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What You Need to Know About 2024 World Handicap System Changes

By: | Tue 02 Apr 2024

Since it first made its way to these shores, the World Handicap System (WHS) has certainly divided opinion, drawing praise from some quarters and criticism from others, but there are things that the process has got right. However, just like the Rules of Golf, The R&A and USGA are constantly analysing and looking for improvements, which have now been translated into changes that were unveiled towards the end of last year.

Across Great Britain & Ireland, the respective national associations have come together to integrate these updates from the beginning of April, meaning that everyone in this part of the world will be playing under the same conditions.

But what specifically do you need to know for the 2024 golf season? Here are the alterations to the WHS that could affect your game this year and beyond.

Inclusion of Shorter-Length Golf Courses Within Course Rating System

This effectively means that the length required for a course to be eligible for a Course Rating in the WHS will be dramatically reduced. You will now see 18-hole courses with a set of tees measuring as little as 1,500 yards being eligible for both a Course Rating and Slope Rating, while measured 9-hole courses may be as short as 750 yards. What this means is that shorter courses, including par-3 layouts, will now be eligible for inclusion, ensuring that more golfers can secure a Handicap Index.

Use Expected Scores For a Hole Not Played

This is the change that may raise the most eyebrows as players will be assigned an expected score for holes they don't play, which has been calculated to accurately reflect the ability of the individual golfer. If you're someone who plays a lot of 9-hole rounds, then this process will instantly convert that round into an 18-hole score.

Golfer WHS

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

Playing Conditions Calculation Adjustments Made More Frequent

England Golf has stated that "The Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC) within GB&I has already been modified to increase the likelihood of an adjustment for abnormal playing conditions."

Enhanced Guidance on Conducting a Handicap Review

We all know how essential Handicap Committees are to the functioning of golf clubs - and that remains the case under the WHS. The rules recommend that Handicap Reviews are conducted regularly, ensuring that a Handicap Index remains accurate for each player. This will be aided by the introduction of new reporting tools that have been incorporated into the handicapping software.

The Inclusion of Four-Ball Scores Within GB&I

You might be surprised to see that four-ball (better ball) scores will now have to be submitted for handicapping, but there are conditions. England Golf has said: "Only scores of 42 points or more, where a player has featured 9 times or more, will trigger inclusion in the handicap calculation. Holes where the player did not score will be allocated points relative to the score recorded on the card."

Course Handicap Using CR-Par

Aligning with other countries around the world, Course Handicaps in GB&I will now be calculated relative to par, rather than simply being based on the Slope Rating, which has the potential to lower or increase the score you must target to play to your handicap. Depending on the difference between your golf club’s Course Rating and Par, this change might be significant.

The calculation used is: Course Handicap = Handicap Index X (slope rating/113) + (course rating - par). 


From April 2024, when software has been deployed for competitions, the Course Handicap will not be rounded to the nearest whole number before being converted into a Playing Handicap, but for general play score submission, the golfer will continue to use the calculated and rounded Course Handicap.

So, there you have it, the things that you will notice this year in the World Handicap System. Do you approve of these changes or do you feel that they could only further complicate and frustrate golfers? It'll be fascinating to see how this process develops this season.

Related Content

What The World Handicap System Gets Right

Changes Are Coming to The World Handicap System

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

Tags: World Handicap System WHS GOLFERS Golf daily picks

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