If you are a frequent golfer, you’re well aware of the term “handicap” when it comes to quantifying your skill level. For example, a person who on average shoots a 90 on a par 72 course would be considered a “+18” handicap, as this would reflect that they typically shoot around 18 strokes over par. If you typically shoot 72 on a par 72, then you would be considered a zero handicap (otherwise known as a “scratch” golfer). But how does one determine their handicap?
Well there are currently six different handicap systems in the world, so it can be a bit confusing depending on the system you or your local course uses. To help avoid this confusion, golf is implementing a universal handicapping system known as the “World Handicap System” (WHS). As golf is a game played all around the world, it seems logical. But what should you as an amateur know about this new system? Well here are five key items to know about the new WHS.
1. The WHS Launched in January 2020
Yes, to the surprise of many who are just hearing this, the WHS launched in the United States and Canada in January of this new year. Rest assured, you’ll have your WHS handicap index available to you once golf season starts, as courses around the country will be implementing it this year.
2. All Handicap Indexes Will Reflect an 18-hole Handicap
Under the former Canada Handicap System, it was possible for players to have both a nine-hole handicap index and 18-hole handicap index. Under the World Handicap System, a player will only have an 18-hole handicap index. This helps ensure that each player has only one true Handicap and helps prevent players with only a nine-hole handicap from being at a disadvantage when playing in an 18-hole tournament. This move ensures every player is on a more even playing field, which is truly what the World Handicap System wants to achieve.
3. The WHS is More Accurate Than Other Systems
Under the WHS, the handicap index is determined based on only 8 of the last 20 rounds that you’ve posted to the system. This allows for more current, low scores to have a larger effect on the index and thus keeping sandbaggers (i.e., people who purposely try to keep a higher handicap than their actual skill level dictates) at bay… hopefully.
4. Weather and Course Conditions Will Adjust Your Posted Score
Have you ever played a course in high winds or rainy conditions that drastically affected your score? Well under the WHS, the system will take into account the course conditions at the time that you played and accurately make overnight adjustments to ensure that it doesn’t balloon that pristine handicap you’ve been working so hard to establish. This really is a great (and practical) new feature.
5. Just Another Reason to Finally Establish Your Handicap
While golfers in Canada have always had the Golf Canada Score Center to establish their handicap, not every golfer has taken advantage of the service because of the confusion and requirements to establish an accurate handicap index. The WHS makes the task much more streamlined and allows golfers to establish and maintain a handicap with ease.
If you don’t already have an established handicap and aren’t currently a member at any golf club, you can register directly with Golf Canada. Have fun, and no sand-bagging!
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