World Handicap System 2020

The goal of the World Handicap System (WHS) is to allow all golfers to use the same handicap calculation across the world. There are currently 6 different worldwide golf governing bodies who use different handicap calculation methods:

  1. United States Golf Association USGA
  2. European Golf Association EGA
  3. Council of National Golf Unions CONGU
  4. South African Handicap System
  5. Golf Australia Handicap System
  6. Argentina Handicap System
Golf Australia
South African Golf Association

By the end of 2020 the goal is for all 6 golfing bodies to switch over to the World Handicap System. Some are trying to switch over to the new WHS before the end of 2020. CONGU have committed to switching to the WHS by November 2020.

The WHS will allow a golfer to calculate a:

  1. Player Handicap Index
  2. Player Course Handicap
  3. Playing Handicap
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Initial Handicap Calculation

The following steps allow a golfer to calculate their starting player handicap index. The maximum player handicap index for both men and women is 54.

  1. A total of 54 holes must be played which can be made up of any combination of 18-hole and 9-hole rounds of golf.
  2. Any holes where the net score is more than 2 over will be adjusted to the maximum of net 2 over par. For the initial handicap the maximum net par is 3 over par.
    1. Par = 4
    2. Net par = 7
    3. Max 2 over = 9
    4. Your hole score = 11
    5. Adjusted hole score = 9
  3. The handicap differential is then calculated for the submitted rounds.
    1. Score = 84
    2. Adjusted score = 84
    3. Course rating = 72.5
    4. Slope rating = 128
    5. Differential = ((Adjusted score – Course rating) * 113) / Slope rating
      1. ((84 – 72.5) * 113) / 128 = 10.1
  4. The average handicap differential is then used to calculate your handicap index.
    1. Rounds = 3
    2. Differentials
      1. 10.1
      2. 12.2
      3. 14.2
    3. Handicap index
      1. (10.1 + 12.2 + 14.2) / 3 = 12.2

Ongoing Handicap Calculation

The player handicap index will be calculated based on the average of the best 8 rounds from the most recent 20 submitted rounds of golf.

As with the initial handicap calculation, an adjusted gross score is calculated limiting the score on each hole to net 2 over par. For example, if you are playing a par 3 and your handicap index gives you 2 strokes on the hole the worst possible score is:

3 (par) + 2 (handicap allowance) + 2 (2 over par) = 7

If you score more than 7 on the hole your score will be adjusted to 7 before the handicap differential is calculated. This is very similar to the current Stableford format. The purpose is to keep your handicap nearer to your playing potential.

After every round of golf that you play your handicap index will be automatically recalculated and adjusted.

Exceptionally low scores will result in a player’s handicap index being reduced immediately by 1 or 2 strokes. An exceptionally low score is defined as a differential of 7 or more strokes under a player’s handicap index.

Particularly high scores are also taken into consideration and offset by using a 12-month low handicap index that is maintained for every player. If a newly calculated handicap index is significantly more than the 12-month low handicap index the new index is supressed to stop a player’s handicap index increasing by more than 5 strokes in a 12-month period.

Playing Handicap

Your handicap index along with other course information are used to calculate your playing handicap.

At the start of each round you will need to obtain the course rating and slope rating for the tees you are going to play. This information will normally be available near to the first tee.

You will then need to determine the format of play which will inform the handicap allowance that you will receive.

Additional Considerations

As CONGU have been using CSS, DSR in Australia and CBA in Europe, the World Handicap System will also take playing conditions into consideration. A Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC) will be performed daily on each course using 8 or more rounds from 18-hole or 9-hole rounds from golfers with a handicap index of 36 or less.

The more scores that you submit the more accurate your handicap index will be.

To improve the speed of play for yourself and others on the course it is recommended that you pick up your ball once you reach the maximum score for the hole.


Course rating
The course rating system measures the playing difficultly of a golf course for scratch players and bogey players under normal playing conditions. A qualified team will set the course rating for a golf course.

Slope rating
A golf course of standard playing difficulty has a slope rating of 113, and slope ratings range from a minimum of 55 (very easy) to a maximum of 155 (extremely difficult).

When will My Online Golf Club be switching over to the World Handicap System?

We will be switching over to the World Handicap System in line with the golfing bodies. We will also allow you to choose to use the new format before if you have access to the course and slope rating information for the course you are playing.


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