World Handicap System: Your questions answered

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 10, 2020 17:14

The World Handicap System (WHS) is set to be launched in Great Britain and Ireland in November. A number of golf club managers have sent in questions to us about it – and here to answer them is Gemma Hunter, head of Handicapping & Course Rating for England Golf.

Why has the new World Handicap System been created?

The new World Handicap System has been developed to unite six handicapping authorities around the globe and create a handicap index that is fair, equitable and portable anywhere in the world.

It will also provide a truer reflection of a player’s current playing ability. WHS will be launched in England and across the whole of Great Britain and Ireland on November 2, 2020.

How does the new WHS differ from the old CONGU system?

The two systems have some similarities and some differences. The biggest difference is that the CONGU system is an incremental system, where your handicap is adjusted based on your last returned score.

WHS bases your Handicap Index on the average of the best eight from your last 20 scores. This means it considers your overall ability rather than simply your last performance.

Given the slope adjustment, should the opportunity have been taken to create an all-encompassing, non-gender-based handicap system to promote inclusivity?

The WHS makes no reference to gender. The only element that contains a gender calculation is Course Rating and this is necessary as there are too many physical differences between men and women.

It would not be equitable to use the same processes for both genders. The WHS, like the CONGU system, does allow competitions to be played from different tees.

This could be men playing a range of tees to suit ability or a mixed competition with men and women.

As part of the new WHS, are golfers allowed to have two handicap indexes?

No, WHS states that players should have only one index and one home club.

Will golf clubs have to pay for the new course signage as part of the WHS or will England Golf be covering the costs using a club’s affiliation fee?

England Golf has partnered with Eagle to provide a discount on course signage related to WHS. We understand that every club might want something different.

Some clubs have three sets of tees, others may have six. Some clubs have space for a free-standing board, while others would need something that fixes to a wall or existing signage. By partnering with Eagle, clubs have the option to purchase what is right for them.

England Golf’s Head of Handicapping & Course Rating, Gemma Hunter

A new WHS toolkit has been launched by England Golf, how do you plan to use it to educate golf clubs and their members?

The toolkit is designed to allow clubs to continue to educate their members on the new WHS system.

Many club officials attended WHS workshops prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and this toolkit builds on the knowledge gained at these events. It will allow clubs to help educate members on the changes that are coming.

The toolkit takes a step-by-step journey through the new WHS and comes with downloadable resources for clubs to put out to members via their own channels of communication. C

lubs can also adhere to a timeline for the education of members, which will coincide with national media campaigns on the key elements of the WHS.

As part of the toolkit, England Golf has introduced a new education campaign called ‘Know the Score’. How will this campaign work and why has it been created?

The ‘Know the Score’ campaign aims to do exactly that – educate golfers on how their handicap index is calculated and how to apply this when playing the game. ‘Know the Score’ is a simple way for golfers as yet unfamiliar with the basics of the new WHS to understand how the three key elements (Handicap Index, Course Rating and Slope Rating) combine to produce their course handicap on any given day on any given course.

What impact did the pandemic have, if any, on your education process and the seminars you were giving to golf clubs?

Fortunately, we started the process of educating clubs and counties on WHS with a series of workshops from October last year.

We had to cancel a few workshops near the end of our planned run, but the impact has not been too disruptive, and we made sure everyone enrolled in a cancelled workshop was sent the presentation, so that they could look over the details for themselves.

Are there any key timings golf clubs should adhere to when trying to educate their members on the WHS between now and November 2nd?

Included within the toolkit is a timeline which will clearly set out to clubs when they can expect further communications on WHS and how they should schedule educational material they already possess.

Golfers can also access information on WHS at any time by using the England Golf website and also the online hubs provided by both The R&A and USGA under whose auspices the new system has been introduced.

How do you think the new WHS will be received by golfers in England?

The feedback we have had at many of our workshops from the clubs has been really positive. Of course any change to a system we have all used for years can be a little daunting, but once golfers understand the system and the benefits it will bring then I’m sure they will soon be in the swing of things.

It’s important to remember that this does not change how we play or enjoy the game, just how our handicap is calculated, and the computer does most of the work.

What are some of the most important aspects of the WHS that golfers need to know about?

The most important aspect of WHS for golfers to understand is the stages they need to follow in order to turn their Handicap Index into a Course Handicap for the venue they are playing at. This will soon become second nature.

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 10, 2020 17:14
Write a comment


  1. Jobbie December 21, 17:11

    Does your golf club have the right to
    Refuse you a handicap if you change
    From a full membership to a 5 day

    Reply to this comment
    • AKS December 23, 11:03

      no, whilst a member of a golf club you keep your handicap, only can be if under a disciplinary

      Reply to this comment
  2. Al November 6, 11:19

    Due to injury I have not played to my handicap for 2 years. Consequently I went from 12 to a 17 handicap.
    I have joined a new club after my old club closed. Under the new system I have been cut to 11.7 how does that work. I can’t play to my old handicap so I feel like packing my golf in.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Martin November 5, 09:05

    My congu was 19 so my whs is 10
    My friend was 17 and now his whs is 22 don’t understand the difference

    Reply to this comment
  4. Gus Mawdesley November 2, 21:53

    Under the new WHS my best 8 average is lower than my friends best 8, same course, same comps.
    His new Handicap Index is 2 lower than mine.
    I don’t understand?

    Reply to this comment
    • Al November 6, 11:16

      Due to injury I have not played to my handicap for 2 years. Consequently I went from 12 to a 17 handicap.
      I have joined a new club after my old club closed. Under the new system I have been cut to 11.7 how does that work. I can’t play to my old handicap so I feel like packing my golf in.

      Reply to this comment
  5. Andrew October 26, 17:45

    How do I get this new handicap if I do not belong to a Club. Not everyone can afford to be a club member

    Reply to this comment
    • Nelson November 8, 13:23

      Do golf clubs have the authority to set a handicap limit on competitions?
      For example, a lady with a playing handicap of 42 is told by the club, she must play of36 in all club competitions.

      Reply to this comment
  6. supergolfer October 24, 20:29

    What is the answer to the question above i.e.
    Does the slope effect your handicap on your home course?
    Surely your handicap is based from results on this course and should stay the same for home comps?

    Reply to this comment
    • Damo November 6, 19:42

      On my whs scoring record, I have no scores from Sept 20th, after this date I played 3 comps and had 3 great scores which arnt on there, so my hcap could go lower etc has anyone else suffered from this…

      Reply to this comment
  7. Captain06 October 23, 22:31

    Why does gender appear on the colour of the tees. Can’t anyone play off any tee? Thought gender didn’t matter?

    Reply to this comment
    • CliffK October 27, 22:04

      Data as of today for my WHS index is based on rounds up to end August. When will sept and Oct competition scores be included?

      Reply to this comment
  8. BarryV October 23, 10:14

    Does the slope effect your handicap on your home course the feeling is it won’t ?

    Reply to this comment
  9. Phil October 6, 15:00

    When do players find out what their handicap indexes are?

    Reply to this comment
  10. Andy September 30, 20:25

    As a golf club.Do you need to change your existing scorecards before November 2nd ?

    Reply to this comment
    • Phil October 6, 15:01

      No. Existing stock of cards can be used up.

      Reply to this comment
    • Damo November 6, 19:43

      On my whs scoring record, I have no scores from Sept 20th, after this date I played 3 comps and had 3 great scores which arnt on there, so my hcap could go lower etc has anyone else suffered from this…

      Reply to this comment
  11. Ivan H August 13, 18:53

    As a member of a club in South Africa I already have a WWH – when will you be releasing course slop rating so we can enter correct scores.

    Reply to this comment
    • Live SA September 24, 07:01

      We belong to a Golf club in SA too, and I want to know which club becomes our home club?
      How do we choose?

      Reply to this comment
  12. Macker. August 10, 18:52

    Can you show us a typical example for an average handicapper.

    Reply to this comment
    • AKS August 13, 11:01

      If at the moment a players handicap is say 17.0 after having 20 cards in the last 2 years when under CSS in competition or SSS for supplementary cards they lose 0.3 per stroke under, and 0.1 increase when outside the buffer zone there likely course handicap will be the same 17 as all the WHS does to change a current handicap to a handicap index is nett differential x 113/slope rating.
      When looking through around 200 records the difference in strokes received will be -3 to +3 for current members due mainly to fewer than 20 rounds in their records.
      All the WHS does is take the last 20 scores so the movable average of the 8 best rounds may or may not change a handicap index.
      Players themselves as it is now just rely on the club pc to tell them what their handicap is, so no change really. And players only need to read a simple chart when going to play at any course. The difference in difficulty course to course, tee to tee will not be that dramatic and be similar to the sss difference as it is now.

      Reply to this comment
  13. Daihenry August 10, 13:57

    Can I play off any tees in my Club competition.I am 81 yrs old and would like to play off the shortest tees to avoid long carries

    Reply to this comment
    • Golfer2307 August 10, 15:08

      That would depend where your club tells you too tee off from, I believe that all clubs should have different markers for different ages

      Reply to this comment
      • Chatrac August 10, 22:21

        I have played under this system in another country where they piloted this and it works great. Back tees the higher your handicap. Forward tees the lower your handicap. Additionally, playing easier courses reduces your handicap and vice versa

        Reply to this comment
        • Keenongolf September 21, 21:05

          When the Slope system was first mooted we were told it would make it fairer if we played a match against someone on a course that was rated harder. So if I’m 20 handicap and I play against someone who us also 20 at their course which is harder , how does that work out?

          Reply to this comment
        • Rick November 1, 12:04

          Surely that is the other way round? Higher handicap players from the forward tees, and lower handicap players from the back tees.

          Reply to this comment
      • Mum November 11, 14:33

        Is there any provision for playing off blue tees particularly for over 80 s

        Reply to this comment
  14. Billsy August 10, 11:34

    Questions youve asked yourselves to paint the changes in a positive light. How do weather conditions affect a handicap in competitions? Are general play revisions still allowed? How will returning scores in a social game whilst playing in a four ball affect pace of play

    Reply to this comment
View comments

Write a comment


Join Our Mailing List

Read the latest issues

Advertise With Us

For editorial enquiries in the magazine or online, contact:

For advertising enquiries in the magazine or online, contact: