From 2nd November 2020 the way handicaps are calculated and used changed – as we moved over to a new system called the World Handicap System (WHS). As its name suggests, the WHS is a world-wide initiative to standardize the way that handicaps are used.
Before the change we have a handicap which we use at any course that we play irrespective of whether that course was considered easy or hard to play. Take for example our Club; we have 2 courses the Kings and the Jubilee – we used the same handicap on both courses although many would argue that the Kings is more challenging.
In its simplest form the WHS addresses this issue. It does this by using two new concepts – Handicap Index, and Slope Rating. Handicap Index reflects the individual players golfing ability. Slope Rating reflects the difficulty of the course to be played.
Your Handicap Index is calculated by averaging the best 8 of your most recent 20 scores over the past 2 years. If you don’t have 20 qualifying scores in this period then your Handicap Index will be based on an adjusted calculation. Once you have a full record of 20 scores your Handicap Index will be based on the ‘Best 8 from 20’ principle.
These scores will then be used and adjusted to reflect a handicap benchmarked on a statistically perfect, average course.
The Slope Rating of a course is derived by combining two elements, Course Rating and Bogey Rating. Both these elements reflect the playing difficulty of the course from different Tee positions.
Course Rating is the score a ‘scratch’ player is expected to achieve in normal playing conditions while a Bogey Rating is the score that a player with a handicap of 20 for men and 24 for ladies is expected to achieve in normal conditions. It is the difference between the two ratings that produces the Slope Rating.
The higher the Slope Rating the more difficult the course therefore the more additional strokes will be needed for players with less ability to be able to play it. The lower the Slope Rating the less strokes will be needed. Mathematically combining these two determines the handicap that the player will use on that day and on a particular course.
You will not need a mathematical brain or calculator to work all this out. All golf clubs will display a conversion table showing the handicap (called your Course Handicap) to be used for the course and each tee positions for different Handicap Index. Ours are fixed on the Starters Hut by patio area.
You can find out your Handicap Index (provided that you have a handicap before the change-over) by using the PSI computer screen in the Clubhouse or by using the How-Did-I-Do or My England-Golf apps.