What the new 'World Handicap System' means for you

USGA
USGA.org
A new 'World Handicap System' is coming in 2020. It will make it easier than ever for golfers to establish and maintain a handicap.
By T.J. Auclair
PGA.com
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Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 | 10:33 a.m.

The USGA and the R&A announced on Tuesday that a new "World Handicap System" (WHS) will be implemented in 2020.
 
So what does it mean to you?
 
As it stands now, there are six different handicap systems used around the world. In 2020 -- just like the single set of playing Rules, a single set of equipment Rules and a single set of Rules of Amateur Status overseen by the USGA and The R&A -- there will be a single handicap system.
 
 
The move to one system will allow golfers of different playing abilities to compete on a level playing field in any format and on any course anywhere in the world. It is also designed to be as accessible and inclusive as possible, while still providing golfers with the portability, accuracy and consistency they expect, according to the USGA.
 
Under the current handicap system, golfers were required to enter a minimum of 90 holes (or five, 18-hole rounds) worth of scores to establish a handicap. The new system has lowered that number to 54 holes and it can be any combination of 18 or nine-hole scores. 
 
Right now, the current max-handicap is 36.4 for men and 40.4 for women. In the new system, the max handicap will be 54 for men and women. 
 
Rather than taking the best 10 scores in your last 20 rounds to compute your handicap the way it is now, the WHS calls for taking an average of your eight best scores in your last 20 rounds. Your handicap will also be updated daily under the new system instead of twice per month, taking account of the course and weather conditions calculation. 
 
Also, a net-double bogey will be the maximum score for all golfers on any hole in the new system (for handicapping purposes only, of course). 
 
Ultimately, the goal of the WHS is to encourage and make it easier for more golfers to obtain and maintain a handicap. 
 

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.