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The World Handicap System Continues to Divide Golfers

By: | Fri 14 Apr 2023

OH DEAR! The World Handicap System was introduced in Britain amid much fanfare more than two years ago. It was supposed to end the debate once and for all.

But many of you still have serious issues with it. In our recent annual Golfshake Survey it once again turned out to be a thorny subject for you.

I have been playing this game for more years than I care to remember. I have seen several systems come and go and I am here to tell you that the powers-that-be have yet to come up with a system that keeps everybody happy. 

Club golfers have always taken a “pick-and-choose” approach to the competitions they play in, and that hasn’t changed. My target has always been to get my handicap as low as I possibly can, but many club golfers prefer to “protect” their handicap in order that they remain competitive. Sadly, it is human nature.

There are many issues within this great game of ours that exercise your minds and this continues to be right up there as a serious bone of contention. It is also pretty obvious that many club golfers still don’t really understand the slope system.

The whole point of the WHS was that it was meant to make the game fairer, that you could go and play any golf course and adapt your handicap according to your ability and the relative difficulty of the course you are playing.

But it is abundantly clear that many of you still don’t believe that The R&A and USGA have got it right.

In theory, we are all meant to submit cards every time we play. It is obvious that is not happening.

World Handicap System

What Golfers Have Said

Here are just a few of your views on the subject…

"WHS system has drastically reduced the number of golfers participating in competitions.”

I am not sure that there is actually any evidence whatsoever for this remark.

"The World Handicap System has wrecked golf and open competitions, It is ridiculous -  should have left handicapping as it was.”

Isn’t it strange how we long for the return of a system that many of us complained about just as much as we do about the WHS?

"WHS is not working, the 95% rule is a nonsense, plus you can win a competition and your handicap can still go up, plus there are still too many cheats in club competitions."

"Definitely not sure on the merits of WHS as far as golf moving forward is concerned. What incentive is there to reduce your handicap?”

Surely the whole point of playing this game, apart from enjoying the social aspect, is precisely to try to reduce your handicap?

"I am not a fan of the new handicap system. Whilst I think the concept is sound I feel the volatility of the system needs to be managed better and they need to review the way the actual handicap is assessed."

"Still struggling to fully understand the new World Handicap System.”

This a view that I happen to know is shared by a lot of golfers, myself included. It is unnecessarily complicated.

"World Handicap System is ruining golf for low handicap golfers.”

Is it? I play off seven, which most people would regard as being a pretty low handicap. It hasn’t ruined the game for me. It is still me against an 18-hole layout. If I drop seven shots to par then I am playing to my handicap.

"New handicap system is a complete joke. Too many are manipulating their handicap. Some have three shots per hole. Must be changed soon or will ruin golf."

"Handicaps of 54 are too high and cause problems in competitive golf. The ability to keep a handicap without putting in competitive cards anymore is a stupid idea!”

This was an issue that was flagged up many, many months ago. Let’s be clear - 54 is a maximum handicap and was introduced to allow beginners to measure themselves against par. I actually don’t know a single person, man, woman or child, who claims to have a 54 handicap. And if somebody did win a competition while playing off 54, that handicap would fall pretty quickly. In my view, there is absolutely nothing wrong with allowing somebody who is learning to play the game to initially compete off 54.

"I am feeling disenfranchised and marginalised by the introduction and operation of the absolutely useless WHS.  The old system wasn't perfect, but the new system is even further from ideal. I am sure with tweaking and only slight changes; the old system was far better. The new WHS system does not inspire good golf. This will show, I am sure, in the coming years when standards drop, and everybody will be running around like headless chickens wondering where the hell everything went wrong."

"World Handicap System has allowed players to either attain handicaps too high or too low. Also slows play down as we have some players who must record a score every time they play. And the alteration in rules in 2019 was to speed up play."  

"The WHS is too easy to manipulate. Many low golfers have created 'vanity handicaps' for themselves using general play scores. Causes difficulties in team selection and entry to open comps. At mid-range and higher handicaps people build handicaps using general play to later win club comps.”

Are there really more “bandits” playing the game now than there were before the WHS was introduced? I can only speak about my own experiences but I can honestly say that if a golfer is determined to manipulate his or her handicap then no system will prevent them from doing so. And I have seen little difference.

"The WHS is good for older golfers whose standard is dropping because it more accurately reflects their current playing ability than CONGU."

"WHS system is good, it takes a year to early 'settle' one's handicap I think.”

These were the ONLY positive views we received. The bottom line is that you can’t all be wrong and, like it or not, we are going to have to learn to live with the WHS - until the powers-that-be come up with something else. And when they do (as they almost certainly will), we may find ourselves longing for its return.

Related Content

At Last - Positive Feedback About The World Handicap System

World Handicap System Continues to Cause Confusion

The World Handicap System - Golfers Have Their Say

The World Handicap System - Your Questions Answered

What do you think? post your thoughts and feedback on the Golfshake Forum: https://forum.golfshake.com/

Tags: World Handicap System WHS Survey industry insider GOLFERS Golf daily picks

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