World Handicap System (WHS) Hub

The World Handicap System (WHS), unifies the six handicap systems previously used around the world into a single system that enables golfers of different ability to play and compete on a fair and equitable basis, in any format, on any course, anywhere around the world.

The WHS Hub is designed to be an interactive educational resource for all golfers on the World Handicap System and the Rules of Handicapping.

5 Things You Need to Know

1. Your Handicap Index may change.
But that’s ok! Finally, players around the world will have an apples-to-apples handicap. Your new
Handicap Index will be more responsive to good scores by averaging your eight best scores out of
your most recent 20 (currently, it’s 10 out of 20 with a .96 multiplier). In short, your Handicap Index
will be determined by your demonstrated ability and consistency of scores. In most cases for golfers
in the U.S., it will change less than one stroke.

2. You need to know your Course Handicap.
In the new system, your Course Handicap will be the number of strokes needed to play to par. This
will result in greater variance in that number and presents a change, as historically it has
represented the number of strokes needed to play to the Course Rating. This is a good thing, as par
is an easy number to remember. Target score for the day? Par plus Course Handicap. The Course
Rating will now be inherent within the calculation to be more intuitive and account for competing
from different tees.

3. Net Double Bogey.
The maximum hole score for each player will be limited to a Net Double Bogey. This adjustment is
more consistent from hole to hole than the Equitable Stroke Control procedure. Net Double Bogey is
already used in many other parts of the world and the calculation is simple: Par + 2 + any handicap
strokes you receive.

4. Your Handicap Index will be revised daily.
One way that handicapping is being modernized is a player’s Handicap Index will update daily (which
will provide a fairer indication of a player’s ability in the moment), if the player submitted a score
the day before. On days where the player does not submit a score, no update will take place.

5. Safeguards in the new system.
The new system will limit extreme upward movement of a Handicap Index, automatically and
immediately reduce a Handicap Index when an exceptional score of at least 7 strokes better is
posted, and account for abnormal course or weather conditions to ensure that scores reflect when a
course plays significantly different than its established Course Rating and Slope Rating.
These safeguards help maintain accuracy of a Handicap Index, greater integrity within the system
and promote fun and fair play for golfers of all abilities.

Table of Contents

1. Basis of Calculation of Handicap Index 9. Acceptable Scores
2. Frequency of Revisions 10. Treatment of Nine-Hole Scores
3. Handicap Formula

11. Playing Conditions Calculation

4. Handicap Formula 12. Exceptional Score Reduction
5. Playing Handicap  13. Handicap Index Caps
6. Net Double Bogey 14. Handicap Review
7. Maximum Handicap Index 15. Course Rating System
8. Minimum Scores to Obtain a Handicap Index

Additional Digital Materials Regarding the Rules of Handicapping

Digital Copy- Rules of Handicapping Book

Complete Summary of Changes Document

Basis of Calculating a Handicap Index

The 8 best of most recent 20 score differentials, which includes a Playing Conditions Calculation to account for any abnormal course or weather conditions.


Frequency of Revisions

A golfer’s Handicap Index will update daily, provided the golfer submitted a score the previous day. Otherwise, no update will take place. 


Handicap Formula

Course Handicap Calculation

Determining the number of strokes a player receives in relation the Par of the tees being played, including a Course Rating minus Par element. This is the number that is used to determine the maximum holes score for handicap purposes.


Playing Handicap

The handicap used that maximizes equity when competing by applying a handicap allowance for a specific format.



Net Double Bogey

This will replace Equitable Stroke Control (ESC). It is the maximum hole score for handicap purposes. This maximum is double bogey plus any handicap strokes a player receives based on their Course Handicap.



Maximum Handicap Index

The maximum handicap index for all golfers is 54.0, regardless of gender.



Minimum Scores to Obtain a Handicap Index

The minimum is 54 holes worth of scores, most often via three 18-hole scores (including nine-hole scores that are combined into 18-hole scores).


Acceptable Scores

Determining which scores are acceptable for handicap purposes, focusing on playing by the Rules of Golf and playing one’s own ball.



Treatment of Nine-Hole Scores

Nine-hole scores are combined in the order that they are submitted and then combined to produce a 18-Hole Score Differential.


Playing Conditions Calculation

In Louisiana, the weather conditions can vary day-to-day or hour to hour and course playing conditions may vary. 

When abnormal course or weather conditions cause scores to be unusually high or low on a given day, a “Playing Conditions Calculation” will adjust Score Differentials to better reflect a player’s actual performance.


Exceptional Score Reduction

A score that produces a Score Differential of 7.0 strokes or more below the Handicap Index will result in an Exceptional Score Reduction that changes the Handicap Index. This reduction is in addition to the normal 8 of 20 calculation and depends on how much better the Score Differential is in comparison to the Handicap Index used during the round.


Handicap Index Caps

A Soft Cap and Hard Cap will be included in the calculation to limit the extreme upward movement of a Handicap Index within a 12-month period. These caps are in relation to the player’s “Low Handicap Index.”


Handicap Review

An audit-like procedure by a Handicap Committee reviewing the Handicap Index of member(s) of a club to assure that the Handicap Index is reflective of demonstrated ability and scoring potential.


Course Rating System

The basis for the World Handicap System. It is also an indication of the difficulty of a golf course for the scratch player under normal course and weather conditions.


Additional Digital Materials Regarding the Rules of Handicapping