By Shawn McConnon

March 24, 2020

World Handicap System Golf

The World Handicap System is upon us in 2020. WHS will take about a half dozen or so handicap systems and consolidate them into one. This will create a more unified Handicap Index across the globe. Let's dive in on this historic golf handicap change.

Why Change the Current Golf Handicap Index/System?

The USGA & R&A already govern a single set of playing rules, equipment rules and rules for amateur status, so why should golf Handicaps be different? The spirit of the World Handicap System is to promote a single golfer Handicap that is consistent across the globe which aligns with the current rules already being followed globally.

Below are the top 10 things every golfer should know about the World Handicap System...

1. Golfers May See a Slight Handicap Index Change

Golfers who have a USGA golf handicap it may change but only slightly. It is more likely to impact other golfers around the world who are under one of the other half dozen Golf Handicap systems. Most U.S. players can see their golf handicap index move by less than a point.

2. Net Double Bogey - Max Scores

The USGA used a Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) to give a maximum score on any hole played. The World Handicap System also has a maximum in the form of a Net Double Bogey. Net Double Bogey is already used under other golf handicap systems. The calculation is simple: Par + 2+ any handicap strokes received for the hole.

Example: If a player gets a stroke on a Par 4 the maximum he or she can take is a 7.

Calculation: 4 (Par) + 2 + 1 (strokes received) = 7 (net double bogey)

3. Golf Course Handicap Matters

In the WHS (World Handicap System) the Course Handicap will be necessary to determine the strokes needed to play to par. This is actually a positive change as it is easy to remember par for a given course (typically 70-72). So to get your target score for the day’s round it’s Par + Course Handicap.

World Handicap System Course Handicap Calculation

Here is the USGA Course Handicap Calculator.

4. Maximum Handicap is Increasing Under WHS

In the past the maximum handicap index was 36.4 for men and 40.2 for women. The new World Handicap System will increase the max to 54. The spirit of this is to welcome golf newcomers and to get comfortable with posting their scores. Additionally, this will allow them to compete on a more level playing field in net events.

5. Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC) Means Handicap Will Weather the Storm

The Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC) will take into impact the scores posted at a course that specific day. So if winds are high and a golfer's score is impacted (a higher score) it will not adversely impact them as in the past. This is true as long as scores were higher that day on the specific course they played.

6. The End of Sandbaggers

Sandbaggers are going to have a harder time sandbagging with the World Handicap System (WHS). The golf handicap system will cap upward movement and also reduce a player’s golf handicap if they have a great round. Additionally, handicap committees will have the power to adjust if a player is constantly outplaying (scoring lower) their index.


7. Golf Handicaps Will Be Updated More Frequently

Gone are the days of waiting until the 15th of each month, how dated was that? WHS and their new golf handicap index will be updated any day after a golfer posts a new score. Essentially, it’s updated daily which is great for golfers and keeps them more engaged with their handicap. One caveat would be for tournament play. Tournament leaders will most likely have to establish a cut off date for handicaps.

New GHIN for World Handicap System

The Golf Handicap Information Network (GHIN) which is the main Handicap management system is getting an upgrade. Both the site and mobile app have been updated and now includes stat tracking.

8. Fewer scores will count towards handicap

In the past under the USGA system a golfer’s last 10 posted scores (usually posted to GHIN - Golf Handicap Information Network) would count towards their golf handicap. Under WHS it is reduced to a golfer’s last 8 rounds. This does a couple of things… It is more responsive to a golfer's current play and rewards more consistent play.

9. Less Holes to Get a Handicap Under World Handicap System

A nice addition is the amount of holes to get an official golf Handicap. In the past you needed 5 scores to get an official Handicap in golf. WHS only requires 3 rounds (54 holes) to get an official Handicap. Scores can be entered for 9 or 18 holes so you have some flexibility as well to get your Handicap quicker. 

10. Solo golf rounds will not be taken into your golf handicap

While most of what has been implemented by the new World Handicap System is designed to increase participation (like quicker Handicap updates & less rounds to get a golf handicap) one deterrent is solo golf rounds will not be allowed. 


The idea is to have an attested round to ensure proper conduct when posting scores. This also discourages sandbaggers (golfers who inflate their scores for tournament or money events) and those who need an ego boost.

World Handicap System Closing Thoughts for Golfers

For most avid golfers I believe the WHS is a positive change that promotes more inclusion across the globe. Golfers in the U.S. will hardly see any impact, but I am interested to see how this change will impact tournament play. Will there be a unified cut off timeline (i.e. 2 weeks) across golf tournaments? 

What are your thoughts on the World Handicap System? Leave a comment below and let us know if you think it's a positive or negative impact on the game.

Get Your Own FREE Golf Handicap Calculator

Looking to keep track of your handicap? We created a Handicap Calculator and Tracker for you to download. Click below...

About the author

Shawn is the founder of UpGlove. He started UpGlove to solve his own problem of getting an affordable player's glove. Shawn is a single-digit Handicap and loves to play different courses throughout Tampa Bay. He also enjoys taking his two doggies Brutus & Champi for long walks.

You might also like

  • Very helpful. Love how the author shows details by details. It’s Clear and easy to understand. Now it’s time to lower my handicap.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    Big on Feel. Small on Price.

    Stop getting ripped off at the pro shop for a decent golf glove.