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World Handicap System

The way golfers around the world will calculate their handicaps has been transformed by a new system developed by the USGA and The R&A, with key features designed to provide all golfers with a consistent measure of playing ability.

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 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.

Key Features

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  • 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. The number of scores needed to establish a Handicap Index is 54 holes from any combination of 18-hole and 9-hole rounds.
  • A consistent handicap that is portable from tee to tee, course to course and country to country through worldwide use of the World Handicap System.
  • An average-based calculation of a handicap, taken from the best eight out of the last 20 Score Differentials and factoring in memory of previous demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control.
  • A calculation that considers the impact that playing conditions (including course set up 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). Net Double Bogey will replace the existing Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) procedure for determining the maximum hole score.
  • A maximum Handicap Index of 54.0, regardless of gender, to encourage more golfers to measure and track their performance to increase their enjoyment of the game.

FAQ's

Q:  Can a person obtain a handicap without being a member of a golf club? A: One of the main principles within the Golf Canada Score Centre is that you must be a member of a golf club in order to obtain a Handicap Index. However, Golf Canada has a “Public Player” program that gives golfers the opportunity to play golf at different courses and still have the opportunity to obtain an official Handicap Index and be a member of Golf Canada and provincial golf association.
Q:  What scores are acceptable for posting purposes? A: With the goal of making Handicapping inclusive and accessible, scores from a variety of playing formats are acceptable, providing golfers with an accurate record of their demonstrated ability. A score is acceptable for handicap purposes if the round has been played:

  • Over at least the minimum number of holes required. To post an 18-hole score, 14 or more holes must be played.  To post a 9-hole score, 7-13 holes must be played.
  • On a golf course with a valid Course and Slope Rating, whether at home course, away course, or out of country
  • On a golf course during its active season.
  • In the company of at least one other person
  • Scores in all authorized formats of play
  • By the Rules of Golf
Q: How many scores do I have to enter to get a handicap index?

 

A: A player will need to return 54 holes worth of scores to be issued an initial Handicap Index.

The World Handicap System will be averaged based, using the best 8 of the last 20 scores in your record.

Q:  We’ve made changes to our course and/or don’t think our Course Ratings are correct. What do we do? A: All Course Ratings are determined and issued by your provincial golf association. A club may never rate its own course or make adjustments to the course rating you have been issued. If you have made temporary (e.g. temporary tees/greens) or permanent changes to your golf course your club should notify the provincial golf association.

In the case of temporary changes, the association will decide whether scores made under those conditions will be accepted for handicap purposes and whether the Course or Slope rating should be modified temporarily. If you have made permanent changes to your course, the course will be re-rated by the provincial association.

Q: Does Golf Canada provide handicap calculation software? A: Yes, all member clubs are entitled to utilize the internet-based Golf Canada Score Centre as a member service.
Q: Does my club have to have a Handicap Committee? A: Yes. As per the Golf Canada Member Club Handicap License Agreement, in order to issue Handicap Indexes to its members, a club must have a Handicap Committee.
Q: How do I post my score? A: Scores can be posted in several ways including through the Golf Canada website, the smartphone application, as well as the score posting kiosk that is set up at your home club. It is the golfer’s responsibility to ensure that all eligible scores are being posted.
Q: How do I post my score? A: Scores can be posted in several ways including through the Golf Canada website, the smartphone application, as well as the score posting kiosk that is set up at your home club. It is the golfer’s responsibility to ensure that all eligible scores are being posted.
Q: Should I post the scores from my winter vacation? A: If the round(s) played were in an area observing an Active Handicap Season then you must post the score(s). Most of the southern United States observe a year-round Active Season, but you can confirm the Active Season for where you are playing by calling the State golf association for that area.
Q: What are the Active Handicap Seasons for posting rounds played in Canada?

 

A: BC → Mar.1 – Nov.15
AB → Mar.1 – Oct.31
SK → Apr.15 – Oct.31
MB → Apr.15 – Oct.31
ON → Apr.15 – Oct.31
QC → Apr.15 – Oct.31
NS → Apr.15 – Oct.31
NB → May.1 – Oct.31
PE → Apr.16 – Nov.14
NL → Apr.1 – Nov. 30
Q. I’ve just played golf abroad. Can I post the scores for handicap purposes? A. Only scores from courses with a Course and Slope Rating are eligible for handicap purposes. With the alignment of national golf associations/federations, we will see more and more courses with valid Course and Slope ratings. Please note that depending on the WHS launch date in each country, some courses may be delayed in being issued a Course and Slope Rating.
Q: How soon after playing do I have to post my score for handicap purposes?  A: A player should submit their score as soon as possible on the day of play and before midnight local time. This ensures that your score is included in the analysis for the Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC).
Q:  How is a Course Handicap calculated?

 

A: The way that a Course Handicap is calculated has changed with the WHS. A player’s Course Handicap is calculated as

(Handicap Index) x (Slope Rating of the tee played / 113) + (Course Rating – Par)

The resulting figure is rounded off to the nearest whole number (.5 or more is rounded upward).

Q: How do I posted a Tournament Score? A: Under the World Handicap System, Tournament Scores will not be weighted the same way as they previously were. Now, any exceptional score (regardless of if it was made in a competitive or recreational round) could impact your Handicap Index to ensure that your Index is accurate based on your demonstrated playing ability.
Q:  How do I post a score for hole with a temporary green? A: If the hole’s character and playing length have not been altered and you can play the hole under the Rules of Golf, then you can post your actual score on the hole. Otherwise, you must post a Net Par for the hole.
Q: Can I post a score if I play alone? A: No, a golfer cannot post a score for Handicap purposes if you are unaccompanied during a round. 
Q: How are 9-hole score combined to create an 18-hole score? A: 9-hole scores are combined regardless of where they were played, i.e. a front nine score from one course will be combined with a front nine score from another course. The 18-hole combined score is the sum of the nine-hole Course Ratings and the average of the nine-hole Slope Ratings (.5 rounded up).
Q:  How do I move clubs on the new system? A: Notify your new club that you have kept a Handicap in the past. They will initiate a transfer process through Golf Canada. This will retain all your scoring history and Handicap Index.
Q: What is the maximum handicap a person can have? A:  The maximum Handicap Index has changed. Where previously there were different values for men and women, now there is one maximum Handicap Index regardless of gender. The maximum Handicap Index is 54.0.  Note: A maximum Handicap Factor will convert to a Course Handicap that exceeds the max. on golf courses with a Slope Rating greater than 113.
Q:  How can I become Handicap Certified? A: Each provincial golf association conducts a series of handicap seminars throughout the year. The seminars are generally 3 hours long, including a brief quiz. Upon passing the quiz an attendee is then considered handicap certified (every Golf Canada member club must have a representative attend a handicap seminar) and prepared to be part of the Handicap Committee at their club (every Golf Canada club must have a Handicap Committee).

Resource Center

Print Resources

Video Resources

Online General Handicapping Presentation

Golf Canada has created an online presentation that highlights the major changes to the Rules of Handicapping under the new World Handicap System.  By comparing the Rules of Handicapping to the previous system, and providing explanations as to the reasons for the change, golfers will have a better understanding and be able to feel confident as they continue to post scores.  Please note that this is meant for general education, and does not prepare the individual for Handicap Certification.

These videos are available in both English and French.

Golf Canada Mobile

Download Golf Canada Mobile and post your scores on your smart device. In addition to posting scores, you can look up a golfers handicap index, find golf courses in Canada, compute your course handicap, post and view your entire score history and more.

Free download for iOS and Android.

Handicap Certification Seminars

As part of the Handicap License Agreement, Golf Canada requires that every member club and league have a Handicap Committee in place, and that one person (ideally the Chairperson of the Committee) has successfully completed a Handicapping certification seminar.

For more information on these seminars please our seminar page>>.

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