World Handicap System

1. Course Rating & Slope Rating
Course Rating represents the difficulty of a golf course for a Scratch Golfer (0 Handicap Index), calculated to the nearest 0.1.

Slope Rating represents the relative difficulty of a course for a Bogey Golfer (20 to 24 Handicap) compared to a Scratch Golfer.

* A course with long carries, narrow fairways, lots of hazards and thick rough will have a high slope rating because these features are more of a challenge to bogey golfers.
* Slope Rating can be anywhere between 55 and 155.
113 is the neutral Slope Rating that indicates a course of equal difficulty for a scratch and bogey players.
* The GB&I average Slope Rating is 125.
* Sidcup Course Ratings and Slope Ratings are shown at the top of this page.

2. Acceptable Scores for Handicap Purposes
All 9 hole and 18 hole individual competition rounds in Medal, Stableford, Par/Bogey and Maximum Score formats must be submitted for handicap purposes, subject to the competition being played to the Rules of Golf on a golf course with a current Course Rating and Slope Rating.

Scores from team competitions and match play are not currently acceptable in England, although this may change based on feedback from other jurisdictions that include those format

2.1 Pre-registration
Players are required to register their intention to submit a score from a Casual Round before commencing the round. Please notify the Pro Shop before you play.

2.2 Minimum Number of Holes
Scores can be be accepted for handicap purposes when a round is not fully completed if there is a valid reason why some holes are not played, such as:

* Fading light or bad weather

* Player injury or illness

* A hole being declared out of play for maintenance or reconstruction

* When a competition has been arranged over less than 18 holes.

2.3 9 Hole Scores

* All 9 holes must be played to submit a 9 hole score.
* 9 hole scores are scaled up to an 18 hole score by adding Net Pars for the remaining holes, plus one additional stroke, i.e. the equivalent of 17 points in Stableford format.

2.4 18 Hole Scores

* 10 or more holes must be played to submit an 18 hole score.
* If 10 to 13 holes have been played, the first hole not played is recorded as (Net Par + 1) and the remaining holes as Net Par.
* If 14 or more holes have been played, the holes not played are recorded as Net Par.
* The player's Course Handicap (not Playing Handicap) is used when determining Net Par.

2.5 Adjusted Gross Scores
* For handicap purposes a big score on any hole is reduced to Net Double Bogey.

* Holes started, but not completed are also recorded as Net Double Bogey.

* The player's Course Handicap (not Playing Handicap) is used when determining Net Double Bogey.

* The adjusted scores for each hole and scores for any holes not played are summed to give the Adjusted Gross Score for the round.

2.6 Score Differential

* The player's Adjusted Gross Score is compared with the Course Rating and is "de-sloped" to give the Score Differential for the round

* A woman playing the Red tees at Sidcup (Course Rating 69.9, Slope Rating 129) has an Adjusted Gross Score of 90. Her Score Differential is:

Score Differential = [ 90 - 69.9 ] x [ 113 / 129 ] = 17.6

* A man playing the Yellow Alternate tees at Sidcup (Course Rating 68.3, Slope Rating 122) has an Adjusted Gross Score of 90. His Score Differential is:

Score Differential = [ 90 - 66.4 ] x [ 113 / 122 ] = 21.9

* The Score Differential is added to the player's Scoring Record and used to calculate their new Handicap Index.

2.7 Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC)
* The Playing Conditions Calculation is similar to the CSS adjustment under the old CONGU system

* It determines if course and weather conditions on the day differed from normal to the extent that they significantly impacted players’ performance

* It is calculated using all scores submitted on the course that day, as long as 8 or more golfers with a Handicap Index of less than 36 and a fully developed Scoring Record played

* It is conservative in nature and can increase the Adjusted Gross Score by 1 in easy conditions or decrease it by 1, 2 or 3 in difficult conditions

3. Handicap Index

* Handicap Index is a measure of a player's demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty

* It represents a golfer's Playing Handicap on a course with a Neutral Slope Rating of 113

* It is calculated as a rolling average of the lowest 8 from the last 20 Score Differentials

* Each time a new score is submitted the average of the lowest 8 from the last 20 is re-calculated, which may or may not lead to a change of Handicap Index

* There are additional safeguards to ensure that a player's handicap does not rise too quickly when a player is going through a spell of poor form

3.1 Low Handicap Index (LHI)
* A player's lowest Handicap Index during the last 12 months is used as an Anchor Point to limit increases in Handicap Index

* Soft CAP: Potential increases of Handicap Index to a figure greater than (LHI + 3) are limited by half the amount over three, e.g. 5 is limited to 4, 6 is limited to 4.5, etc.

* Hard CAP: The maximum that the Handicap Index can increase to is (LHI + 5).

3.2 Exceptional Scores
* An adjustment to the Handicap Index after a very low score has been posted

* A reduction of -1 for scores between 7 and 9 below Handicap Index

* A reduction of -2 for scores 10 or more below Handicap Index

* The reduction is applied to the last 20 scores on the Scoring Record and drops off gradually over the next 20 rounds.

3.3 New Player Handicaps
A New Player's Handicap Index is initially allocated at 2 less than the best of the Adjusted Gross Scores from 3 x 18 hole cards submitted. Cards can be submitted as 6 x 9 hole or some other combination. Subsequent Handicap Index calculations change as more scores are entered:

* 3 scores: lowest score -2
* 4 scores: lowest score -1
* 5 scores: lowest score
* 6 scores: average of lowest 2 scores -1
* 7 to 8 scores: average of lowest 2 scores
* 9 to 11 scores: average of lowest 3 scores
* 12 to 14 scores: average of lowest 4 scores
* 15 to 16 scores: average of lowest 5 scores
* 17 to 18 scores: average of lowest 6 scores
* 19 scores: average of lowest 7 scores
* 20 scores: average of lowest 8 scores

4. Course Handicap
Course Handicap is the number of handicap strokes a player receives before Handicap Allowances, on a specific course and from a specific set of tees, as determined by the Slope Rating.

There are Conversion Charts on display on the notice boards in the locker rooms, adjacent to the 1st tee (and below) where you can look up your Course Handicap.

A player's 18 hole Course Handicap is determined by multiplying their Handicap Index by the the Slope Rating of the course/tees being played, dividing by the neutral Slope Rating of 113 and rounding to the nearest whole number.

For example, for a man with a 20.1 Handicap Index playing from the White tees at Sidcup:

* Course Handicap = 20.1 x [ 123 / 113 ] = 21.8 (24)

* A player's 9 hole Course Handicap factors in the difference between the 9 hole Par and 9 hole Course Rating, in much the same way as under the old CONGU system.

* For example, from the Red tees at Sidcup (front 9): the Course Handicap of a woman with a 20.1 Handicap Index is calculated as:

* Course Handicap = [ 20.1 / 2 ] x [ 127 / 113 ] + [ 34.7 - 34] = 11.9 (7)

* Course Handicap is used in determining Net Double Bogey adjustments when calculating Adjusted Gross Scores and in determining Net Par scores for Unplayed Holes that go on a player's Scoring Record for handicap purposes.

4.1 Handicap Allowance
Handicap Allowance is the percentage of Course Handicap for the format of play.

The allowances for the most commonly used formats are designated as mandatory by England Golf, for example: 95% for individual stroke play and 85% for pairs and teams better-ball.

4. 2 Playing Handicap
Playing Handicap is the Course Handicap adjusted for any Handicap Allowance. It represents the actual number of strokes the player gives or receives for the round being played.

Playing Handicap is used to determine Competition Results.

5. Transition Handicaps
To move from CONGU to WHS handicaps, all players' Handicap Records have been reprocessed using the WHS principles. The calculations identified the best 8 of the last 20 Qualifying Scores, if posted since January 2018, and factored in:

* The adjusted Gross Score
* The Course Rating
* Any CSS adjustments
* The Slope Rating of the tees played

With less than 20 scores since January 2018, the calculation was done in a similar manner to the method of allocating new handicaps:

* 3 scores: lowest score -2
* 4 scores: lowest score -1
* 5 scores: lowest score
* 6 scores: average of lowest 2 scores -1
* 7 to 8 scores: average of lowest 2 scores
* 9 to 11 scores: average of lowest 3 scores
* 12 to 14 scores: average of lowest 4 scores
* 15 to 16 scores: average of lowest 5 scores
* 17 to 18 scores: average of lowest 6 scores
* 19 scores: average of lowest 7 scores
* 20 scores: average of lowest 8 scores

6. Definitions

Acceptable Score
A score from an authorized format of play which meets all the provisions set out within the Rules of Handicapping.

Adjusted Gross Score
A player’s gross score, including any penalty strokes, adjusted for when:

* The player exceeds their maximum hole score,
* A hole is not played, or
* A hole is started but the player does not hole out.

Authorized Format of Play
A format of play eligible for handicap purposes, as determined by the Authorized Association where the round is played.

Bogey Player
A player with a Handicap Index of approximately 20.0 for men and approximately 24.0 for women.

Cap
The procedure that reduces or limits the amount by which a player’s Handicap Index can increase when measured against the player’s Low Handicap Index.

Course Handicap
The number of handicap strokes a player receives, before handicap allowances, from a specific set of tees as determined by the Slope Rating.

Course Rating
An indication of the difficulty of a golf course for the scratch player under normal course and weather conditions.

Exceptional Score
A Score Differential which is at least 7.0 strokes better than the player’s Handicap Index at the time the round was played.

General Play
When an organised competition is not being contested and golfers are playing:

* A casual round; or
* Competitively, but not in an event organized by a Committee.

Handicap Allowance
The percentage of a Course Handicap applied to create equity for all players participating in a specific format of play.

Handicap Index
The measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (Slope Rating 113)

Low Handicap Index
The lowest Handicap Index achieved by a player during the 365 day period preceding the day on which the most recent score in their scoring record was played.

Net Double Bogey
A score equal to the par of a hole plus two strokes and adjusted for any handicap strokes applied on that hole. A net double bogey is a player’s maximum hole score for handicap purposes.

Net Par
A score equal to the par of a hole adjusted for any handicap strokes applied on that hole.

Par
The score that a scratch player would generally be expected to achieve on a hole under normal course and weather conditions, allowing for two strokes on the putting green.

Penalty Score
A score posted at the discretion of the Handicap Committee for a player who does not submit an acceptable score when required.

Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC)
The statistical calculation that determines if conditions on a day of play differed from normal playing conditions to the extent that they significantly impacted players’ performance.

Playing Handicap
The Course Handicap adjusted for any handicap allowances or Terms of the Competition. It represents the actual number of strokes the player gives or receives for the round being played.

Score Differential
The difference between a player’s Adjusted Gross Score and the Course Rating, reflecting the Slope Rating and the Playing Conditions Calculation. It is the numerical value attributed to a score achieved on a golf course on a specific day that is posted into the player’s scoring record.

Scoring Record
A history of a player’s acceptable scores along with:

* The player’s current Handicap Index,
* The player’s Low Handicap Index,
* Other details about each round (such as, the date the round was played), and
* Any applicable adjustments (for example, an exceptional score).

Scratch Player
A player with a Handicap Index of 0.0.

Slope Rating
An indication of the relative difficulty of a golf course for players who are not scratch players compared to players who are scratch players

Stroke Index
The value assigned to each hole on a golf course to indicate where handicap strokes are given or received.

WHS: Know the Score

Know the Score is an educational campaign launched by England Golf in the latter half of 2020 to bring all the different elements of the WHS together to provide a consistent message that golfers will begin to recognise and associate with the WHS.

The short articles below take you through the system step by step.