R&A, USGA developing world handicap system

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The R&A and USGA announced Wednesday that they have formed a joint committee in order to develop a single, world handicap system.

Under the current system, more than 15 million golfers across 80 countries have registered handicaps in one of six systems across the world. Handicaps are currently administered by the USGA, Golf Australia, Argentine Golf Association, South African Golf Association, European Golf Association and the Council of National Golf Unions in Great Britain and Ireland.

The R&A and USGA have been working with golf organizations across the world for the past two years with the hopes of unifying the handicap system under a new measure that "takes into account the many inherent golf cultures and most common formats of play."

"We have been concerned for some time that many golfers find the handicapping landscape to be complicated and can be frustrated when it is not always applied in the same way in different parts of the world," said R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers. "We are working closely with the existing handicapping bodies to benefit from their insights as we try to formulate a system that will be easy to understand and can be applied consistently on a global basis."

According to the release, representatives from each of the six handicapping system will join with the R&A, Golf Canada and the Japan Golf Association to form a joint committee on the matter and will announce proposed measures later this year.

"With one global system, golf courses will be rated and handicaps calculated in a consistent manner everywhere in the world," said USGA executive director Mike Davis. "Removing borders to provide an easy way for all to play together is great for the game and golfers everywhere."