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Worldwide Golf Handicap System to Debut in 2020

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Golf’s New World Handicap System Designed to Welcome More Golfers  

USGA and The R&A Release Key Features

LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. (Feb. 20,2018) -  The USGA and The R&A announce key features of the proposed new World Handicap System (WHS), designed to provide all golfers with a consistent measure of playing ability globally.

The idea for a new, unified system was conceived by the USGA and The R&A and developed following an extensive review of systems administered by six existing handicapping authorities: 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.

The new system will feature the following: 

  • Flexibility in formats of play, allowing both competitive and recreational rounds to count for handicap purposes and ensuring that a golfer’s handicap is more reflective of potential ability.
  • A minimal number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap; a recommendation that the number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap be 54 holes from any combination of 18-hole and 9-hole rounds, but with some discretion available for handicapping authorities or national associations to set a different minimum within their own jurisdiction.
  • A consistent handicap that is portable from course to course and country to country through worldwide use of the USGA Course and Slope Rating System, already successfully used in more than 80 countries.
  • An average-based calculation of a handicap, taken from the best eight out of the last 20 scores and factoring in memory of demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control.
  • A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions might have on a player’s performance each day.
  • Daily handicap revisions, taking account of the course and weather conditions calculation.
  • A limit of Net Double Bogey on the maximum hole score (for handicapping purposes only).
  • A maximum handicap limit of 54.0, regardless of gender, to encourage more golfers to measure and track their performance to increase their enjoyment of the game.

Quantitative research was conducted in 15 countries around the world, through which 76 percent of the 52,000 respondents voiced their support for a World Handicap System, 22 percent were willing to consider its benefits, and only 2 percent were opposed. This was followed by a series of focus groups, in which more than 300 golf administrators and golfers from regions around the world offered extensive feedback on the features of the proposed new system. 

This feedback has helped shape the WHS, which has been developed by the USGA and The R&A with support from each handicapping authority as well as the Japan Golf Association and Golf Canada.

Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA, commented, “For some time, we’ve heard golfers say, ‘I’m not good enough to have a handicap,’ or ‘I don’t play enough to have a handicap.’ We want to make the right decisions now to encourage a more welcoming and social game. We’re excited to be taking another important step – along with modernizing golf’s Rules – to provide a pathway into the sport, making golf easier to understand and more approachable and enjoyable for everyone to play.”

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “We are working with our partners and national associations to make golf more modern, more accessible and more enjoyable as a sport and the new World Handicap System represents a huge opportunity in this regard.

“We want to make it more attractive to golfers to obtain a handicap and strip away some of the complexity and variation which can be off-putting for newcomers. Having a handicap, which is easier to understand and is truly portable around the world, can make golf much more enjoyable and is one of the unique selling points of our sport.”

The tenets of the new system focus on three main objectives: to encourage as many golfers as possible to obtain and maintain a handicap; to enable golfers of differing abilities, genders and nationalities to transport their handicap to any course globally and compete on a fair and equitable basis; and to indicate with sufficient accuracy the score a golfer is reasonably capable of achieving on any course around the world, playing under normal conditions.

Given worldwide alignment towards a single system, all parties will now embark on a two-year transition period targeting implementation in 2020.  When adopted, the World Handicap System will be governed by the USGA and The R&A and administered locally by the six existing authorities and national associations around the world, with safeguards included to ensure consistency as well as adaptability to differing golf cultures.

The six handicapping authorities represent approximately 15 million golfers in 80 countries who currently maintain a golf handicap.

The announcement is the latest step in a multi-year collaboration between The USGA and The R&A, as well as handicap authorities and 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.

As an extension of their support of the Rules of Golf worldwide, Rolex has made a commitment to support the USGA’s and The R&A’s efforts to implement a World Handicap System.

To provide feedback to the USGA on the new World Handicap System, email us at whsfeedback@usga.org, or see http://usga.org/whs. Golfers are encouraged to follow and join in the conversation on social media by using #golfwhs2020.

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• A maximum handicap limit of 54.0, regardless of gender, to encourage more golfers to measure and track their performance to increase their enjoyment of the game

I'm not sure how that is going to have the effect they state… but oooookaaaaaaayyyyyy…………?

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Finally in Argentina we will be having a decent handicap system.
Here i´m a +1. And I play the same handicap from the tips or form the ladies tees on every course, the easy ones and the hard ones. There are no adjustment for tee or course rating, rating just apply for handicap review 1 time each month. 

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One of the comments was that the person does not play enough golf to have a HCP.   The Florida Golf Association charges $40 a year to have your GHIN HCP.   So why would anybody but a serious golfer want to pay an additional $40 to just have a HCP??   MAYBE they can find a vendor who could pull all the systems together and establish a MUCH cheaper system so people want to use it.

My club dues include the GHIN HCP, however, they still pay $25 for it.

Get me an equitable, world-wide HCP system that only costs $10 a year at most and you will see a lot more people getting a HCP.  

Rant over....maybe

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1 minute ago, JuanTheGolfer said:

One of the comments was that the person does not play enough golf to have a HCP.   The Florida Golf Association charges $40 a year to have your GHIN HCP.   So why would anybody but a serious golfer want to pay an additional $40 to just have a HCP??   MAYBE they can find a vendor who could pull all the systems together and establish a MUCH cheaper system so people want to use it.

My club dues include the GHIN HCP, however, they still pay $25 for it.

Get me an equitable, world-wide HCP system that only costs $10 a year at most and you will see a lot more people getting a HCP.  

Rant over....maybe

Maybe include it as a benefit of USGA membership dues?

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  "A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions might have on a player’s performance each day."

This sounds like a good idea but I would like to know how it would be implemented - The course manager decides on a daily basis and posts it?  The guidelines should be interesting. 

 

1 hour ago, iacas said:

I'm not sure how that is going to have the effect they state… but oooookaaaaaaayyyyyy…………?

If I read it right, you can take no more than a double for handicap purposes on any one hole.  How could you get a 54 handicap?

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1 hour ago, iacas said:
  • A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions might have on a player’s performance each day.
  • Daily handicap revisions, taking account of the course and weather conditions calculation.

This is interesting. This with taking the best 8 out of 20 might skew things to have people's handicaps a little lower than the "USGA standard" way of doing it.

Yesterday we played in cold and windy conditions. Had a couple choke 7-irons into holes where on Sunday I was hitting a sand or lob wedge. Greens were dried out, playing fast and firm. Shot 74 and felt like it was good as if not better than the round on Sunday.

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43 minutes ago, Missouri Swede said:

Maybe include it as a benefit of USGA membership dues?

Really like the idea.  Instead of sending me a hat and a bag tag, just cover my GHIN membership.   Definitely works for me.

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The tenets of the new system focus on three main objectives: to encourage as many golfers as possible to obtain and maintain a handicap; to enable golfers of differing abilities, genders and nationalities to transport their handicap to any course globally and compete on a fair and equitable basis; and to indicate with sufficient accuracy the score a golfer is reasonably capable of achieving on any course around the world, playing under normal conditions.

This was the only statement that talked about gender.  Hoping they eliminate having separate handicapping systems for males and females, but unclear.

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1 hour ago, NJpatbee said:

  "A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions might have on a player’s performance each day."

This sounds like a good idea but I would like to know how it would be implemented - The course manager decides on a daily basis and posts it?  The guidelines should be interesting. 

I'm also curious (not at all opposed to it--just curious) about how it will work.

Does this mean that the first groups out for the day (on a day with significant weather) post their rounds, but their differentials change as later groups come in and they see how the "usual suspects" at the course played that day and the adjustments are made? In other words, the differential for your round isn't "set" until the weather adjustment is figured by mid-day, maybe?

Do they adjust it only for periods of time as needed?  For example, beautiful morning, then mid afternoon winds kick in (15-25 mph, common around here), then the rain starts. Would they adjust only the afternoon rounds but leave the morning rounds with standard slope/rating?

1 hour ago, NJpatbee said:

If I read it right, you can take no more than a double for handicap purposes on any one hole.  How could you get a 54 handicap?

Would have to be some mighty low slope and ratings.  My local muni forward-most tee has 64.1/100.  Max double bogey on each hole (par 71) gives net 107.  That gives a differential of 48.5, if I've crunched numbers correctly.

Edited by Missouri Swede

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1 hour ago, NJpatbee said:

  "A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions might have on a player’s performance each day."

This sounds like a good idea but I would like to know how it would be implemented - The course manager decides on a daily basis and posts it?  The guidelines should be interesting. 

 

If I read it right, you can take no more than a double for handicap purposes on any one hole.  How could you get a 54 handicap?

It said net double.  So a 36 handicap can get an 8 on a par 4.

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2 hours ago, JuanTheGolfer said:

One of the comments was that the person does not play enough golf to have a HCP.   The Florida Golf Association charges $40 a year to have your GHIN HCP.   So why would anybody but a serious golfer want to pay an additional $40 to just have a HCP??   MAYBE they can find a vendor who could pull all the systems together and establish a MUCH cheaper system so people want to use it.

My club dues include the GHIN HCP, however, they still pay $25 for it.

Get me an equitable, world-wide HCP system that only costs $10 a year at most and you will see a lot more people getting a HCP.  

Rant over....maybe

I think you're right. Most golfers play less than 20 rounds a year. Who wants to pay 20-40 bucks a year extra for a handicap they don't really get much use from? I do so because i have to in order to play in many of the tournaments i like to participate in. But if i didn't play in these tournaments i wouldn't keep a handicap either. If the governing bodies want to encourage max participation in the handicap system they should make it either free or have some kind of low anual fee, like you said. 

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21 minutes ago, allenc said:

It said net double.  So a 36 handicap can get an 8 on a par 4.

Is that what they mean by "net double bogey"?  So then a 36 handicapper would record up to 4 strokes over par on each hole -- record up to 144 on a par 72 course? And our newly-minted 54 handicapper would record up to 162?  Ahh, if I'm playing with a friend just taking up the game and they're on their way to shooting anything close to a 162, we're not keeping score.

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33 minutes ago, allenc said:

It said net double.  So a 36 handicap can get an 8 on a par 4.

I read it differently:

A limit of Net Double Bogey on the maximum hole score (for handicapping purposes only).

So an 8 on a par 4 would be posted as a 6 for handicap purposes.  I could be wrong...

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12 minutes ago, NJpatbee said:

I read it differently:

A limit of Net Double Bogey on the maximum hole score (for handicapping purposes only).

So an 8 on a par 4 would be posted as a 6 for handicap purposes.  I could be wrong...

The “net” part of that line means the score after you subtract any strokes you get on that hole.  A 36 gets 2 strokes per hole.  If he gets an “8” on a par four then it is a “net” 6, which is a double bogie.  So therefor 8 (net double bogie) is the highest score he is allowed to record for ESC purposes.  If he actually shot a 9, 10, or 11 he would enter an 8 for his handicap.

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3 hours ago, JuanTheGolfer said:

My club dues include the GHIN HCP, however, they still pay $25 for it.

Get me an equitable, world-wide HCP system that only costs $10 a year at most and you will see a lot more people getting a HCP.  

Rant over....maybe

A GHIN membership (or whatever) is often included in membership to a club.

I don't think many golfers serious enough to WANT a handicap are sweating the $25 to $40 it typically costs them.

And, yeah, this is one of the ways the USGA make a little money. They have expenses, too. They make money from membership dues (not much), the U.S. Open, and things like this. They SPEND a lot of money, and AWARD a lot of money, too.

2 hours ago, SG11118 said:

This was the only statement that talked about gender.  Hoping they eliminate having separate handicapping systems for males and females, but unclear.

Why on earth would you want that?

Scratch women would become 6 handicappers overnight. That'd make them feel GREAT.

1 hour ago, Missouri Swede said:

Does this mean that the first groups out for the day (on a day with significant weather) post their rounds, but their differentials change as later groups come in and they see how the "usual suspects" at the course played that day and the adjustments are made? In other words, the differential for your round isn't "set" until the weather adjustment is figured by mid-day, maybe?

Basically…

  • Everyone plays.
  • If the scores are statistically significantly different for that day, the handicap can be adjusted.

Remember, too, people can post scores days later. Weeks later, even. Your handicap index could, theoretically, be a 5.1 one day, but two weeks later after people post a bunch of scores from the course you played the day before, your handicap index could become 5.2 without you having played another round.

Note, though, that these changes are going to be small. A 79 one day will not be a 4.5 differential and on another day a 7.4 differential. They're likely going to include a pretty sizable modifier that makes the changes small. But a small modifier is going to be more accurate than the current system.

1 hour ago, Missouri Swede said:

Do they adjust it only for periods of time as needed?  For example, beautiful morning, then mid afternoon winds kick in (15-25 mph, common around here), then the rain starts. Would they adjust only the afternoon rounds but leave the morning rounds with standard slope/rating?

Pretty sure it's for the whole day. Again, more accurate than it is now.

37 minutes ago, Groucho Valentine said:

I think you're right. Most golfers play less than 20 rounds a year. Who wants to pay 20-40 bucks a year extra for a handicap they don't really get much use from? I do so because i have to in order to play in many of the tournaments i like to participate in. But if i didn't play in these tournaments i wouldn't keep a handicap either. If the governing bodies want to encourage max participation in the handicap system they should make it either free or have some kind of low anual fee, like you said. 

I don't think "max participation in the handicap system" is really a huge goal of theirs. They aren't stupid. They know a lot of golfers are out there just to have fun, drink some beers, not really follow the rules, etc.

It costs what it costs.

P.S. Oh, and juniors can get a free GHIN membership. @NatalieB has a free handicap.

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