World Handicap System

The New World Handicap System

As of January 1, 2020, the USGA and The R&A launched the World Handicap System. The new handicap system is designed to create a single set of rules for handicaps, provide a consistent measurement of a golfer's playing ability, and create more flexibility in applying a player's handicap to competitive or recreational rounds.

The major changes include:
(Source: USGA)
  • Flexibility in formats of play, allowing both competitive and recreational rounds to count for handicap purposes and ensuring that 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 national or regional 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 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). Example: A Course Handicap of 18 receives one stroke per hole for 18 holes; the player’s max score is triple bogey on any hole, which equals a Net Double Bogey.
  • 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
The USGA created educational resources to help golfers understand and apply the World Handicap System: Our Tournament and Handicap Committee and PGA Professional staff is available to answer questions and to help our members apply the new World Handicap System.
 

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