New World Handicap System Implemented in January 2020

Beginning in January 2020, the USGA and The R&A will implement changes to the handicap system, providing a more consistent measure of a player’s ability. There have been six different handicap systems used around the world so the new World Handicap System (WHS) was developed to enable golfers of different ability to play and compete in a fair and equitable basis around the world. What does this mean for you? JC Golf explains how the new WHS will impact your handicap.


How Will The World Handicap System Impact My Handicap?

  1. Your Handicap Index may change.

    Your new Handicap Index will be more responsive to good scores by averaging your eight best scores out of your most recent 20 (currently it’s 10 out of 20 with a .96 multiplier). In most cases, it will change less than one stroke. So, if you notice that your Handicap Index is different this month despite not having played, this is why!

  2. Your Course Handicap will vary more from tee to tee.

    Slope Rating, par and now Course Rating are used to determine your Course Handicap, which represents the number of strokes you’ll need to play to par. Your Course Handicap will vary more from tee to tee than it did in the past. For you to play to your handicap, your target score for the day will be par plus Course Handicap.

  3. Pick-ups encouraged for a Net Double Bogey.

    If you have struggled and reached your maximum hole score for handicap purposes, you are encouraged to pick up and claim a Net Double Bogey. Net Double Bogey = Double Bogey + any handicap strokes received on a hole. If you were to pick up on a hole before reaching Net Double Bogey, then you would record or Most Likely Score as long as it does not exceed your Net Double Bogey limit.

  4. Inclement weather will be accounted for in Playing Conditions Calculation.

    Because golf is an outdoor game, a Playing Conditions Calculation will account for playing conditions (weather or course setup) and adjust players’ Score Differentials to better reflect their actual performance. This calculation is driven by scores posted at a golf course on a given day. Any adjustment will be clearly identified in the player’s scoring record for transparency.

  5. Your scores will be updated daily.

    Handicap Index will update daily so each time you submit a score, it will be factored into the calculation of your Handicap Index for use the very next day. If you submit your scores the day you play, you ensure that your Handicap Index will be a responsive and up-to-date indicator of your ability.

  6. Safeguards included ensuring the integrity of a player’s Handicap Index.

    A Soft Cap, Hard Cap and Exceptional Score Reduction are safeguards put into place to limit the extreme upward movement of a player’s Handicap Index. A club’s Handicap Committee will also have access to reporting tools that provide additional oversight and can protect a Competition field by modifying a player’s Playing Handicap before or between rounds when appropriate.

Reference: USGA (

For questions and more details about the Rules of Handicapping or registering for a Handicap Index, visit: