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Published by , 2018-12-17 16:56:13



What’s New For 2020?


How to Use the Rule Book

The “Rules of Handicapping” will consist of nine
Rules, found within five Sections.

The Sections are:

I. Fundamentals of Handicapping
II. Scores for Handicap Purposes
III. Handicap Calculation and

Updating a Handicap Index
V. Handicap Allowances
IV. Administration of a Handicap Index

There will also be eight Appendices, which will
contain further details and more information.


Structure of the WHS

In order to use the World Handicap System,
Associations must be authorized by The R&A
and the USGA.

Authorized Associations may be regional,
national, or multi-national.

Within its area of jurisdiction, a multi-national or
national Authorized Association is responsible for
selecting Discretionary Items, such as the formats of
play that will be acceptable for score posting and
how to treat nine-hole scores.

Regional Authorized Associations, like the Southern
California Golf Association, will be responsible for
ensuring that the Rules of Handicapping are applied
in a uniform matter by their member golf clubs.

These Authorized Associations will also oversee the
rating of all courses within its jurisdiction.


Handicap Index Calculation

There are five significant changes to the Handicap
Index calculation coming in 2020. They are:

1) The minimum number of scores required

2) The number of differentials used

3) The addition of a Soft Cap and Hard

Cap to limit upward movement

4) An Exceptional Score Reduction that considers

all scores

5) A Playing Conditions Adjustment


Minimum Number of Scores

1) The minimum number of scores to establish a Handicap
Index will be 54 holes-- made up of any combination of 9 or 18-
hole rounds. There will be no time limit on when these scores
are submitted.

Currently, the USGA Handicap System requires 5 scores before a
player can be issued a Handicap Index.

It will be strongly recommended that a player’s initial 3 scores are
submitted hole-by-hole to enable clubs to better assess the player’s

A new player establishing a Handicap Index will use PAR + 5 as
their maximum score per hole.

Insert An overarching theme of the
Image World Handicap System is to
Here become more inclusive– and this
feature should encourage golfers
who play sporadically to establish
and maintain a Handicap Index.


Number of Differentials Used

2) The following table will be used to determine the number

of differentials that will be factored into the Handicap Index
calculation, as well as any additional adjustment:

The USGA Handicap System currently uses 10 of 20 with a
.96 bonus for excellence.

An 8 of 20 system will be more responsive to good scores and
eliminate the need for a bonus for excellence.


Number of Differentials (cont.)

The third column in this table calls for an additional adjustment
when a certain number of scores exist in a player’s scoring
record. When limited scoring information is available, a
downward adjustment is used to project the player’s potential
A player typically plays to their handicap one out of every five
rounds, so when only three scores exist, for example, it’s
possible that the player hasn’t yet played to their potential.
This adjustment also exists as a safeguard to protect the field.


Limit on Upward Movement

3) A Soft Cap and Hard Cap will be implemented to
limit the upward movement of a player’s Handicap Index
within a 12-month period.

The Soft Cap will suppress upward movement by 50%

after a 3.0 increase over 12-month Low H.I has been

The Hard Cap will restrict upward movement to

5.0 over the Low H.I from past 12 months.

Insert The caps will ensure that a temporary
Image loss of form does not cause a player’s
Here Handicap Index to move too far from a
level consistent with their demonstrated

The caps also serve as anti-abuse
safeguards and will aid in minimizing the
potential for handicap manipulation.

The Handicap Committee at the club will have the ability to allow
a player’s Index to exceed the hard cap if special circumstances
such as injuries exist.


Soft Cap Example

Player A has a Low H.I. of 10.0.
His current 8 of 20 average is 15.2.

Step 1: Subtract the Low H.I. from current 8 of 20 average:

15.2 – 10.0 = 5.2

Step 2: Determine how much greater than 3.0 the result is:

5.2 – 3.0 = 2.2

Step 3: Subtract 50% of the resulting value from 8 of 20 avg:

Current 8 of 20 average: 15.2 -
50% of 2.2: 1.1

Handicap Index of: 14.1


Hard Cap Example

Player B has a Low H.I. of 10.0.
Her current 8 of 20 average is 17.4

Step 1: Subtract the Low H.I. from current 8 of 20 average:
17.4 – 10.0 = 7.4

Step 2: Determine how much greater than 3.0 the result is:
7.4 – 3.0 = 4.4

Step 3: Subtract 50% of the resulting value from 8 of 20 avg:
Current 8 of 20 average: 17.4 -
50% of 4.4: 2.2



Step 4: If result is more than 5.0 above Low H.I, reduce to
Low HI + 5.0 value.

Low H.I: 10.0

Handicap Index of: 15.0


Exceptional Score Reduction

4) Exceptional Score Reduction, or ESR is a procedure
for dealing with exceptional scores which may indicate the
player’s true ability. The procedure considers all scores,
not just Tournament scores.

How does it work?

If a player posts a score that produces a Net Score
Differential 7.0 strokes or better than their Handicap Index,
an automatic adjustment is made using the following table:

Score relative to Index -7 -10
Extra adjustment -1 -2

When an Exceptional Score is posted, a -1 or -2 adjustment
will be applied to each of the previous 20 differentials in a
player’s scoring record. The net result will be a 1.0 or 2.0
stroke reduction in their Handicap Index.

Subsequent scores posted will not contain the -1 or -2
adjustment, which allows the ESR adjustments to eventually
take care of itself.


Playing Conditions Calculation

5) When abnormal playing conditions cause scores to be
unusually high or low on a given day, a Playing Conditions
Calculation, or PCC, will adjust differentials to better reflect
the player’s actual performance.

The PCC will be simple and conservative in nature and
will be adjusted in integer values. +1, -2, etc.

 The minimum field size
must be eight.

 The calculation will only
consider players at or
below a Handicap Index
of 36.

 It will consider both 9
and 18-hole scores.

The PCC can also be used to indicate when the Course
Rating of a golf course needs to be looked at. If a
conservative adjustment is taking place 4-5 days a week, it
may be the ratings that are causing the adjustment to kick
in, or a potential issue with course setup.


Maximum Handicap Index

The Maximum Handicap Index for men and women
will be 54.0.

Although the current
number of golfers in the US
that are at or above the
current maximums of 36.4
and 40.4 is relatively small,
many golfers who currently
play but don’t have a
handicap would be at or
above those numbers.

By encouraging more novice golfers to get a Handicap Index
and learn about the WHS, we can incentivize golfers to
improve their games and utilize pace of play provisions such as
picking up at their maximum score.

Clubs will still have the discretion to implement a lower
maximum limit for competitions through a condition of the
competition. Committee’s will also be able to restrict
Course/Playing Handicaps to 54.


Course Handicap Calculation

Under the USGA Handicap System, a Course Handicap is the
number of strokes a player receives to play down to the Course
Rating of the tees being played. The current formula is:

Course Handicap =
Handicap Index x Slope Rating / 113

Under the Rules of Handicapping, a Course 15
Handicap will be the number of strokes a player
receives to play down to the Par of the tees being
played. The formula will be:

Course Handicap =
(Handicap Index x Slope Rating / 113) + (CR – PAR)

This will simplify the process for setting up multi-tee
competitions and eliminate the Section 3-5 adjustment.

There will, however, need to be an additional adjustment when
players compete from tees where Par is different – as they will
be playing to different benchmarks.

It will be important that Par values are accurate – and this will be
emphasized to clubs by AGAs – since Par will be used as the
benchmark for Course Handicaps.


Playing Handicap Calculation

When handicap allowances are used in various 13
formats of play, Course Handicaps are
adjusted to make the competition equitable.

Under the Rules of Handicapping, the
adjusted Course Handicap will be referred to
as a Playing Handicap.

Playing Handicap

(Course Handicap x handicap allowance) + difference in par

Currently, when Course Handicaps are adjusted based on
handicap allowances, we still refer to the resulting values as
Course Handicaps -- even though they don’t meet the definition.

The introduction of the defined term “Playing Handicap” will
allow for a clearer distinction between the two terms.


Max Score for HDCP Purposes

Net Double Bogey will be used when a player’s actual or most
likely score exceeds a maximum number derived using the
following formula:

Net Double Bogey =

Par + 2 +/- Handicap strokes received or given on a hole.


A player with a Course Handicap of 11 receives one stroke on
the first 11 allocated stroke holes.

On a par 4 hole with a Stroke Index of 6, the player’s Net
Double Bogey maximum score is calculated as follows:

Par Two Strokes Max
+ + =4 2
Stroke(s) Received

Net Double Bogey is the primary method used around the
world and provides for a more consistent adjustment.

NDB is equal to zero points in Stableford, which is why
many parts of the world use this method.


Daily Revisions

Under the WHS, a Handicap Index will update daily.

It’s important to note that if a player does not post a score,
their Handicap Index will not update – as there will be no need

This feature should encourage golfers to post their scores
immediately following their round– which will also allow them
to contribute towards the PCA data pool.

A Decision in Section 5 of the USGA Handicap System cites two
weeks as a reasonable timeframe for Handicap Committees to
expect players to post -- but this expected timeframe will be
shortened since revisions take place daily and it’s quite easy
to post score nowadays.

When it comes to multi-day competitions, the Committee in
charge of the competition can choose to use the Handicap
Index at the start of the competition for all rounds, or to use
the updated Handicap Index for each day.


International Posting

When a round is played within a player’s home jurisdiction,
scores are acceptable from authorized formats of play as
determined by their authorized association.

When traveling internationally, scores made in authorized
formats at home are also acceptable anywhere else in the
world – even if they are unauthorized in that area by their
authorized association.

Scores made in formats that are unacceptable at home but
acceptable in the region where the round was played are
acceptable and must be posted.

Authorized at Home Unauthorized at Home

Authorized Away Submit Score Submit Score

Unauthorized Away Submit Score Unacceptable


Handicap Allowances

Handicap Allowances create equity for various forms of
team competition and fall under the heading of Conditions
of the Competitions. Ultimately, allowances are determined
by the Committee in charge of the competition, but the
Rules of Handicapping will provide recommendations.

Under the Rules of Handicapping, the allowance
recommendations will be the same for men and women.

The recommended percentage allowances differ slightly from
current USGA Handicap System recommendations, and this is due
to a change in the intended results of the allowance – for players
to place in top 5% instead of top 25%. -- CHECK WITH SCOTT.


Format: Allowance:
Head to Head 100%
Fourball 95%
Total Score of 2 Match Play 100%
50% Combined

Selected Drive (Greensomes) 50% Low/40% High
Chapman/Pinehurst 60% Low/40% High


Handicap Allowances (cont.)


Format: Allowance:
Singles Stroke Play/Stableford 95%
Fourball Stroke Play 85%
Fourball Par/Bogey 90%
Maximum Score Form of Stroke
Play 95%
Best 1 of 4 Net Field Event 75%
Best 2 of 4 Net Field Event 85%
Best 3 of 4 Net Field Event 100%
4 of 4 Net Field Event 100%
Total Score of 2 100%
Best 1 of 4 Par/Bogey 75%
Best 2 of 4 Par/Bogey 80%
Best 3 of 4 Par/Bogey 95%
4 of 4 Par/Bogey 100%
Foursomes 50% combined
Selected Drive (Greensomes) 50% Low/40% High
Chapman/Pinehurst 60% Low/40% High
25%/20%/15%/10% from
Scramble (4 players) lowest to highest
Scramble (2 players)
35% high, 15% low


Stroke Index Allocation

The Rules of Handicapping will recommend using
Course Rating data to rank the holes for Stroke
Index allocation.
The recommendation is to allocate odd strokes on
the front and even strokes on the back.
Specific strokes will be allocated using three-hole
clusters, with the #1 and 2 stroke holes in the
middle cluster.

Using Course Rating data to rank holes takes the
subjectivity out of the process. This process also
replaces the need to gather scores, which are often
difficult to accumulate from golfers in all necessary
handicap ranges.


Most Likely Score Guidelines

When a player starts, but does not complete a hole,
the score recorded for handicap purposes is the
Most Likely Score.
The Rules of Handicapping includes the following
guidelines for determining a most likely score:

The most likely score guidelines will provide more
consistency for score posting in match play and other
formats where player’s pick up but can still record an
acceptable score.


Treatment of 9-Hole Scores

Two options are presented for the treatment of 9-hole

1. Integrating a 9-hole score directly into the player’s scoring
record, without the need to wait for a second 9 to be
posted. This can be achieved by scaling up using net par
or net par +1 depending on the number of holes played.
- Note WHRT findings

2. Combine two 9-hole scores as done currently in the USGA
Handicap System.

Note: Regardless of decision, the combining method will
exist in 2020 when 7 or 8 are played


Handicap Review

The Rules of Handicapping includes additional
safeguards to enable Handicap Committees to ensure

Include details on Review Process and how it will

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