Explaining the WHS – 95% Handicap Allowance and Equity

Why is there a 95% handicap allowance in individual stroke play?

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 95% Handicap Allowance and Equity

Why do we use a 95% Handicap Allowance in individual stroke play formats of the game?

  • In individual stroke play formats of the game it is important that when a player performs well, they will place well on the leaderboard – regardless of their Handicap Index
  • This is what we mean by Equity, and in individual stroke play competitions involving a large number of players with a wide range of abilities, it is the 95% Handicap Allowance which creates this equity
  • If the 95% Handicap Allowance is not used in these formats of the game, there is an increased probability that a higher handicap player will win the event
  • This is because there are generally more higher handicap players in the field and so it only takes one of them to have a good day