The Playing Handicap enforces the allowances we play to when taking part in a World Handicap System competition in Great Britain & Ireland. But does it need to be compulsory?
With a World Handicap System that isn’t universally applied across the globe, the Playing Handicap is one that can divide opinion.
You have your World Handicap System index, software then calculates your Course Handicap, and then, and only in a competition, the Playing Handicap is also applied.
It makes no difference to the score that goes on your handicap record, but it applies an allowance which changes depending on the format you are playing.
Many of you will know it is 95 per cent in individual stroke play. And for pretty much anyone over a 10 handicap, that means they will be subtracting a stroke when they take part in a comp – or possibly more the higher your course handicap goes.
Handicap chiefs at CONGU, which represents the four-home union governing bodies of England Golf, Scottish Golf, Wales Golf and Golf Ireland, revealed in a guidance document the 95 per cent allowance “is needed to provide equity for singles stroke play, as this must also take into account the probability of a steady golfer gaining a leader board position”.
Are playing handicaps compulsory in the Rules of Handicapping?
But did you know that while allowances in the Playing Handicap are a mandatory part of the World Handicap System in GB&I, they are not compulsory in the Rules of Handicapping?
Appendix C reveals while national associations are responsible for establishing handicap allowances, they could “delegate this responsibility to a Regional Golf Association or golf club”.
The handicap allowances it sets out are “recommended”, rather than being obligatory as they are in GB&I.
Is it a big deal? In an entirely unscientific poll we carried out on X, only 30 per cent of respondents expressed any irritation with the Playing Handicap – with just over 43 per cent saying they weren’t bothered.
And a similar calculation has been included in GB&I handicapping for some time – it was formerly known as ‘bonus for excellence’ – but was applied at a later stage rather than before the round as is the case with WHS.
Now have your say
What do you think of the Playing Handicap? Should clubs have the choice of whether to impose it or not – given it makes no difference to the score that goes onto our handicap records? Let me know with a comment on X.