Below is a recap on the fundamentals of the WHS, to give you the info you need at the start of the 2021 playing season.
1 – Handicap Index
This is, effectively, your new handicap that will be used as the basis for determining how many shots you receive on a given course, playing a given format. It’s calculated from an average of the best eight of your last 20 returned scores. When a new score is submitted, the Handicap Index is automatically recalculated and updated at the end of the day’s play, ready for use the following day. Players new to golf or looking to obtain a first handicap will need to submit scorecards amounting to 54 holes.
From those, an initial Handicap Index will be provided. This will be altered when 20 scores have been submitted to deliver a fully developed Handicap Index. To prevent wild swings in handicap, the WHS provides caps – soft and hard – based on a player’s lowest Handicap Index in a one-year period. If a player’s handicap goes three shots above the low index, further rises are reduced by 50%. (Soft cap.) If a player’s handicap moves 5.0 strokes above the low index in a 12-month period, it cannot rise any further. (Hard cap.) Max handicap is 54 but that’s not quite the full story.
2 – Course Handicap
The Handicap Index, in conjunction with the difficulty of a course, gives a player their Course Handicap. This is how many shots you will actually receive playing any given course. This may vary depending on the tees you choose to play from. The difficulty of a course (off each teeing option) is calculated using Course Rating, Bogey Rating and Slope Rating – see below.
3 – Course Rating, Bogey Rating and Slope Rating
Course Rating is how many strokes a scratch golfer (someone with a Course Handicap of 0) should take on a course, off each sets of tees. Bogey Rating measures playing difficulty for a bogey golfer (someone with a handicap of roughly 20 for a man and 24 for a women). Knowing these two ratings allows WHS to determine the difficulty of the course and to produce a Slope Rating for each set of tees. Slope Rating is calculated by subtracting Course Rating from Bogey Rating and multiplying by 5.381 for men and 4.240 for women. Minimum Slope Rating is 55 for the easiest course up to 155 for the hardest courses. At a course where all players compete from their Handicap Index, Slope Rating is 113. The Course Handicap calculation is: Slope Rating divided by 113, multiplied by Handicap Index.
4 – General Play is important but optional
In order for the new system to be effective, it’s important that players record as many scores as possible for handicap calculations, General Play as well as competition. That way, Handicap Index is as representative as possible. A General Play score is a pre-registered social score from a course and tee that has a Course and Slope Rating for your gender, played to singles medal, Stableford, Par or Bogey format.
But not every round needs to be counting. You have to select to pre-register before teeing off if you want it to count. If you haven’t pre-registered, a score cannot be submitted.
5 – Conditions can still make a difference
The system includes a “Playing Conditions Calculation” that looks at how all players who have entered a score on a course have performed on that day, off all tees, compared to their expected performance. At the end of each day’s play a Playing Conditions Calculation will be made by the system.
6 – You don’t need to carry a calculator with you
Although, on paper the system looks rather complicated with various calculations throughout; in reality, the golfer needn’t feel overwhelmed.
The system will carry out the calculations for you. All you need to do is enter a competition or pre-register for General Play on a particular course, noting which tees you’re playing on, enter your scores, confirm and have them confirmed by a playing partner and submit – The system will update accordingly with any changes made ready for golf the following day.
16 Important Golf Scorecard Rules To Remember
1. Recording the correct handicap on the card is solely your responsibility as the player.
2. If you fail to record your handicap, or play off a handicap higher than that to which you are entitled (and this affects the number of strokes received), you will be disqualified from the handicap element of a strokeplay competition, though your score will still stand in any concurrent scratch competition.
3. If you record too low a handicap on your card, your net score will stand based on that handicap.
4. At the end of the round, all you are signing for is your gross score on each hole.
5. You do not have to add your scores up, record your net score, or allocate Stableford points.
6. Most golfers do mark such things on their cards (and rightly so), but you cannot be penalised for getting the maths, the net score or the Stableford points wrong.
7. Should you sign for a gross score on a hole lower than that actually taken, unfortunately you will be disqualified.
8. Should you sign for a higher score on a hole than that taken, the higher score stands, but you will not be disqualified.
9. Contrary to what some believe, you do not need to initial mistakes or corrections on the scorecard.
10. The scorecard must be signed by you and your marker (or markers if another person has had to take over) and returned as soon as possible on completion of the round.
11. Sometimes, this will be to a recorders’ area, but often simply to a box in the clubhouse or changing room.
12. Once it has been returned, no alterations can then be made to the scorecard.
13. If one or both of the required signatures are missing, you will be disqualified under Rule 6-6b.
14. Returning the card “as soon as possible” doesn’t mean immediately, nor does it mean hours later. You might have a long trek to the area where it is to be returned if, for example, you have started on a tee some way from the clubhouse.
15. And even if computerised scoring is in operation, it is what is recorded on the physical scorecard that is all-important, rather than what might be input in error into a computer.
16. Finally if the scorecards are prepared for you, do make sure you swap before you mark and sign.