Golf’s new World Handicap System (WHS) remains on track for implementation starting in 2020, according to The R&A.
The system is designed to bring the game of golf under a single set of Rules for handicapping and provide a more consistent measure of players’ ability between different regions of the world,
Education has begun with events being held in Singapore, South Africa, Great Britain and Ireland, Japan, Argentina, Brazil, Continental Europe, Canada, the Caribbean and the USA.
A secure resource portal, accessible via whs.com, has also been launched to provide national associations with a library of materials that they can use to help support their own education efforts.
Coinciding with this release, The R&A and the USGA are launching a social media video campaign to remind golfers of the eight key features of the new Rules of Handicapping and to reveal more details. These features include:
- Minimum number of scores to establish a Handicap Index and maximum Handicap Index of 54.0
- Basis of calculation of 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
- Frequency of updating a Handicap Index
Significant progress has been made in preparation for the rollout of the new system, which includes building a library of education materials, finalising the new Rules of Handicapping, release of the technical specifications and the continuation of testing. Many national associations around the world are busy ensuring that their golf courses are rated in accordance with the Course Rating System and working to update local software platforms so that they are ready to apply the new Rules of Handicapping.
While many countries will be ready to transition to the WHS early in 2020, given both the magnitude of the change for some jurisdictions and varying seasonality throughout the world, it is anticipated that some will need more time.
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “There are many ways in which it is important for golf to modernise and become more appealing for people thinking of taking up the sport and handicapping is clearly one of them. 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.
“We are working closely with national associations, as we do across all our core activities, to ensure they are fully prepared for the introduction of the new system as soon as possible after it becomes available for implementation.”
“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. After working with national associations across the world on Course Rating throughout the past 30 years and now the World Handicap System, this monumental collaborative effort will benefit everyone in golf.”
Since its conception, the development of the WHS has focused on three key goals: to encourage as many golfers as possible to obtain and maintain a Handicap Index; to enable golfers of differing abilities, genders and nationalities to transport their Handicap Index to any course around the world and compete on a fair basis; and to indicate with sufficient accuracy the score a golfer is reasonably capable of achieving on any course around the world, playing under normal conditions.
The system has been devised following extensive consultation with the six existing handicapping authorities: Golf Australia, the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) in Great Britain and Ireland, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA), the Argentine Golf Association (AAG) and the USGA. The Japan Golf Association and Golf Canada have also been closely involved in developing the new system.
Widespread support for the WHS was expressed in an international survey of 52,000 golfers with 76% in favour of the new system and a further 22% saying they were willing to consider its benefits. Focus groups were also held in different regions of the world to elicit detailed feedback on the features of the new system, which have contributed to the finalised Rules of Handicapping.