World Handicap System: Not Long Until You Can Play Off 54

The R&A has given an update and launched a new video campaign and website ahead of the World Handicap System coming into effect next year

world handicap system

The R&A has launched a new video campaign and website ahead of the World Handicap System coming into effect next year

World Handicap System: Not Long Until You Can Play Off 54

It's not long now until the World Handicap System comes into effect and golfers can begin playing off of 54 and logging all of their rounds for handicap purposes.

And with just months to go before its launch, the R&A and USGA have launched a new website and a social media video campaign aimed at increasing awareness and understanding of how it all works.

The new World Handicap System comes into play next year and has been designed to make golf more accessible and give players a better measure of ability across different countries.

It focuses on three main points -

  • To encourage as many golfers as possible to obtain and maintain a Handicap Index
  • To enable golfers of differing abilities, genders and nationalities to transport their Handicap Index to any course around the world and compete on a fair basis
  • To indicate with sufficient accuracy the score a golfer is reasonably capable of achieving on any course around the world, playing under normal conditions

Golf's governing bodies say that many countries will be ready to transition to the World Handicap System in early 2020, although they say that "it is anticipated some will need more time."

We initially thought that it would come into effect on 1st January 2020 in the UK but it sounds like it may be slightly later, although we'll surely find out much more over the coming months.

Related: World Handicap System - What does it mean for you?

They say it "remains on track for implementation starting in 2020."

The website - whs.com (opens in new tab) - has been launched to give players and national associations more details and information ahead of implementing the system next year.

Education on the new WHS has begun with events being held in Singapore, South Africa, Great Britain and Ireland, Japan, Argentina, Brazil, Continental Europe, Canada, the Caribbean and the USA.

As well as the new WHS website, a social media video campaign has also been launched, which will emphasise the eight key features of the WHS.

The 8 features are:

  • Minimum number of scores to establish a Handicap Index and maximum Handicap Index of 54.0
  • Basis of calculation of Handicap Index
  • Acceptability of scores for handicap purposes
  • Course Rating and Slope Rating
  • Calculation of a Playing Handicap
  • Maximum hole score for handicap purposes
  • Adjustments for abnormal playing conditions
  • Frequency of updating a Handicap Index

Watch the first video below -

See more

The R&A say that "significant progress has been made" as they prepare for the new system, with the library of educational materials, Rules of handicapping, release of the technical specifications and the continuation of testing all near completion or in the works.

It also says that many national associations around the world are getting their golf courses rated in accordance with the Course Rating System with local software platforms being worked on so that clubs are ready to apply the new Rules of Handicapping.

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “There are many ways in which it is important for golf to modernise and become more appealing for people thinking of taking up the sport and handicapping is clearly one of them.

"The World Handicap System is a major new initiative for the sport which will establish a clearer and more consistent handicapping process for golfers throughout the world.

“We are working closely with national associations, as we do across all our core activities, to ensure they are fully prepared for the introduction of the new system as soon as possible after it becomes available for implementation.”

“The World Handicap System is the latest example of our work to make the game more welcoming,” said Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA. “Golfers throughout the world will be able to play equitably, measure their success and more fully enjoy and engage with the game. After working with national associations across the world on Course Rating throughout the past 30 years and now the World Handicap System, this monumental collaborative effort will benefit everyone in golf.”

The R&A say that 76% of people are in favour of the new system in an international survey answered by 52,000 people. 22% were willing to consider its benefits.

What are your thoughts on the World Handicap System? Let us know on our social media channels

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Elliott Heath
Senior Staff Writer

Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, 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 covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-6. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!


Elliott is currently playing:


Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max

Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max

Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x