Golfers Give the World Handicap System a Thumbs Up

By: | Thu 29 Oct 2020 | Comments


In September 2020, Golfshake surveyed 1,700 golfers on a variety of issues surrounding the World Handicap System, leading to a series of articles. Now, completing that analysis, Golfshake's Derek Clements explains why a significant number have given the new process an endorsing thumbs up.


ACCORDING to the governing bodies, one of the key reasons for introducing the World Handicap System is to help grow the game and make it more enjoyable for everybody who plays.

While it is undoubtedly true to say that many of you who responded to our survey on the WHS had reservations, lots of you believe it will be good for golf. As one of you pointed out, a five handicap at a course such as Woburn is very different from a five handicap at a local municipal. The course slope system that goes hand in hand with the WHS means that will no longer be the case. And that can only be a good thing.

England Golf has now produced a toolkit designed to explain how it is all going to work, and the evidence is that the message is now being spread. Handicaps should more accurately reflect a golfer’s true ability and the slope system will mean that you can adapt your handicap to the difficulty of the course you are playing.

So what do you reckon? We asked if the WHS was good for golf. Happily, many of you believe we are heading in the right direction.

"My new transitional handicap index is 4.5 - that makes me 5 at my home club - and 11 off the back tees at Wentworth! I don't know how people can say nothing needed to change. The World Handicap System is much fairer, especially when the situation is reversed."

And if the WHS achieves nothing else, this is what it was set up for - to allow golfers to be competitive at every course they play, regardless of the degree of difficulty.

“The new system is supposed to be more representative of your ability, whereas with the old system people only played to their handicap in the summer and at their best golf, for me that’s annoying as I wanted handicap cuts regardless."

"If it encourages more young people to play it will help promote the game."

“It has the potential to offer more competition opportunities to people disadvantaged by age or physical limitations."

“Some of the snobbish comments I have seen on forums regarding this help me to understand why golf is struggling.”

"For people who only play at their local club it's not of much value, but for those who play at different courses, or move countries or go abroad on vacation then it’s great."

"Handicaps are important but not as important as simplifying the rules, speeding up the game and making it inclusive and welcoming to all.”

Golfers Are Ready for the WHS

Thankfully, most of the anecdotal evidence suggests that people who returned to the game this year, or decided to take it up, were warmly received by the clubs they joined. And this means that when the time comes to renew their subscriptions next year they are likely to take up the option.

"I agree with the principle of a universal system althoughI am unlikely to play abroad."

"I only feel this will be beneficial within the UK if every golf club makes you put every round of golf into the computer.”

A few of you make this point although how on earth that could possibly be policed is difficult to work out - and, when all is said and done, many of us will still just want to go out and knock the ball around with our mates in a friendly four-ball.

"A few times a year I play with family and friends from other European countries or the US. Handicaps have always been an issue for these games so looking forward to accurate comparisons."

"A global system is essential."

"Anything that enables all people playing golf to be able to enter competitions and to play against other people on different courses is a good idea."

"Anything that helps to create a level playing field for handicaps relating to society golfers, competition bandits, making it easier to get a realistic handicap, can't be a bad thing. I'm sure that there will be teething problems, but this is going in the right direction."

"Anything that promotes the game positively is a good thing."

"At least you have a handicap wherever you play in the world. The problem will be if you play different courses on a golf trip. Would you have to change your handicap potentially after each round?"

"Current handicap is based on best round and rarely achievable. Players can hopefully play to new handicap more often.”

This is a common complaint about the existing system, with most club golfers saying that they simply cannot play to their handicaps. The new system should change that once and for all.

"Different courses have different difficulty levels. Varying your own handicap for each course makes the game more fair for all."

"Does not matter where in the world you go - every golfer is playing off a WGH, which is good for golf.”

Precisely. If you travel to the USA, Australia, Spain or anywhere else, you will now have a handicap that ’travels’ with you and can be adapted to the course you are about to play.

“Handicaps will be more reflective of one's game, which is a good thing."

"Golf is a game where fairness is very important. The WHS should help this."

"Good to have the same system throughout the world, as long as it is simple and fair.”

"Greater benefit for good rounds rather than only really good rounds, witout the pressure of a bad round."

“I have experienced issues of moving to different places and clubs and how it can influence handicap so something that helps smooth this out is good. Reading some of the factors that are and are not included in slope rating makes me wonder how much of an advancement this will be."

"I am a member of a club in South Africa, which is already on the WHS. in my view, as all cards must be submitted, it is a fairer view of your current playing capability. It’s coming, so embrace it - don’t fear it.”

We have had several responses from people living in countries where the WHS is already up and running - and the good news is that everybody seems to believe it is a vast improvement on the current system. And it is fairer too!

"I feel the new system will encourage more people to take up golf."

"I have used this system and it is much fairer, better and more reflective of a golfer's true abilities."

"I know that many golfers are hostile to the changes saying if people cannot obtain a 28 handicap theyshould try harder. I have been playing for more than 10 years and have had countless lessons. I can par the occasional hole but often I make silly mistakes and typically go round in over 130. A system that allows people like me, who are genuinely trying their hardest and who understand etiquette and won't spoil it for others, to compete with a realistic chance to win has to be a good thing.”

This is precisely the sort of golfer who should benefit from the new system - if his or her fellow golfers allow it. No matter how hard some people try, they find it extremely difficult to improve. And not everybody has the time to devote to lessons - or can afford to do so. And many just don’t want to improve. 

"I love the fact that it's applicable to any course in the world."

"I play at a relatively short course but when I go to longer courses I struggle to play to my handicap so this should make things better and fairer for all golfers with handicaps.”

A great point, well made.

"It will make it a more level playing field when you play a harder course."

"It aligns us with everyone else. People will be able to use scores from every round they play to count to their handicap, so it will be a more accurate reflection of their ability."

"It currently takes far too long for a handicap to go up. You need to have 25/30 bad rounds successively to get handicap back up to what you scored in one good round and that can’t be fair or right.”

This is a common complaint among club golfers. And the new system will address it.

"I like playing in different countries and different standard of club, so getting a few extra shots for tough tracks would be great."

"Living in the Netherlands I use an online system and it does all the calculations for you. Your new handicap is immediately updated once you enter your score."

"Not taking account of different courses was always a bit strange. A five-handicap at Woburn is very different to a five at a local municipal."

"The fact that your handicap can be used worldwide is a fantastic step forward. I also like the fact that handicap is calculated on eight from 20 rounds. So you can have a bad round without adversely affecting your handicap. Finally, the limits on extreme handicap changes is another very positive step."

"The slope rating makes sense. The rest is fairly irrelevant. As long as everyone plays to the same system any handicap system will work. WHS calculation of handicap is a throwback to what I worked under as a single figure handicap player in the 1970s so no issue with it."

“It will make comparisons between golfers at different clubs fairer. I play at a course which has been rated as the most difficult in the county. For the first time I will be able to compare my handicap against those who have their handicap at easier courses.”

And that is another key aim of the system. We all play at different courses, with varying degrees of difficulty. We should now be able to play on level terms.

“If someone has a handicap of around 28 they should feel quite proud of that. My other sport, tennis, is full of people enjoying the game who are quite pleased if they get a first serve in, and we need more of that spirit in golf! As for competition play, bandits will always be bandits. The handicap system is an endearing part of golf culture. In any other sport the best player usually wins, in golf it's all about losing while really winning and vice versa. How very British."

So there you have it. All in all, a thumbs up for the WHS. It is here to stay. We should embrace it.


Related Content

Golfers Just Want a Handicap System That is Fair

World Handicap System - A Step Forward Or Cause For Confusion

The World Handicap System - Your Questions Answered

Are You Ready For The World Handicap System

The World Handicap System - All You Need to Know


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