Golf StoriesWhy Did My Course Handicap Change with World Handicap System?

September 28, 2020by Brian Hurlburt0

By Tim Quinn, SNGA Director of Handicapping and Course Rating

One of the more significant changes in the World Handicap System (WHS) is the change in the formula for calculating a player’s course handicap.  The calculation still uses course rating and slope rating exactly as it did in the past, but the additional term (+ course rating – par) at the end has a profound meaning for many golfers.

Many players thought that your course handicap was the number of strokes needed to play to a net score of par.  In 2019 and prior, that was not the case (except in the rare situation where the tees were rated at even par), as the course handicap was the number of strokes needed to play to a net score equal to the course rating.

Under the WHS, the definition of course handicap has changed, and now a player’s course handicap is the number of strokes he or she needs to play to a net score of par.  For example, on a par 72 course with multiple tees, if the back tee is rated 74.0, those players will get two additional strokes, and for a tee rated 68.0, anyone playing from those tees will lose four strokes.

For those of you familiar with the old system, and remember the dreaded Section 3-5 adjustment, this may sound very similar.  In fact, with the WHS and the formula change, there is no adjustment required when players compete from different tees, except in the rare case where par is different from different tees.

Please follow the link below to a page with a few USGA handicapping videos, that cover this, and a couple of other WHS changes.

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Brian Hurlburt

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