WHS makes major changes to Golf Handicap Rules…

WHS Handicap Rules Changes!

The USGA and the R&A have officially announced they will be making amendments to the way the WHS Handicap is calculated.

In an ‘ongoing review’ of the Rules of Handicapping and Course Rating System with a continued emphasis on accuracy, consistency, and equity’. The main changes include the following…

WHS Rule Changes by USGA and R&A logo

Coming into effect on 1st April 2024

Inclusion of Shorter-Length Courses within the Course Rating System

The overall length requirements for Course Rating are being significantly reduced.

A set of tees on an 18-hole course may be as short as 1,500 yards to be eligible for a Course Rating and Slope Rating.

And a set of tees on a 9-hole course may be as short as 750 yards.

This change is intended to expand the WHS to thousands of shorter-length courses.

These include Par-3 courses and enable more golfers to obtain a Handicap Index.

TSG Verdict – The Social Golfer Team does not accept 9-hole cards on their WHS Handicapping System. We believe Golf is a game of 18 holes, and as such ONLY 18-hole scorecards should be included in your handicap (Editor)

Use of an Expected Score for a Hole Not Played

The New WHS Handicap Rules Changes have been made, to accommodate the method used to handle holes not played.

Which will now be based on a player’s ‘expected score’ rather than a score of net par.

This new method will produce a 9-hole or 18-hole Score Differential that more accurately reflects a player’s ability.

As golfers across the world are playing more 9-hole rounds, an expected score can also be used to convert a 9-hole round into an 18-hole Score Differential.

For some countries, this means that 9-hole scores will be considered in the calculation of a player’s Handicap Index immediately after the day of play.

Rather than waiting to combine with another 9-hole score.

TSG Verdict – The Social Golfer Team does not believe you can record an ‘estimated’ score and as such we shall continue to use the Gross score + 2 + Handicap Allowance. (Editor)

More Frequent Playing Conditions Calculation Adjustments

The Playing Conditions Calculation has been modified to increase the likelihood of an adjustment for abnormal playing conditions.

National associations were given discretion, beginning in July 2022.

To introduce this revision within their computation platforms, which will be complete by 1 April 2024.

TSG Verdict – The Social Golfer system has been designed in a way that if you are playing ‘competition golf’ you can adjust your score at any time using the PCC toggle. (Editor)

Players will receive shots based on ‘Course difficulty’

Currently, the formula used is Handicap Index x (Slope/113).

However, the new calculation for course handicap will be Handicap Index x (Slope/113) + (Course Rating – Par).

This updated formula will move that target score to net par/36 points for all handicap indexes. 

This means if the course rating is higher than par, players will receive additional strokes.

Whereas, if the course rating is lower than the Par, they will lose strokes. 

For example, a male player currently playing the Hotchkin course at Woodhall Spa from the white tees.

With a handicap index of 10.0, they would receive a course handicap of 13 (10.0 x (151/113) = 13.362831).

However, using Course Rating – Par, the course handicap would be 15 (14.76 rounded up).

TSG Verdict – The Social Golfer Team is happy to introduce this new formula to their system and will endeavour to do so by the 1st April 2024 deadline. (Editor)

Fourball formats to count towards handicap

Currently, only scores from certain singles formats of play can count toward a handicap.

From the start of April, however, scores from fourball competitions (such as strokeplay, Stableford, and par/bogey) will also be accepted.

The only caveat is that one player of the pair must have scored on a minimum of nine holes.

And the total pair score must be at least 42 points (or six under par). 

If these triggers are hit, however, the golfer who has scored on the minimum nine holes will have an upscaling value added for their un-played holes, based upon their playing partner’s score.

If this score equates to 36+ points (level par or better), a score differential will be calculated and recorded for handicap purposes.

TSG Verdict – The Social Golfer Team WILL NOT be adding this change to their Handicapping system as we do not believe foursomes and fourballs are a true reflection of an eligible scorecard. What next…are we going to include Texas Scramble Scorecards? (Editor)

Enhanced Guidance on Conducting a Handicap Review

With the WHS Handicap rules changes coming into effect on 1st April 2024, a handicap review should be conducted at least once a year for every player.

With a WHS handicap, to ensure the handicap index remains reflective of that player’s ability.

New reporting tools have been developed for national associations.

These can be incorporated into their handicapping software to assist committees in conducting the review process effectively and consistently.

TSG Verdict – Excellent News! The Social Golfer Team has always offered to review a player’s handicap at any time. Paul Houghton our Handicapping Secretary is happy to review any member’s Handicap Index at any time. Contact theteam@thesocialgolfer.com (Editor)

By Ian Mullins