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Newsletter January 2020

When I began playing golf in 1958, changes in golfers' handicaps were determined by our club pro so all members had an equal playing field.  He knew all the members' playing abilities and was known to cut a handicap in the middle of a tournament if he thought their score wasn't indicative of their handicap.  

Times have changed since the advent of computers, and after decades of input, on January 6, 2020 the golf World Handicap System (WHS) will go into effect.  

Currently over 15 million golfers in more than 80 countries have a handicap as an indicator of their potential skill level. The new modernized World Handicap System is designed to bring the game of golf under a single set of Rules for handicapping and provide a more consistent measure of players' ability in the different golfing regions of the world.

The WHS system was formulated from consultations with the existing handicapping authorities around the world; Golf Australia, the Council of National Golf Unions in Great Britain and Ireland, the European Golf Association, the South African Golf Association, the Argentine Golf Association, the USGA, the Japan Golf Association and Golf Canada.  

The World Handicap System has been created to ostensibly allow golfers of different abilities to compete fairly in any format, on any course, anywhere in the world. The new system focuses on three key goals:

1.    To encourage as many golfers as possible to obtain and maintain a Handicap Index.

2.    To enable golfers of differing abilities, genders and nationalities to transport their Handicap index to any course around the world and compete on a fair basis.

3.    To indicate with sufficient accuracy the score a golfer is reasonably capable of achieving on any course around the world, playing under normal conditions.

For your information, here are the changes that will go into effect in 2020.

  • The new WHS system will be based more on your good scores by averaging your eight (8) best scores out of your most recent 20 scores. This is a change from the old system that used 10 out of 20 scores. Even though you may not be playing golf now your handicap can change up to one stroke.
  • For beginners the maximum allowable Handicap Index has been raised to 54.0 for both men and women. By moving the handicap maximum up, the USGA is encouraging more golfers to obtain a handicap so they can measure their progress and enjoy the game with their friends.
  • With the new system, handicaps will be revised daily instead of twice a month. The Handicap Index will be revised the night of a score posted and a new Handicap Index will be available the following day. For the system to work accurately, scores need to be posted as soon as possible after the completion of your round, and before midnight on the day of play.
  • The new WHS will not calculate or display 9-hole Handicap Indexes. All golfers in the system will have an 18-hole Handicap Index. One-half of an 18-hole index should be used when calculating a 9-hole Course Handicap. However, all 9-hole scores played are to be posted and held in the system until combined with a second nine-hole score to make up a combined 18-hole score.
  • A new feature included in your Handicap Index is called the Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC) which determines whether the playing conditions on the day you played differ from normal conditions so that an adjustment is needed to compensate. It is calculated each day at midnight for each golf course.
  • A new term, Low Handicap Index will be included within the Rules of Handicapping and will be made visible to you. It is established when you have at least 20 acceptable scores. TheLow Handicap Indexisthe lowest Handicap Indexvalue that you have had in the last 24 revisions/12 months. This value will serve as the baseline for the soft cap and hard cap procedures which will limit extreme increases or decreases of your Handicap Index. A soft cap is applied to reduce the value of any increase over 3 strokes by 50%.A hard cap is applied when a player has reached a maximum of 5 strokes above their Low Handicap Index.When special circumstances exist, such as injury, the Handicap Committee will have the ability to override the soft cap or hard cap.
  • Another safeguard is the Exceptional Score Reduction (ESR).If a player shoots an exceptional score, their handicap will be automatically adjusted one or two strokes depending on their score according to the adjustment table. The ESR replaces the old system of Reduced Handicaps (R) and Tournament Scores (T).
  • The Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) is no longer in effect. Everyone will calculate their maximum hole score in the same way. Your maximum hole score is calculated by adding the par of the hole + 2 strokes (double bogey) + your handicap strokes on that hole.  

USGA Executive Director/CEO Mike Davis said, "One wonderful aspect of golf that separates it from other sports is the opportunity for players of differing abilities to play on an equitable basis through handicapping. With one global system, golf courses will be rated and handicaps calculated in a consistent manner everywhere in the world. Removing borders to provide an easy way for all to play together is great for the game and golfers everywhere."

For further clarification on the new WHS system link on to https://www.usga.org/handicapping.html


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