February 6, 2023

World Handicap System

Golf is a sport enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels. One of the unique aspects of the game is the use of handicaps, which allow players of different abilities to compete on a level playing field. The World Handicap System (WHS) is the system used to calculate and maintain golfers' handicaps globally. In this guide, we will explain the basics of the WHS and how it works.

What is a Handicap?

A handicap is a numerical measure of a golfer’s potential playing ability. It is used to adjust the number of strokes a golfer receives in a round of golf. For example, a golfer with a handicap of 20 would receive 20 strokes on a course of standard difficulty. This allows players of different abilities to compete against each other on an equal footing.

How is a Handicap Calculated?

A golfer’s handicap is calculated by taking the average of their best 8 out of their last 20 rounds of golf. The scores are then adjusted based on the difficulty of the course and the weather conditions on the day of the round. Once the adjusted scores are calculated, they are then used to determine the golfer’s handicap index.

How is a Handicap Used in Play?

A golfer’s handicap index is used to determine their course handicap, which is the number of strokes they will receive on a specific course. The course handicap is calculated by using a table that takes into account the golfer’s handicap index and the slope and rating of the course.

How is the WHS different from the previous system?

The previous system was based on a golfer’s average score, whereas the WHS is based on the golfer’s potential ability. The WHS also allows for adjustments to be made for different course and weather conditions. Additionally, the WHS allows for golfers to have a single handicap that is recognized globally, whereas the previous system had different handicapping systems in different countries.


The World Handicap System is a fair and accurate way to calculate and maintain golfers' handicaps. It allows for golfers of all abilities to compete on a level playing field, and for adjustments to be made based on course and weather conditions. The implementation of the WHS globally ensures that golfers' handicaps will be recognized and accepted anywhere in the world.