‘Teething problems’ in first week of new World Handicap System

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 5, 2020 13:44

There are reports of teething problems, which were anticipated by golf’s authorities, after the new World Handicap System (WHS) was launched in the UK on Monday.

Some golfers have said they do not like the new system and there have been issues surrounding the transfer of data from clubs to centralised golf bodies, but some golfers have also praised the WHS so far.

Clearly the circumstances surrounding the launch are far from ideal, as golf clubs were closed in Wales and the Republic of Ireland at the time of the launch, and only open for three days in England, due to coronavirus restrictions.

Developed by The R&A and USGA, the WHS, for the first time, unites six handicapping bodies across the world under one standardised system.

The new system combines both the ‘Rules of Handicapping’ and the course rating system and is designed to attract more players to the game, whilst in theory making handicapping easier to understand and giving players the opportunity to use their ‘Handicap Index’ on any golf course across the globe.

It is comfortably the biggest change to handicapping in more than a century.

Every club golfer is affected by changes which mean that, when it is permissible, they can play any course in the world with the correct handicap allowance for their playing ability.

Under the new system the best eight scores from a player’s last 20 competitive rounds provides the basis of their handicap index. Separately, the difficulty of golf courses for scratch and ‘bogey’ golfers has been assessed.

This gives each course a gender specific rating, known as ‘slope index’ for each set of tees. Multiplying the handicap index by the course rating and dividing by a base measurement of 113 creates a playing handicap.

It is specific to that player on that course, wherever in the world it is located.

Further complexities abound, depending on the format that is being played (for example 95 percent of the calculated handicap for medal stroke play) but in practice this should be clearly indicated by the host clubs and competition organisers.

Furthermore, the centralised administration of the new system has drawn criticism because of concerns over data distribution.

National federations, rather than individual clubs, act as ‘calculation hubs’ with England Golf assuming responsibility for the country’s nearly 2,000 clubs. It is a similar story in Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Some of the comments online so far suggest there has been a mixed response to its introduction.

“The WHS is a much better system overall. It’ll take something getting used to and people hate change. Especially golfers. But now playing in different countries or competing players from other parts of the world will be on the same page. Great for the game,” wrote one golfer.

Another supporter wrote: “I think this is going to have some teething problems but in the long run it’s going to make competitions much fairer and stop bandits winning all the time!”

However, comments in opposition to the new system included: “Complete waste of time. Most amateur golfers play in competitions solely at their own club having different handicaps elsewhere isn’t really necessary in my opinion.”

“What’s the point of this WHS? What a load of rubbish and a complete mess this is! I’ve been cut by 1.6 shots when I rarely shoot under my handicap as it is,” stated another.

According to the BBC, teething problems were expected.

“It really is a seismic change,” said England Gold chief executive Jeremy Tomlinson. “A huge change is that we are going to be moving from 1800 calculation hubs, which is circa the number of clubs in England, to one calculation hub now.”

The BBC states that some clubs have been reluctant to divulge information, while others have provided only generic email addresses rather than one specific to members.

If no acceptable email address is submitted, players will be denied a handicap. This is a potential problem for older golfers and young juniors who might not use the internet.

“Quite simply, we asked for unique forms of identity, an email address and a date of birth,” Tomlinson said.

“We asked for those so that we can identify 640,000 people and make sure we start off with the best possible foundation platform to ensure their golf identity really is theirs.”

Tomlinson says England Golf has already unearthed “tens of thousands of inaccuracies” during the transition period and have complied with all legal requirements regarding data protection.

“Far from it being a data grab, it’s all about identifying golfers to make sure their handicap data truly is theirs so we start the platform with the highest level of integrity,” he said.

Tomlinson is calling for patience during the transition period. “There have been problems with purifying databases,” he admitted.

“There have been issues with regards to connectivity, with regards to software. There are many queries coming through right now, so I’m just going to be real about this.

“There are going to be teething problems, but I do think we are going to get through it.”

The England Golf boss insists this uniform rating of golfers’ abilities will create a fairer game. “There won’t be little idiosyncrasies of golf clubs with their own processes, there will be one way of doing things,” Tomlinson said.

“One central calculation hub, one central library with one algorithm to calculate people’s handicaps.

“We believe it will offer a new level of integrity that people can really trust but also a wonderful way in which people can cross countries and across the world and have the ability to apply their handicap to whatever golf course they play.”

England Golf’s head of handicapping and course rating, Gemma Hunter, said: “We are confident that the new WHS will be a success throughout the country. The new system allows golfers to obtain and maintain a handicap index based on their current playing ability. In addition, it gives them the opportunity to experience even more ways to submit a score for handicap purposes and be able to play against any fellow golfer on an equitable basis and on any course around the world.”

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 5, 2020 13:44
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30 Comments

  1. DickieA November 19, 18:28

    I’ve played around 15 – 20 qualifying competitions per year for the past 10 years and my handicap has fluctuated from 10 – 12. I was off 11.3 four weeks ago. My new world handicap? 5.6. Laughable.

    Reply to this comment
  2. S Watson November 16, 19:25

    Hi

    thats a bit of an understatement, we have loads of problems at our club, we reckon 50% have the wrong Handicap Index, for loads of different reasons. They should have deferred the go live date then backed out the original migration of handicaps and fixed all the problems before doing a fresh migration.
    Its an absolute mess.

    I dont see this advertised anywhere?

    Reply to this comment
    • Chrisgeek November 23, 15:26

      I thought the handicap index is based on your best 8 adjusted gross scores in your last 20. I know players whose index is an average from 4 scores or 7 scores, even though they gave more than 8 available. Has anyone else seen this?

      Reply to this comment
  3. jobey November 13, 09:33

    i have dropped from 19 to 12. no point in playing individual comps probably not much help in team games now bit harsh maybe put cards in when i play social games might adjust fairer

    Reply to this comment
  4. Alan confused November 10, 10:34

    Unlike other comments I do play other courses frequently either in opens or competitively against friends at their own clubs. The other major issue is that the slope ratings are confusing to say the least. My course is 134, shortish par 71 , no water, straightforward parkland course. The Oxfordshire off the pro tees is 132??! The whites are 127, I lose a shot compared to my own course. All sorted money well spent!

    Reply to this comment
    • Nickoss November 11, 23:18

      I’m sorry England Golf WHS shouldn’t have gone live. Under the rules of golf a play must submit a correct
      handicap, If I enter the one I have now I would be DQ’ed. This is inaccessible, England Golf has complained that they have had no communication of government over lockdown 2 ( kettle black). It’s a good thing we can’t play this give England Golf 4 weeks to sort it out. Would be nice if they communicated when they expect the system will produce correct and accurate handicap indexes.

      Reply to this comment
  5. SwilkenBurn November 9, 20:22

    Absolute shambles before WHS and absolute shambles after, think of all that wasted money and what could have been done with it.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Bunster November 7, 19:25

    Oh-no, so every time someone asks what my h’cap is I have to say, ‘do you mean my H’cap Index or course h’cap.

    I must agree with an earlier post, most club golfers play almost exclusively comps at their home club. If I play another course its usually with a society or just mates. Again, most societies have their own system of h’cap.

    The VAR of golf is sadly funny but true.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Robert November 7, 12:08

    WHS stands for World Handicap Shambles. My handicap inexplicably went up. Then, despite not having played in the meantime, it went back down again without any warning. And as for making golf more accessible by making handicaps easier to understand, what a joke! There are numerous different percentages to multiply by depending upon the type of competition. We will rarely actually play off our new handicap even adjusted for slope and course. How many ordinary golfers are going to remember all these?

    Reply to this comment
    • Dandy November 26, 11:38

      I totally agree what a nightmare I’m 72 and am quiete sane but I’m completely lost as to understanding the new system under the old system my handicap was 14 I don’t play anywhere near that but my new handicap is 13
      I think they should think again , or explain the new system in lay mens terms so we mere mortals can understand it

      Reply to this comment
  8. Smithza November 7, 10:57

    As a club handicap secretary I can emphasise with these comments, I was cut from 3.8 to .6 quite laughable really. As for. Making the game more equitable, al it has done is punish the genuine golfers and benefit those cheats in the game. As for data transfer the wrong courses were used, when I questioned this the response was it must have been an input error,, not the case, the course used was a winter course not in use through the summer with a par 68 against our summer course par 72. This alone has had a major impact on the new handicap indices. Hopefully with the lock down WHS will get their act together.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Jaz November 6, 18:54

    Golf clubs already have handicap conveners and committees. Just watch out over the next couple of years, Scotland golf have already tried to double our affiliation fees but were voted down by the golf clubs. This is a money making quango for all these supposed Federation’s and will end up driving a lot of people from the game. It might not cost you at the moment but just wait and see. They don’t do anything that your own golf club can’t do for you.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Dave M November 6, 14:58

    Still waiting for my verification code so now have no handicap.

    Reply to this comment
    • Paddy November 7, 01:26

      England Golf’s handling of the WHS is Trumpesque in its absurdity.
      The system itself is great and works but to deny Club Members a handicap on the pretext of needing an email and DOB to verify “the integrity of the system”, is a joke.
      This suggests that Golf Clubs up and down the land don’t know who their members are and furthermore they have not administered the CONGU rules correctly.
      The money collected by the Clubs and Unions pay for the Salaries of the bureaucracy that have failed them so badly.
      Heads must roll!

      Reply to this comment
  11. Statto November 6, 13:37

    What about Society Golf? I am not a club member and feel completely overlooked by the changes. Would appear that I will not benefit from the Course and Slope Index that has been introduced. Can anyone shed any light on how players like me will be treated under the new rules?

    Reply to this comment
  12. alab b November 6, 11:46

    hi i am 75 years old ,due to injures i have not played to my handicap for years consequently my handicap has gone fron 12 to 17 in two years, i have recently joined a new club as my old club closed, i play of 17 for a reason ,i cant play to my handicap, but i have been cut to 11.6 how on earth can this be right.i feel like packing up. all of my friends have been cut a average of 5 points.

    Reply to this comment
  13. alab b November 6, 11:45

    hi i am 75 years old ,due to injures i have not played to my handicap for years consequently my handicap has gone fron 12 to 17 in two years, i have recently joined a new club as my old club closed, i play of 17 for a reason ,i cant play to my handicap, but i have been cut to 11.6 how on earth can this be right.i feel like packing up. all of my friends have been cut a average of 5 points.

    Reply to this comment
    • GTD22 November 6, 18:47

      The new handicap system will only be based from your last 20 rounds. If you put some more supplementary cards in, it will ‘delete’ the older (possibly lower scoring) cards from the back end of the most recent 20 scores, from which your new index is based. It wouldn’t take too long to get your handicap where it should be.

      Reply to this comment
  14. Smiler November 6, 10:24

    We’ve got lots of issues at our club, the most severe being (1) wrong adjusted scores where players have incomplete holes, (2) wrong slope off the yellows, (3) best 8 not selected correctly as gross differential scores off yellows are wrong. There are some minor errors too including (4) shows our club in the wrong county (5) the best 8 icon is next to the gross score but should be next to the differentials and (6) the handicap index calculated after the most recent round is not shown next to that round, it’s always one round behind?

    Reply to this comment
    • Golfgirl November 6, 16:04

      I’ll give it next year, I’ve not had s good season this year, never the less it’s dropped me 3 shots. With my lowest handicap index bring a shot lower. Don’t believe I should be off this handicap, also our club had a provisional slope rating, which is 1 lower than the male white tees. Having seen most of the guys play off these tees, it’s rubbish. One year maybe they’ll get our slope rating right, otherwise I’m gone I’m not paying a membership fee to feel unhappy and struggle to play against other golfers

      Reply to this comment
  15. Freddie November 6, 10:14

    I’m 73 years old playing off 5.3 ( which I haven’t played to in 12 months or more) and now WHS says 3.3. No point in playing in any competitions. It’s taking the edge off playing golf now.

    Reply to this comment
    • GTD22 November 6, 18:51

      Have you worked out how many shots you will receive on your course based on your home course slope rating? If it is a harder than average course, you may still end up with the same amount of shots you used to. People I know have had their handicap index cut, but still ended up with an extra shot from before the new system came in to play due to slope ratings

      Reply to this comment
    • Smithza November 7, 10:56

      As a club handicap secretary I can emphasise with these comments, I was cut from 3.8 to .6 quite laughable really. As for. Making the game more equitable, al it has done is punish the genuine golfers and benefit those cheats in the game. As for data transfer the wrong courses were used, when I questioned this the response was it must have been an input error,, not the case, the course used was a winter course not in use through the summer with a par 68 against our summer course par 72. This alone has had a major impact on the new handicap indices. Hopefully with the lock down WHS will get their act together.

      Reply to this comment
  16. Jungle jim November 6, 09:50

    English golf as not measured our course yet how many more courses have not been measured . How do we get a slip rating

    Reply to this comment
  17. John.N November 6, 09:04

    Far from the WHS being more inclusive for everyone I am a member of one of the smaller golf unions(Bedfordshire). It is still elitist as all of the established courses have been assessed, the newer courses have been overlooked. This has been in the planning stage for long enough. I wonder how the larger counties have coped. If this is the way the EGU envisaged it working we might as well opt out.

    Reply to this comment
    • Slim November 6, 12:25

      As a 75 year old I was off 13 handicap I as Freddy haven’t played to my handicap for some time , find myself on 10-5.
      Knocking 2-5 off it seems very unfair to me

      Reply to this comment
  18. Boo Boo November 6, 07:20

    The VAR of golf….

    Reply to this comment
  19. Graham D November 5, 19:40

    At least they have now got 4 weeks to sort it out for everyone……….in England that is!!

    Reply to this comment
    • Goy November 6, 07:34

      Frustrating, I keep asking for password link, England Golf does not reply…only to ask me for password…

      Reply to this comment
    • RPM November 6, 15:31

      Remember that the number is not your handicap it is your Handicap Index. You need to apply the slope index to get your Course Handicap ie how many strokes you are going to get.

      Reply to this comment
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