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National Club Golfer and National Club Golfer magazine

Why your handicap might change in 2024

Expected score? Course Rating minus Par? What does all this mean? Hannah Holden has broken it all down for us…

 

The World Handicapping System will introduce a variety of changes to the way your handicap is measured in 2024.

Several variables such as Expected Score and Course Rating minus Par can easily have your head in knots.

NCG’s Hannah Holden has a full rundown of the most important changes you must know heading into the new year.

Course Rating minus Par

Firstly, a Course Rating refers to the difficulty of a course for a scratch player.

If a course has a par of 70, for example, and a course rating of 71, the second number is the score the scratch golfer is expected to shoot.

Course Rating minus Par is an adjustment for the difference between the Course Rating and the par of the golf course.

You take the Course Rating minus the par of the course, then add this to your Course Handicap calculation. It should look like this:

Handicap Index x (Slope Rating/113) + (Course Rating – Par)

“Let’s say you are off 10,” Hannah tells us. “And you shoot an 82 on your par-72 golf course, but the course rating is 1.5 over par, so it is 73.5.

“That would class as you playing 1.5 shots better than your handicap, so it might come into your eight scores that qualify for your handicap.”

Some fourball betterball scores can count for handicap

From April, scores recorded in the fourball betterball formats like stroke play, Stableford and Par/Bogey can be used for your handicap.

This won’t apply to general play and is exclusive to competition scores. The competition must also meet a specific set of criteria.

This new rule should help players enter scores for their handicap who might not submit a lot of individual scores.

“I think this could be really good,” Hannah says, “and it could catch out a few people who might be protecting their handicap to win other competitions!”

Golf course can standardise their pars

Many, many golf courses contain holes that, for example, are par 4s from the back tees but par 3s from the front tees. This can confuse players who compete across several different formats.

This new handicapping rule will allow clubs to retain the same par for each gender across all tee sets rated for that gender.

Your club doesn’t have to adopt this rule, but it is an opportunity to establish continuity across the tee boxes.

Competitions over less than 18 holes can count for handicap

A new clause will be added to the World Handicap System rules which allow scores to be put forward to your handicap even if you haven’t completed 18 holes.

You could perhaps play in a 12-hole or a 14-hole competition, and this could count towards your scores.

“This is quite good from my point of view if I want to come from work in the summer, nip on to the golf course and play in a competition, there might be an option to have a 12-hole or a 14-hole competition,” Hannah explains.

“You’re getting a few more than nine holes, but you’re not having to commit to that full 18 holes. So it will bring great options to people who feel they can’t play a full 18 anymore.”

Expected score

Expected Score is a calculation that can upscale nine-hole scores to 18-hole scores. It is an automated sum combining the nine-hole score differential that has been completed with a player’s expected score over nine holes.

The R&A say this will be based on a course slope of 113 and your handicap index and each calculation will be personal to each player.

There are already methods in place that allow players to enter nine-hole scores, but this new strategy looks to increase the accuracy of these calculations.

This isn’t to say you can just walk in with a few holes remaining, and bag some solid scores coming in. There would need to be exceptional circumstances which means you can’t finish your round.

Par 3-course scores

There will be a new short-format way in which you can put scores in for your handicap. The shortest course over 18 holes you can submit a card from is 3000 yards and 1500 yards over nine holes.

These figures will be halved in 2024 and this new rule aims to allow beginners to enter scores for their handicap, allowing people to ease into the game.

This new rule will allow par 3 courses to qualify and they will be slope-rated in the same way 18-hole golf courses are.

“I think this is a really great initiative for beginner golfers because it’s just going to be so much easier and quicker to learn, and it makes golf so much more accessible for people to get handicaps.

NOW READ: Everything you need to know about the new World Handicap System changes

Watch Hannah’s latest YouTube video on golf handicap changes here, and make sure to like and subscribe!

Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spoken to the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson, to name just a few.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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