World Handicap System
WHS – Keep it Simple Stupid
At some point during the past week I read a quote from someone in the golf press “The new handicap system isn’t rocket science, it’s much harder than that”. That may be the case, and indeed for some there is a need to understand. Fortunately for most of us we will continue to play the game and the technology provided will do the rest. Having said that I thought that I would try to simplify things and explain it in a way that I hope you can relate to. Most of the changes are changes in terminology so that is how I tried to get a grip of it. I may not be using the ideal comparisons, but it works for me.
“Standard Scratch” – the old term that indicates how many shots a scratch golfer could be expected to complete the course. This is now called “Course Rating”. There is an additional assessment done now called “Bogey Rating” which is the expected number of shots that a male golfer, about 20 handicap, would take to complete the course. This takes into account the course length, hazards, shape and speed of greens, ditches, out of bounds etc. the difference between Course and Bogey rating indicates how difficult the course is and that is converted into a measurement called “Slope Rating”. In my mind I see the average course has a Slope Rating of 113. Easier courses have a lower slope rating and more difficult courses a higher slope rating. That pretty much takes care of the golf course.
“Exact Playing Handicap” We are all familiar with that, the figure that is used to compare your ability to that of a scratch golfers and other players. That has now become your “Handicap Index”. That is probably the most important number to you, it is related to your golfing record and ability and no-one else. The calculation is a little more complex but is done for you. The system looks at your last 20 scores and identifies the best eight from those but not, as is currently the case, just your score against par. This system looks at your Handicap Index and adjusts it using the Slope Rating. To do that every course will have a chart that enables you to cross reference your Handicap Index to the appropriate Slope Rating of the course and specific set of tees that you are playing and then shows how many ‘shots’ against the card you have. This means that you are assessed equally on any course, difficult or easy. Playing in benign conditions or a howling gale will usually have an impact on scores. As is now the case the system will continue to assess this and adjust scores accordingly so again there will be consistency of measure which ever part of the country, or indeed world you are playing.
As you enter scores the most recent will replace the 20th score in your record. If the latest score does not replace one of your ‘best eight’ then it will make no difference to your Handicap Index.
There are mechanisms in place to prevent large drops or rises in handicaps but again all of that is done within the system and with an overview taken by the Handicap Committee.
I hope some of you find this useful and not too alarming. Remember just check your Course Handicap with the sheet and then just enjoy your golf.