WHS Rules of Handicapping Changes

Changes to the WHS Rules of Handicapping

As many will be aware, the R&A and USGA have recently made some changes to the Rules of Handicapping that become effective on 1st April.  Those most likely to affect us are explained here:

Course Handicap Calculation

The governing bodies have recognised that the method of calculating your Course Handicap did not make it clear what score was actually required to ‘play to handicap’.  To rectify this, they have added an additional element to the calculation – COURSE RATING minus PAR – the result of which is that every time you submit a card for handicap a nett score of level par or 36 points will be playing to your Course Handicap.  The effect of this change will depend on the difference between the Course Rating and Par, and can be seen in the following example for a male golfer with a 12.4 Handicap Index, based on the various tee-sets here at St Austell:

As a general rule, when the Course Rating is higher than Par your Course Handicap will be higher than currently, and when the Course Rating is lower than Par your Course Handicap will also be lower.  However, when the differences are small, as is the case with the yellow tee-set, the change may not equate to a full stroke.

Playing Handicap Calculation

Currently, your Course Handicap is calculated and rounded to the nearest whole number, from which your Playing Handicap is then calculated and also rounded to the nearest whole number, as shown below:

From 1st April the rounding will only take place at the end of the calculation, so the same golfer will now see their Playing Handicap thus:

What do these changes mean to you?

In theory, very little.  Your Course Handicap may be greater, or smaller, than at present depending on the course and tee-set you play.  The Slope Panels by the 1st tee will be out of date and, when necessary, you will need to obtain your Course Handicap from the IG or MYEG app.  A Playing Handicap is only used in competition play so, generally, will be shown on the scorecard prepared for you by the Competition Administrator.  There will be times when this is not the case, for example, when playing in the Midweek Stableford, when the advice is always to play from your Course Handicap and let the computer work out the final points and your position in the competition.  Alternatively, try out the PACE scoring facility on the IG app.  This will not only show your Course and Playing Handicaps, but will also allow you to input your score hole by hole whilst on the course, thereby saving time when you get in.

Acceptable Scores from Betterball Formats

Currently, only scores from certain singles formats of play are returned to WHS for Handicap Index calculation within GB&I.  From 1st April, scores from fourball competitions (stroke-play, stableford or par/bogey) will be acceptable for handicap purposes.  These additional formats of play will allow more scores to be returned, but come with some specific criteria:

  • Scores from competition play only, on a course that meets the criteria for acceptable scores,
  • The pair must have scored at least 6-under par, 42 points, or be 6-up in a bogey,
  • A player must have returned a score on a minimum of 9-holes.

If these criteria have been met, the golfer will have an upscaling value added for their blank holes based upon their playing partner’s score.  If the player’s final total equates to 36 points/level par or better, a Score Differential will be calculated and added to the player’s handicap record.  The entire process will take place in the background with no extra work required from either the player or the administrator.

Betterball Matchplay – Stroke Calculations

The method of calculating strokes given/received in betterball matchplay is reverting to the way it was pre-WHS.  Players will calculate their Course Handicaps and will receive 90% of the difference between their Course Handicap and that of the low player.

There were a few other changes announced, but these do not directly impact on the individual golfer but, if you want to know more, follow this link to England Golf’s 2024 Player Reference Guide:

2024 Player Reference Guide on the Rules of Handicapping (englandgolf.org)

Terms of Competition

To take account of the various changes to payment for competitions, registration and the Rules of Handicapping our General Terms of Competition have been updated for 2024.  A full copy of these can be found by following the link below:

2024 General Terms of Competition

Simon Harper
Competition Secretary