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World Handicap System Starting in 2020

The USGA and 5 other national golf associations around the world are codifying their handicapping systems into a single, "World Handicap System" (WHS) in 2020.  For the USGA, this change occurs January 1st.  For our friends across the pond, it looks like this will happen at the end of 2020, most likely November 1st.  Below outlines the Current USGA formula vs the new World Handicap System.

Golf League Tracker supports BOTH methods for handicapping, as well as calculating your handicap based on Par of the course, rather than the course rating. It's your choice.

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The New World Handicap system (2020 and beyond)

Equitable Stroke Control

This graduated system of Equitable Stroke Control is going away, and will be replaced with a single limit for all players of Net Double Bogey.  Here's a guide on how to set up ESC in Golf League Tracker.  The Net Double Bogey option is now available for you to set up for your league.

Maximum Handicap Index

The maximum handicap index (NOT course handicap) will be raised to 54.0 (for 18-holes) for all players, men and women alike.  Since most golf leagues are 9 holes, which would translate to 27.0 index.  Note that the USGA and the World Handicap system does not have a maximum course handicap.  A course handicap is calculated from the player's handicap index based on the tee box the player is assigned to, and can compute to higher than 54.0 (or 27.0 for 9 hole leagues).

Handicap Percentage

The 96% mutiplier will be eliminated in the WHS, and 100% will be used.

Calculating Course Handicap

The calculation of the course handicap (which will be called the "Playing Handicap") is slightly different.  The new formula will be

(Handicap Index * Slope / 113) + Course Rating - Par

for the tee box being played by the player. This has almost the same effect as adjusting for the tee box used, but is applied every time the Playing Handicap is calculated.

Number of Scores to Use

Golf League Tracker can be configured to use a custom number of scores for handicapping (e.g. "take the most recent 6 scores and drop the 2 highest"), or for the officlal number of scores per the World Handicap System Formua. The WHS now has an adjustment to the player's handicap when they have 6 or fewer scores as noted below:

# of Scores Use Best
N Number
20 8  
19 7  
17-18 6  
15-16 5  
12-14 4  
9-11 3  
7-8 2  
6 2 -1.0
5 1  0.0
4 1 -1.0
3 1 -2.0

What Isn't Covered?

The World Handicap System has a couple of adjustments which are not covered in Golf League Tracker's calculation

  • PCC - Playing Conditions Calculations. The PCC is used to adjust a player's calculated differential in the event the course conditions are abnormal for the day.
  • Soft Cap and Hard Cap - These limits reduce the amount of increase for a player's index over a 12 month period.

The Old (Pre-2020) USGA Formula

Equitable Stroke Control

Equitable stroke control limits how many strokes a player can take on a hole for handicapping purposes.  The player still writes down their actual score, but for calculating handicap, the score on the hole is adjusted down.  Currently, the USGA has a graduated system, where your maximum amount per hole is based on your current course handicap for that round.  The higher your handicap, the higher the allowed maximum is.  Here's the current system in more detail:

USGA Handicapping FAQ

Maximum Handicap Index

The current handicap system limits male golfers to 36.4, and 40.4 for women. Note that the player's course handicap can exceed this amount, and it only applies to the player's handicap index, and not the course handicap.  If the slope for the tee box the player is playing is greater than 113, then the player's course handicap max exceed the maximum handicap index.

Handicap Percentage

The USGA uses a 96% multiplier when calculating the player's handicap index.

Calculating Course Handicap

A player's "course handicap" is calculated based on the tee box the player is playing.  The formula is

Handicap Index * Slope / 113

In addition, if multiple tee boxes are being used, then the course handicap is adjusted further based on the different in course rating of the tee box for the player, and the "default" tee box that you set up for your course.

USGA Handicap Change Summary

  Pre 2020 USGA Formula 2020 World Handicap System
Equitable Stroke Control Graduated maximum depending on Player's Course Handicap Net Double Bogey for all Players
Handicap Percentage 96% 100%
Maximum Handicap Index 36.4 54.0
Calculate Course Handicap

Handicap Index * Slope / 113.

Additional adjustments are made based on the differences in the course rating of the tee boxes used.

(Handicap Index * Slope / 113) + Course Rating - Par


Configuring Golf League Tracker

We're Ready!

Golf League Tracker is ready for the World Handicap System for 2020.  Please contact support if you need help setting your league up for the new system. If your current league software doesn't support the WHS, come on over to Golf League Tracker! 

To configure your league yourself for the World Handicap System, or the old USGA method, take a look at this help article which shows you which settings to change.  As always, if you need help configuring your league, please contact us.