World handicap system

A simple guide to the new system

The World Handicap System (WHS) will be introduced early in November 2020.

It will enable golfers to play casually or competitively on any course in any country, on a fair basis with golfers of any ability.


Handicap Index

The Handicap Index indicates a golfer’s ability on a course of standard difficulty.

The average of the lowest eight scores out of twenty scores, gives a golfer’s Handicap Index which is recalculated as each new score is submitted. However, in readiness for the start of WHS, golfers with twenty scores will receive a Transition Handicap which may be slightly higher or lower than your existing handicap.


Your Handicap Index must be entered on your scorecard.


Handicap Index allotment will continue to be based on a minimum of 54 holes of golf. However, the initial Handicap Index of golfers who do not yet have twenty scores on their record will be calculated from the scores they have handed in. Therefore, golfers are encouraged to submit sufficient scores before the system implementation in November.


Once the System is up and running, to minimise large fluctuations in Handicap Index as a result of ‘a bad patch’ or a period of exceptionally low scores, the system incorporates control measures to even out sudden rises or drops in a golfer’s Handicap Index.


Course and Slope Rating

All courses have been re-assessed according to their length and difficulty, for both Scratch golfers and Bogey golfers (those of average ability i.e. 20 – 24 handicap).


The Course Rating indicates the difficulty of a course for a Scratch golfer. This replaces the SSS (Standard Scratch Score).


The Slope Rating indicates the relative difficulty of a course for a Bogey golfer compared to a Scratch golfer and is shown as a number. The higher the number, the more difficult a Bogey golfer will find the course compared to a Scratch golfer. This information is used in the calculation to ensure ‘fairness’ between golfers of different abilities on every course.


Ratings for Billingbear Park G.C. are shown below


BPGC 18 holes Front 9 Back 9
CR = Course Rating

SR = Slope Rating

White Tees 68.6 118 34.0 116 34.6 119
Yellow Tees 66.8 117 33.2 117 33.6 117
Red Tees (Men) 64.8 108 32.0 105 32.8 111
Red Tees (Ladies) 69.8 118 34.2 116 35.6 120

Handicap Tables Billingbear Park Golf Course – 18 holes

Women Red Front 9

Women Red Back 9

Men White Front 9

Men White Back 9

Men Yellow Front 9

Men Yellow Back 9


Course Handicap

The Course handicap is the number of strokes a golfer receives from a specific set of tees on the course being played (prior to handicap allowance adjustments e.g. in playing a Four ball better ball etc.)

Each golf club will have numeric tables on display so golfers can check the number of strokes they receive on that course using their Handicap Index. This will be their Playing Handicap for the course. On a more difficult course a golfer may receive extra strokes and on easier courses receive fewer strokes. This should be written in the space ‘Strokes received’ by your handicap Index.

It is anticipated that tables will also be made available for use in Nine-hole competitions and the stroke allowance calculation over the nine holes may well be different.


Acceptable Scores

Acceptable scores must be played over 9 or 18 holes, using an authorised format (e.g. Stroke play, Stableford etc.) and which will include club competitions and social scores/general play rounds (formerly known as Supplementary Scores). However, golfers wishing to submit an acceptable score must register this intention before beginning their round and remember to return their score the same day.


Adjusted Gross Score

As already happens for handicap purposes, a very high score on any hole will be adjusted to two strokes over a golfer’s stroke allowance for the hole (Nett Double Bogey). The same will apply on holes a golfer fails to complete.


Playing Conditions Calculation

As performance can be affected by wind and weather, at the end of each day a Playing Conditions Calculation will be applied automatically to all scores to reflect the prevailing conditions on that day.

Overnight, the Handicap Index of any golfer who submitted a score during the day will be adjusted in readiness for play the following day.


Preparing for your round & play


H – Check your Handicap Index. Write it on your scorecard with your name, date, tees used and competition title or Social Score


C – Course Handicap. Use the numeric table to find out your stroke allowance on the course.


P – Play your round of golf, sign your scorecard and remember to submit your scores.


Additional WHS information


Click here for early access to the WHS England Golf Platform


Information England golf will collect from you – WHS privacy notice


You can find more details on the England Golf website


Download the WHS Toolkit from:


A selection of WHS Videos can be found at –


WHS Definitions

The attached document summarises the new WHS definitions


Rules of Handicapping – download the Players Reference Guide at: