The World Handicap System

The World Handicap System (WHS) is now in use and every golfer needs to understand its impact on handicapping.

Here are some resources to help Members understand how the new system works.


Course Assessment

To prepare for the introduction of the new system, our course has been assessed, and is based on how a scratch golfer would view the course.

RGC Course Ratings are Blues 71.4, Whites 71.4, Yellows 69.7 and Reds 73.4.


Slope Rating

This rating represents the relative difficulty of a course for a bogey golfer as compared with a scratch golfer.
In this context, bogey means a 20 handicap for men and 24 for women. Slope Rating has been set separately for each tee colour.

  • Slope Rating will be higher on a course with long carries, narrow fairways, thick rough, etc.
  • Slope Rating falls within the range of 55 and 155
  • In GB & Ireland the average Slope rating is 125
  • For Handicap purposes, a Neutral Slope rating of 113 is used

RGC's Slope Ratings are:

Blue tees – 139
White – 139
Yellow – 135
Red – 135


Your Handicap Index

As a Member, you previously had a playing handicap. Under the WHS you have a "Handicap Index" instead.

This will be computed as the average of the best 8 of your last 20 qualifying scores posted since 1st January 2018. If you have not posted 20 qualifying scores since that date, a method similar to allocating a new handicap is used.


Course Handicap

Your handicap on a specific day is calculated by reference to the particular course and tee that you are playing from. This is the same process whether playing at home, or elsewhere.

Your Handicap Index is multiplied by the Slope Rating for the course and tee, and then divided by the "Neutral" Slope Rating of 113.

For example, if the Slope Rating of the Blue tees on a particular course was 127, then your Handicap Index is calculated as follows:

10.0 then 10 x 127 ÷ 113 = 11.2 will be your Course Handicap for the day.
20.4 then 20 x 127 ÷ 113 = 22.5
29.6 then 30 x 127 ÷ 113 = 33.7.       Etc.

Charts are available at all clubs, and in the PSI software used on the club terminals and phone Apps will take the strain, so you will not need to do this calculation yourself. Our chart is on the wall next to the door to the Pro's Shop.

Whilst the Rules of Golf do not require you to record your handicap on your card, it will be of assistance if you can add your Handicap Index, course handicap and strokes received in relevant boxes.  It will also help you keep track of how you are doing.

Submitting Scores

On completion of the round, as soon as possible on the day, you must post your scores electronically on the PSI of the club you played at. If using phone Apps, scores must be posted before midnight. Your Handicap Index will be updated in the “Cloud” at 5 minutes past midnight. There will be sanctions for non-submission of scores.

Please also register for your England Golf account at  Do do so, you will need a valid email address which RGC knows about.

By signing up you can also receive the England Golf WHS newsletters directly to your inbox.

You can also track your handicap through the England Golf WHS Platform.

Adjustments to your Handicap Index

We no longer have a “ratcheting system” of handicap adjustment. Previously, a good score results in a much bigger handicap adjustment than having a poor score. A spell of poor form is rewarded by multiple 0.1 increases in handicap. Under the WHS your Handicap Index is likely to vary a lot more over the short term, the advantage being that it will better reflect your current form.

Your Handicap Index is calculated as the average of your best 8 out of the last 20 "Acceptable Scores" (see below). It is recalculated (just after midnight) whenever a new score is returned.

The upward movement of your Handicap Index within a defined period of time is however CAPPED, to limit the rate of increase during a period of particularly poor form.

For handicap purposes, a big score at any hole will still be reduced to a net double bogey.

There may also be exceptional score adjustments after a very low score is returned.


"Acceptable Scores" for Handicap Purposes

There are two categories :

1. Competition Scores – scores in all singles competition rounds of Individual Strokeplay (Medal or Stableford) played over a qualifying measured course from a specific tee.

2. General Play Scores – scores in non-competition and social golf can be used but pre-registration with the Pro or on an app is required. As with Supplementary Scores currently, you must register your intention to submit a score for handicap purposes prior to commencement of the round.

Team and Matchplay scores are currently excluded in England.


Playing Handicap

We have covered Course Handicaps, and how they are calculated by first by multiplying your Handicap Index by the Slope Rating, and then dividing by 113.

You will then need to determine your Playing Handicap by altering your Course Handicap, dependent on the format of the competition. For example:

  • In 4 ball Matchplay the restriction is 90% but 100% in 2-balla.
  • Individual Strokeplay (Medal and Stableford) the restriction is 95%.

A full list is given on the R&A website at

So a bit of juggling is necessary when it comes to getting the right handicap for recording scores on your scorecard.


Playing Conditions Calculation

Adjustment for course conditions on the day is made automatically by the software. It looks at all the scores submitted on the course for that day and determines if the course or weather conditions on the day differed from “Normal”. This is similar to the previous CSS adjustment. If there is a howling wind blowing, most scores will be lower than normal, and the software will detect this and make appropriate adjustments.

The adjustment is however  conservative in nature. In easy conditions it may adjust the gross score for the round by 1, or increase the gross by up to 3 in tough conditions.

Other changes that you may have noticed

No “Competition” handicap status, “C” status
No handicap categories, currently Categories 1 – 6
No Standard Scratch
No 0.1 handicap increases
No Buffer Zones in determining handicap adjustments


Further Information

England Golf’s dedicated website for the WHS is at

England Golfs FAQs on the WHS can be found at

The World Handicap System Map is also worth a look at


Video Clips

The links below provide further information in video format via Youtube.

WHS Player Journey 

World Handicap System - Playing Handicap

World Handicap System - Handicap Index

World Handicap System - Acceptable Scores

World Handicap System - Daily Revisions

World Handicap System - Playing Conditions Calculation

World Handicap System - Playing Journey