World Handicap Details

We provide below some more details on the World Handicapping system. If you want a quick overview, please see this page.

When can I Pick up?

In order to work out if you can pick up your ball, you need to work out the net double bogey score for that hole. For example, if you have a handicap of 18, then on a par 4, your handicap gives you one stroke, so you are expected to score 5 on that hole, and a net double bogey would be 7. On the other hand, if you are a scratch golfer, you would have no strokes on that hole and so you are expected to score 4, and a double bogey would be 6.

The reason for this is to stop one bad hole from unduly affecting the handicap calculation. Picking up when you have a net double bogey, speeds up play and can make your round a whole lot more enjoyable.

How many holes of golf do I need to play to earn a handicap

You need to enter 54 holes of golf. This can be either 3 games of 18 holes or six games of nine holes, or some combination of both. In order for a nine hole score to be used in the handicap calculation, it must be paired with another nine hole round. The nine holes rounds can be on two different courses.

How often do I need to play to keep my handicap current

Unlike the earlier handicapping systems, your handicap does not lapse. This is significant improvement, allowing golfers to take significant breaks without worrying that their handicap will lapse.

What is the maximum handicap

Regardless of gender, the maximum handicap will be 54. This is a welcome change that allows many more golfers to enjoy the benefit of a handicap.

What happens if I played less than 20 rounds of golf?

For the purposes of handicapping, a round of golf is 18 holes of golf. A round can be played as a game of 18 holes or combines two games of nine holes. If there are 20 rounds available, then the standard formula of averaging the 8 lowest differentials are used. Otherwise, there is a complex formula which uses a smaller number of best scores subtracts and adjustment. For instance if there are only 6 scores, the best two scores are averaged and an adjustment of 1 is subtracted.

What is to stop other players manipulating their handicaps?

There are a number of measures in place. There is a hard cap of five which means that in any twelve month period the most that a golfer's handicap can increase is by 5 strokes. As well, there is a soft cap which means that if a player's handicap has increased by more than 3 strokes, then further increases are reduced by 50%, ie. their natural rate of increase is halved. This is in place until the five stroke cap is reached. This will reduce the number of players that actually reach their cap.

In addition there is a penalty for exceptional scores. If a golfer plays to between 7 to 9 strokes above their handicap (an amazing round), their handicap will be reduced by one further stroke in addition to the normal correction for such a good round. If they play 10 or more strokes above their handicap (an almost unbelievable round), they will have their handicap reduced by two strokes.

Is there an adjustment for playing conditions?

A significant innovation introduced by the WHS is an adjustment of between -1 to +3 for playing conditions. This means that if you playing on a wet and windy day, then the conditions will be taken into account in the handicap calculation, so you will not be penalized by as much as you would expect.