Here Comes the World Handicap System

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This image is used in almost every article I have seen regarding the new World Handicap System

The golf world is getting a new World Handicap System in 2020, which will bring together all of the different systems for calculating handicaps currently used around the world into a single system.

Here is some of the features of the new system, per Golf Ontario:

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 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 previous 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.

If you have been using the Game Tracker your calculated index will already reflect the new system as we have already updated the Game Tracker to accommodate the changes to how handicaps will be calculated, except for the “taking into account the course and weather conditions”.  My understanding is that this will be a adjustment applied to the differential calculation for the score based on how scores for all players that day compare to their expected scores.  If everyone seems to play well because conditions are ideal, up to a +1 adjustment will be added, or if the weather is terrible, up to a -3 adjustment will be added.  The Game Tracker will not make these adjustments, so will not be considered a true handicap index calculator.

Click here for more information on how the new system calculates your handicap index.

How to use your handicap index to calculate your course handicap will also change. Instead of just using your index and the course rating, now you will also include the rating and par for the tees you are playing.  This will make it easier to set up a game between players playing different tees.

Course Handicap = Handicap Index x (Slope Rating/113) + (Course Rating- Par)


Someone with a handicap index of 15.5 is playing at a course with a slope rating of 125, a course rating of 69.5, and par 72.

Their course handicap will be 15.5 x (125/113) + (69.5-72) = 14.64, or 15.

And one last thing.  to adjust your score now you will use “net double bogey“.  So your maximum score on a hole for your adjusted score will be calculated by the formula:

Max Score = Par For Hole + 2 + Number Of Handicap Strokes Player Receives on Hole

So for the player above who calculated their course handicap to be 15, they will be able to score up to a triple bogey for the first 15 handicap holes, and a double bogey for the 16, 17, and 18 handicap holes.


Is it just me, or have the recent rules changes and now handicap changes seemed to make the game way more complicated?

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