicap Committee is vital to the success of the WHS and the Rules recommend that a Handicap Review is conducted regularly, or at least once a year to ensure a Handicap Index® remains reflective of a player’s ability. New reporting tools have been developed that national associations can incorporate into their handicapping software to assist Committees in conducting the review process effectively and consistently.
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Erik J. Barzeski —  I knock a ball. It goes in a gopher hole. 🏌🏼‍♂️
Director of Instruction Golf Evolution • Owner, The Sand Trap .com • AuthorLowest Score Wins
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    • 62 is cool as hell. Damn
    • Great playing! Curious when you say "good approaches" on like 1,2,17,18 that resulted in 3 birdies, what kinds of distances are you hitting for the approach shots and how far are you leaving for your birdie putts?  Maybe a better way to ask is during this great run of golf you've been playing obviously you've been doing a lot of things well, but is there a common theme among the really low rounds that you hadn't had prior to this stretch? Like has it been a case of stuffing everything to 5 feet, making a ton of long putts, not missing a fairway, etc.
    • Still getting used to the Cobra clubs/new shafts. The good ones are phenomenal, but have had a few off the planet left pull hooks with both hybrid and 3 wood, which I absolutely do not want to see, I want to see a fairly neutral flight with it falling right and the big miss be to the right. Tweaked a couple things towards the end of my session like ball position and alignment and that seemed to help some so it's possible that I'm just naturally wanting to line these up differently for some reason. Will keep working on those and making sure I dial them in over the next few weeks before Vegas. Got my 54/58 wedges re-gripped and loft/lies checked. The club guy said they had both gotten a bit flatter over time so got those bent back to standard. Immediately noticed a difference with my 54 start line/accuracy. Couple swings here with foam balls. Still working on setup pieces mostly but am fairly pleased with my swing overall at the moment.  
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