World Handicapping System


The way that handicaps for golfers around the world are calculated has been transformed by a new system developed by The R&A and the USGA. A number of countries round the world started using the new system on 1st January 2020 and it will come into force in Great Britain and Ireland on 2nd November 2020.

Features of the World Handicap System (WHS) include:

  • A consistent handicap that is portable from course to course and country to country through worldwide use of a modified version of the Course and Slope Rating System that has been used in the USA and much of Europe for many years.
  • An average-based calculation of a handicap, taken from the best eight out of the last 20 scores but with a safety mechanism to ensure that a player's handicap cannot increase by more than 5 shots during a 12 month period.
  • A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions might have on a player’s performance each day. 
  • Handicap revisions processed on the day of playing, even if the competition results have not been processed.
  • A limit of Net Double Bogey on the maximum score for a hole (for handicapping purposes only)  
  • A maximum handicap limit of 54, regardless of gender

Click for further information on the R&A website and these FAQ's from the England Golf Website


A course assessment was done at The Leicestershire in April 2018 to establish the Course Rating and Slope Rating from each set of tees.

Course Rating replaces Standard Scratch (SSS) in the new system and represents the score that a scratch golfer is expected to achieve on the course.  When the WHS comes into effect the Course Ratings will be to the nearest 0.1.

Slope Rating represents the relative difficulty of a course from a specific set of tees for a 'bogey golfer' compared to a 'scratch' golfer.  A course with many hazards, long carries and thick rough will have a higher slope rating because these features are more of a challenge to bogey golfers. A golfer's handicap for a specific course is determined by multiplying the player's Handicap Index by the ratio of the course Slope Rating divided by the 'neutral' slope of 113.

There will be conversion tables available at each golf club, so the good news is that you won't need to do the calculation yourself !!!