Handicaps and You


The new World Handicap System came into being in January 2020.

As a golf professional member of the PGA Of America, I find the WHS an equitable and more user friendly system than its predecessor. While I am no expert, I do possess a pretty good understanding of the basic operations.

First of all, you do not have a handicap. What you do have is a handicap index. The index is the decimal number that you get as a GHIN subscriber.

You handicap index, say 15.7, is a portable measure of your playing ability.

A course handicap, on the other hand, is assigned by plugging your index into a Course Conversion Table that is specific to each course and or set of tees that you are playing.

For example, a male player with a 15.7 handicap index playing the Blue Tees at Dutch Hollow Country Club would be assigned a 17 handicap. If the same player decided to play the White Tees, his handicap would be 15. From the Gold Tees he would be a 12 handicap. From the Red Tees, a 9, and from the Silver Tees a handicap of 4.

You can see from this example that there is a wide range of handicaps available for a single index. It is all based on the par, slope and course rating of the tees the player elects to play. Just because the player is a 15.7 index does not mean he is a 16 handicap.

The system is very fair, and is based on research and comparisons of millions of golf scores world wide. The new conversion tables lend themselves to a fair comparison of golfers, and an equitable stroke allotment with built in checks and balances.

You can go to https://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/course-handicap-calculator.html to figure out a course handicap for any index. Just enter the pertinent information.

Having a handicap index is a valuable tool for any golfer, making it possible to compete with players of all abilities on any golf course.

I hope this information gives you a basic understanding of the way things work. Further formulas and information is all available on the USGA website if you are interested.