Skip to main content

World Handicap System still on track for 2020 launch

The Royal and Ancient Clubhouse at St. Andrews

Golf’s new World Handicap System should be implemented in 2020, the governing bodies announced Tuesday.

The system is designed to bring golf under a single set of rules worldwide, while encouraging as many golfers as possible to maintain a handicap index and enable golfers of differing abilities to transport their handicap around the world.

“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.” 

To assist with the education of the new system, the USGA and R&A are launching a social-media campaign that begins Tuesday, highlighting the eight key features of the program that include:

  • The minimum number of scores to establish a handicap index and a max index of 54.0;
  • Basis of calculation of the 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;
  • And frequency of updating a handicap index.

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