New World Handicap System 1/1/20

As you have probably heard by now, U.S. golfers are transitioning to a new World Handicap System on January 1st. To make that change (and transfer all the current system data to the new system) all current methods of posting (club computer, GHIN website, mobile apps) will go down on December 31st and will not be available again until January 6th. If you play during that period, please hold onto your scorecards to post when the new system comes up. If you use an app to post, you will be instructed to perform an update before you can post again. If you share an email address with someone else with a GHIN number, you should have already received an email from the NCGA asking you to provide a unique email address for each GHIN number. Please do that BEFORE January 1st, so you can continue to receive your handicap revisions automatically.

Many aspects of the new world system are based on our current system, but there are some significant changes.    Kelly will be conducting a short presentation on the new system at the club this Thursday, January 2nd at 4 p.m. In the meantime, here are a few highlights:

Handicaps will be updated nightly (if you played & posted that day). Email revisions will still come on the 1st and 15th of every month, and our club tournaments will still be based on one of those day’s indexes. But you can look up your daily index for use in your own games.

The math is different. Your index will now be based on 100% of the best 8 scoring differentials in your last 20 rounds. Currently it’s based on 96% of the best 10 of last 20.   New Golfers can now get a handicap with as little as 3 rounds of golf (54 holes total, whether they were played as 9 or 18 holes at a time).   A “complete” scoring record is still your last 20 scores. Once you have 20 scores, for each new score you add the oldest one drops off.

Maximum Handicap Index for both Men & Women will be 54.   That translates to a Course Handicap at NCCC of 56 for Men playing from the white/blue tees and of 59 for Women playing from the yellow/red tees.

Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) has been replaced by Maximum Hole Score. This adjustment (for posting purposes only) is still designed to prevent one or two “blow-up” holes from impacting your handicap too severely. But now your maximum hole score on any hole is NET DOUBLE BOGEY. In our old system only golfers with single digit handicaps had a maximum that was tied to double bogey. The rest of us used numbers like 7, 8, 9 or 10, and that maximum number was the same whether we were playing a par 3 hole or a par 5.   The new system is tied to the par of each hole, so our maximum number is different depending on the par PLUS the handicap strokes we are entitled to on that hole.   This will take some getting used to, but I think the easiest way to do this is to think of it as GROSS DOUBLE BOGEY, Plus any Handicap Strokes for that hole.   So the maximum will always start as a 5 on a Par 3, a 6 on a Par 4 and a 7 on a Par 5. And then you ADD whatever handicap strokes you get on a particular hole to come up with the final number.   IF you get 1 handicap stroke on a particular hole, then your max score for that hole would be 6 (on a par 3 – double bogey +1), 7 (on a par 4 – double bogey +1), or 8 (on a par 5 – double bogey +1).   If you get 2 handicap strokes on a particular hole, then your max for that hole would be 7 (on a par 3 – double bogey +2), 8 (on a par 4 – double bogey +2) or 9 (on a par 5 – double bogey +2). And if you get 3 strokes on a particular hole, your max is 8, 9 or 10, again starting with the par of the hole, adding 2 strokes for gross double bogey, and then adding your handicap strokes for that hole.

New Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC) will take weather & course conditions into consideration when calculating your scoring differential. On any day where a course has at least 8 scores posted by players with handicap indexes of 36.0 or below (doesn’t matter the gender or what tees they played), the system will automatically analyze those scores to determine if conditions differed significantly from “normal” to an extent that scoring was impacted. If so, ALL differentials for the day will be adjusted up or down.   This will most likely come into play on our course during the winter, when conditions can be much tougher than normal. Please always try to post your score the SAME DAY you play. If you delay posting, your score will inherit any PCC adjustment for that day, but it will not have been part of the process that led to the decision to adjust.

An Exceptional Score Reduction (ESR) will replace the old “R” that used to show up on your index if you had too many low “T” (tournament) scores in your past year’s history. Now, ANY time you post a score with a differential that is at least 7 strokes lower than your current index, the system will automatically apply a 1 stroke reduction to your index. If you post a score that is 10 or more strokes lower, that reduction will be 2 strokes.

Caps will be in place to prevent wild upswings in your handicap index. There is no limit to the amount your handicap can decrease, but the new system will put a cap on the amount your index can increase.   Your index on January 1st, 2020 will be stored as your “low index” for the past 12 months (since they can’t bring across that history). Going forward, the system will hold your low index for a rolling 12-month period, and a cap will prevent your index from ever going more than 5 strokes above that low point.

Your Course Handicap is now tied to PAR, not to the Course Rating. Prior to the WHS, course handicaps were actually tied to the Course Rating, and your handicap indicated the amount of strokes you needed to play down to the course rating. Going forward, your course handicap will be based on the number of strokes needed to play down to par.   This is not a big difference if the course rating is roughly the same as the par for the set of tees you are playing (NCCC for women).   But if there is a difference of a stroke or two (NCCC for men), be prepared for your Course Handicap to possibly be lower in 2020 than it was in 2019.