Handicap Hub: Five Things You Need to Know About WHS
By Kelly Neely, Sr. Dir., Handicapping & Course Rating
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WHS - Five Things You Need to Know
There are many who would point out that the Handicap System is nothing if not complex. The (icky) math. The charts. The policies and procedures! Well, as someone who has been dealing with the Handicap System for more years than I want to admit (because it will just age me), I’m here to say... you’re not necessarily wrong.
But, as we are on the cusp of the launch of the new World Handicap System that will occur January 1, it’s time to reset, open ourselves up to change, and – for now, anyway – keep it (sort of) simple.
Here are five things you need to know (now) about the World Handicap System.
Your Handicap Index may change: But that’s ok! 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 the consistency of scores.
Whether or not your new Index goes up or down depends on the 9th and 10th scores that will not be used once the transition takes place. In most cases for golfers in the U.S., it will change less than one stroke. Since you don’t actually use your Index to play with, any change won’t really matter much.
You still need to know your Course Handicap: You’ve always needed to know your Course Handicap, which is the number you do actually play with. Currently, your Course Handicap represents the number of strokes you need to play down to the Course Rating on the tees played. In the new system, your Course Handicap will be the number of strokes needed to play to par on that tee. It’s helpful to realize that Course Rating and par are typically not the same number, and you can’t automatically assume every tee is a par 72.
As many golfers relate their game directly to par and not to Course Rating, this change might be a relatable one. However, because par is now in the equation, look for your Course Handicap to change. In many cases, it will go down – but so will everyone else’s.
Net Double Bogey: Big change here, but a good one. The maximum hole score for each player will be limited to a Net Double Bogey, so everyone needs to toss out the current max adjustment rule of Equitable Stroke Control. Net Double Bogey, or as we prefer to call it – “Double Bogey Plus” – is more consistent from hole to hole than the ESC procedure. But, instead of thinking of a max hole score for your round, like an 8 for example, you’ll have a maximum per hole.
This max depends on your Course Handicap, where the strokes fall, and the par of the hole. Sounds more complicated than it is, though. Posting scores hole-by-hole will make the adjustments automatic and a no-brainer. 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.
Your Handicap Index will be revised daily: Another big change. This one might take some getting used to, but is just one more way that handicapping is being modernized. 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. The system will calculate at midnight local time any time a score is added, removed, or edited. On days where there is no change to a player’s record, no update will take place.
If you’re not already a golfer who is hyper-aware of their Handicap Index, this change will turn you into one! Relying on the GHIN mobile app is a good way to stay on top of it.
Safeguards in the new system: These are what I’m referring to as not just safeguards, but “moving parts.” I’m confident that these changes – though they may sound complex at the outset – will please most golfers and administrators. More moving parts in this case means more “protection for the field.”
I like these safeguards so much, that if I could do a backflip, I would.
The World Handicap System will limit extreme upward movement of a Handicap Index. It will automatically (and immediately) reduce a Handicap Index when an exceptional score – not just a tournament score – of at least 7 strokes better is posted. It will have mechanisms in place to account for abnormal course or weather conditions to ensure that scores reflect when a course plays significantly different than its established Course Rating / Slope Rating.
These safeguards represent real change, modern change, and positive change. They will help maintain accuracy of a Handicap Index, greater integrity within the system and promote fun and fair play for golfers of all abilities. Which is exactly what we want from a Handicap System.
Questions? Contact Kelly or Gretchen in the OGA Handicapping & Course Rating Department at (503) 981-4653 x226 or Click Here to Email Your Question