England Golf’s handicap chief Gemma Hunter has the answers to your pressing queries

It’s just months until D-Day arrives – the introduction of the new World Handicap System. We’ve written reams on the subject – why not take a look at some of it here? – but as the countdown really intensifies we thought we’d bring the messenger directly to you.

We asked you on our social media channels what was on your mind when it came to WHS and we put those questions to Gemma Hunter, England Golf’s head of handicapping and course rating.

So whether it’s about why you need to be a member to hold a handicap or what will happen if you don’t have enough scores, here are your queries answered…

Am I right in thinking a player’s handicap will change from course to course owing to each course having its own rating (slope)? If so can you explain how the calculation works?

Correct. Each course has a Course and Slope Rating. The Course Rating is the score we expect a scratch golfer to play the course in and the Slope Rating provides the relative difficulty between the scratch golfer and the bogey golfer.

Each set of rated tees at a course will display the slope rating, and usually a chart for you to look up your Handicap Index. The rating is likely to be different for each set of tees.

To calculate your course handicap, you first need a Handicap Index (this is different to your CONGU exact handicap) and the slope rating of the tees you are playing.

The Course Handicap = Handicap Index x (slope rating/ 113).

Will all England courses Slope and Course ratings be completed November 2? If not, when?

By November 2020, England Golf will have rated 85% of courses, and the remaining courses will be rated in 2021. This will not stop the transfer to WHS as a provisional rating will be issued for use in the short term.

Who is it that calculates the slope rating for each course, or is this done on results?

Course and Slope Rating is carried out by trained county teams and then confirmed and signed off by England Golf.

Why do you need to be a member to hold a handicap?

A requirement for holding a handicap is that a player is a member of an affiliated golf club. This is a stipulation of the WHS.

So what happens if you’re not an active member of any club and haven’t put a card in during this time?

Only golf club members can be allocated a Handicap Index.

When it is introduced will handicaps change immediately? Or will we need a new set of eight scores post change?

Any player with a current CONGU handicap will be given a Handicap Index. This will use scores returned under the CONGU system calculated using the WHS process.

If the system goes back two years (to try and get the last 20 scores), what if a golfer doesn’t play a competition in three? Do they completely lose their handicap?

The initial period for transition will look back to Jan 2018 to calculate the Handicap Index. If players choose not to return a score for handicap purposes they wouldn’t lose their handicap, as long as they maintained their club membership.

Why isn’t there going to be a minimum number of rounds per year on the new World Handicap System to keep your handicap live/active?

In all the previous six systems around the world, CONGU were the only ones who had a minimum number of scores. It was felt that, to be more inclusive and with the fact that golfers player differently, it should not be included as part of the Handicap System.

What criteria will the CONGU use for active/inactive handicaps under the World Handicap System?

There won’t be any Active/Competition Handicaps.

How will the new system help with preventing the blatant handicap manipulators if non-competition cards continue to be allowed and the system becomes even more volatile in handicap movements?

Golf is a game of trust and integrity, and we expect player to be honest with the system. However, a club handicap committee will have oversight and be expected to take action if manipulation is suspected. 

As a +1 handicap will only competition rounds count as my last 20 cards? Will it be pointless signing on to the computer if playing with friends?

No. All players can return both competition and social rounds.

How will weather affect the new system? Or rounds played during winter? Your World Handicap System questions will continue to be answered on the next page…