Explaining the WHS – 20 Score Record

Why does my Handicap Index increase after submitting a good score and vice versa?

Over 100 federations have successfully transitioned to the new World Handicap System (WHS) – a milestone achievement in creating a modern handicap system for all golfers everywhere.

Launched in January 2020, the WHS provides golfers with a unified and more inclusive handicapping system for the first time. Developed by The R&A and USGA in close coordination with existing handicapping authorities, the WHS provides all golfers with a consistent measure of playing ability.

The WHS continued its roll out to Great Britain and Ireland in November in 2020 and, so far, the system has been well received by both federations and golf club administrators, with players also seeing the benefits.

Feedback from across Great Britain and Ireland has identified five topics where golfers and clubs would benefit from further information and The R&A is offering further guidance on the below areas:

  • No Returns and 0.1 Increases
  • 20 Score Record
  • Mixed/Multi Tee Events
  • Playing Conditions Calculation
  • 95% Handicap Allowance and Equity

Understanding the 20 Score Record

What happens if I don’t have 20 scores on my scoring record?

  • Under the WHS, you can obtain a Handicap Index once you have submitted scores from 54 holes
  • Each score is converted into a Score Differential, which takes into account the difficulty of the course played , and your initial Handicap Index will be the lowest Score Differential, minus 2
  • The ‘minus 2’ adjustment errs on the side of caution, as there is not much evidence upon which to base the calculation and determine your true ability
  • This is an important safeguard which protects the rest of the field
  • Until there are 20 Score Differentials in the record, the calculations are based on a sliding scale, with additional adjustments when the number available is less than 7

How is my Handicap Index calculated when I have 20 scores on my record?

  • Each new acceptable score that you submit replaces the 20th oldest score, to create a new ‘most recent’ 20 score record
  • Your previous 20th oldest Score Differential drops to 21st position and is no longer included in your next Handicap Index calculation
  • This continues on a 20 – score rolling cycle, with new scores added continually replacing your older scores
  • The average of the best 8 Score Differentials from your ‘most recent’ 20 scores is recalculated after each new acceptable score submitted

Why does my Handicap Index increase after submitting a good score, and vice versa?

  • Each new acceptable score that you submit replaces the 20th oldest score and creates a new Score Differential
  • If a good 20th Score Differential is replaced within your best 8 Score Differentials with a good, but higher, Score Differential your updated Handicap Index could potentially increase
  • If a poor 20th Score Differential is replaced within your best 8 Score Differentials with another poor, but lower, Score Differential your updated Handicap Index could potentially decrease