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Handicap allowances scorecard

Could handicap allowances be scrapped under WHS? England Golf say it’s an ‘ongoing debate’

One of the most debated parts of the World Handicap System is being discussed globally and at the highest level, Steve Carroll has learned
 

The 95 per cent handicap allowances for individual stroke play and Stableford competitions in the World Handicap System is being reviewed by the game’s governing bodies.

In NCG’s From the Clubhouse podcast, Gemma Hunter, England Golf’s head of handicapping and course rating, said discussions were taking place at a global level.

The allowance, which can influence the shots received by golfers in competitions only as part of the Playing Handicap but does not affect the score entered for a player’s WHS index, has been much criticised in some quarters.

Its aim, though, was to achieve equity – to ensure when everyone is playing together that each player in the field has an equal chance of success in the competition.

Hunter said England Golf were constantly reviewing how WHS is working in the nation and there was an “ongoing debate” over 95 per cent.

“Statistically, we have looked at it and said, ‘Is it right, or is it not right?’ We’re having that discussion at a world level.

“So we’re not leaving it at 95 per cent and that’s it. We’re having the discussion, we’re saying, ‘Let’s have a look at the data. Let’s have a look at the stats.’

“It’s not going to go away but we are going to keep reviewing it and looking at it.”

She added on the evolution of 95 per cent: “It’s always been there, so 95 per cent isn’t new. It’s just now visible. In the old CONGU system we used to have something built into how we did the annual review, which was called Bonus for Excellence and it was exactly the same principle.

“It basically meant we reduced the higher handicap player’s handicap more than we did a lower handicap player, or what we expected them to score was different.

“It’s always been included in the system. It was included in the USGA system prior to WHS. It was used in Golf Australia. There were a lot of countries around the world who used it as a raw value and had it exposed. We had it hidden, so people didn’t see it.

“Now we’ve just made it visible and people think we’ve created a new beast. It’s not. It’s something that’s always been there.”

Learn more on handicap allowances in the From the Clubhouse podcast

You can listen to the more of what Gemma has to say on 95 per cent handicap allowances as well as other topics, including how we deal with golfers determined to manipulate the World Handicap System, in the NCG From the Clubhouse podcast.

Listen to Gemma’s full episode in the player below, or on your preferred podcast platform.

Subscribe to NCG

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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