Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: 2024 Updates to the World Handicap System
The World Handicap System™ (WHS™) is being updated effective January 2024. There are four key changes being implemented:
Reduced Minimum Course Length for Score-Posting Purposes
There will be an updated low-end limit for courses to be issued a Course Rating™ and Slope Rating™ of 1,500 yards for 18 holes or 750 yards for nine holes. This is a reduction from the current minimums of 3,000 yards for 18 holes and 1,500 yards for nine holes. Southern California has the largest segment of courses in the country in this yardage category, approximately 65, which will become eligible for score posting for handicap purposes. The ratings will be provided to these facilities and become available on GHIN.com and the GHIN Mobile App on approximately January 1.
Treatment of Nine-Hole Scores
When a player posts a nine-hole score, the WHS will automatically calculate an 18-hole Score Differential™ for the round, based on the player’s nine-hole Score Differential and their current Handicap Index®, allowing the nine-hole round to be considered in the player’s Handicap Index calculation right away.
The Score Differential will be a combination of the nine holes played along with an expected score based on the player’s Handicap Index. It is important to note that the expected score is based on the average Score Differential of a player with a given Handicap Index and a normal distribution of scores — so it is not specific to each player. The expected score is not course specific and not related to the nine-holes played. As an example, it is not the “back nine” of a course if the nine-hole score played was the front nine.
Note 1: If fewer than nine holes are played, the score is not acceptable for handicap purposes.
Note 2: Play of a rated nine is required for a score to be acceptable for handicap purposes.
The above is significantly different than what has happened historically when a player has posted a nine-hole score. An 18-hole Score Differential has been created by combining two nine-hole Score Differentials. This resulted in a nine-hole score waiting to be combined, sometimes for a significant time until another nine-hole score has been posted. The new procedure will be far more responsive and equitable.
10-17 Hole Scores
Rounds of 10 to 17 holes receive an 18-hole Score Differential with an expected score value for holes not played. When 10-17 holes have been played, a value is calculated from the holes played (must include a rated nine). Then, the expected score procedure is used for any holes not played. Lastly, these values are added to determine the 18-hole Score Differential.
Note: The player will be required to post their score hole by hole when 10-17 holes are played, so the appropriate Score Differential can be calculated from the holes that were played to combine with the expected score for the holes not played. Scoreposting tools will provide this capability.
The new procedure differs from what is in place today. Currently, when 10 to 13 holes are played, scores made on holes 10 through 13 are disregarded and a nine-hole score is posted. When 14-17 holes are played, net par is used for the remaining holes to allow an 18-hole score to be posted. The new procedure generally eliminates the use of net par for holes not played.
Handicap Review is an integral part of WHS, with such a review recommended at least annually for members of a club. Handicap administration software will include additional reports, analyses and notifications to identify players with abnormal scores and provide recommended actions for the Handicap Committee to consider. In certain scenarios, this will include a recommended amount of adjustment to the Handicap Index. This enhancement does not preclude a Handicap Committee from acting in relation to the Handicap Index for other reasons.