By Elliott Heath published
I’ll be honest and say that when the World Handicap System went live in the UK in November 2020 (just as lockdown began), I was not too excited about it. I loved the old CONGU system, having grown up with it and known its workings. Two under my handicap and I’d come down 0.2, two over it and I’d have sadly missed the buffer zone and another 0.1 was on its way.
I initially kept everything the same when we were allowed to play golf again in England, so for the first few months I only ever put a scorecard in during a competition, just as I used to. However, with my handicap cut from its pre-WHS 4.7 down to 2.4 and my golf getting worse, I finally admitted to myself that my handicap was not reflective of my ability.
I loved the thought of being a 2-handicapper and the initial WHS cut made me feel like a good golfer, but the simple fact was that I was struggling to break 80. So, in August I decided it was time to get a handicap that was reflective of my current ability and I have put in every single scorecard that I could since then.
From 13th August I’ve entered 22 cards at six different courses, meaning all of my counting eight scores are from within the last five months - as opposed to one of my usual playing partners whose earliest counting score is from May 2019 and most recent card was done in July (I’ve entered 22 since his most recent one). My handicap started August at 2.0, reached a high of 5.1 in November before coming down to 3.6 and then rising again to where it is today, 4.3.
In that time I came second in Division One in our Monthly Stableford, where I was receiving 7 shots thanks to my course handicap +1, and have scores ranging from 3-over-par to 13-over-par (although a 9-over-par nine hole entry was my worst). I would not have finished second in that competition had I been playing off of 2 and not been handing in all of my cards. This may sound I’m some handicap-protecting bandit but I’m genuinely not, I just wanted my handicap to be correct. Every round now has a purpose for me and my holing out is about as good as it’s ever been as I have not been receiving gimmes.
I’ve encouraged my dad and girlfriend to enter as many scores as they possibly can and am impressed by just how many people have been using the WHS correctly. Work colleagues have the My EG app or are now iGolf members and we can both attest each other’s scores. I must say I have absolutely loved fully getting involved with the World Handicap System and the brilliant MyEG app, it's definitely added something to my enjoyment of the game. If you're a serious golfer and you're not entering in all of your cards, why aren't you? Golf has really started to move with the times over these past few years and the WHS and tech around it is certainly a superb implication.
If you’re like I was pre-August, not loving the WHS and not entering your cards, I’d say go for it. Yes you might be worried of having a bad game and your handicap going up (like two of my usual playing partners are) but that will soon go away if you commit to entering every single round. Gimmes are, in my opinion, terrible in non-match play scenarios as most of us would probably miss at least one of our gimmes each round, so why not test yourself on every single one? You could say that they’re time-saving measures but holing out from 3ft can be a really difficult thing to do so by consistently doing it you’ll be a much better competition golfer.
Also, if you’re not a member of a club then I’d recommend subscribing to iGolf. For £40 per year you’ll get access to the MyEG app, an official handicap and personal liability insurance. Two of my colleagues have it and there’s now no moans about them being bandits or having incorrect handicaps.
I'm glad I started using the WHS correctly and would encourage everyone to do the same. If I'm being honest, I now probably prefer it to the old CONGU system. If you're worried your handicap might go up then don't worry as over time it will come back down again as only eight of your last 20 scores count. Having been very unenthusiastic about the WHS at the start of the year I am now fully sold on the system!
What are your thoughts on the WHS? Let us know on social media
Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016. He graduated in Sports Journalism in 2016 and currently manages the Golf Monthly news, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He has also covered three Open Championships on-site including at Carnoustie in 2018 when he was inside the ropes with Tiger Woods. He has played 31 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Alwoodley. He currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats between 3-5. His golfing highlight is making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, and he has made one hole-in-one.
Elliott is currently playing:
Driver: Honma TR20
3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max
Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max
Irons: Mizuno MP5
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design
Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
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