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fourball betterball

Fourball bandits beware! Your scores can count for handicap

It’s a frequent complaint from club golfers – that the same teams sweep pairs’ events with massive scores. Have handicapping rules in GB&I found a solution?

 

Golfers in Great Britain and Ireland who crush fourball betterball competitions at clubs can now see their scores count for handicap.

Changes to the World Handicap System may see the rounds of players who dominate such competitions added to their records.

From April, scores from fourball betterball formats such as stroke play, Stableford, and Par/Bogey can be used for handicap purposes.

The changes will only apply to competition scores and not general play, and if a stringent set of criteria are met.

fourball betterball world handicap system

WHS Changes 2024: What are the new fourball betterball handicap rules?

Once a fourball betterball score is returned to the WHS portal by club software, it will look for some specific benchmarks. These are:

  • A pair must have scored at least 42 points or six under par.
  • One of the pair must have scored on a minimum of nine holes.
  • That player’s round will then be upscaled – with points for their unplayed holes added based on their playing partner’s score.
  • That will be 0 points if there is no score, one point if their partner has scored a point on a hole, and 1.5 points added where their partner has scored two or more points on a hole.
  • If the total score of that player is then 36 or more points, a score differential will be calculated and the score will be added to the player’s record. If it does not, it will not be acceptable for handicap purposes.

The score may, or may not, count as one of the player’s best eight. Scores that do not meet the criteria will still be added to records but will not be used in calculations.

Players won’t be required to try and work out whether their scores are acceptable following the conclusion of a round.

Chiefs hope the rules will prove a hit at golf clubs, with many having expressed a keenness for fourball betterball scoring to be used in handicapping within GB&I.

What was behind the WHS fourball betterball changes?

While it was hoped it would try and take away any motivation from players tempted to manipulate the system, it also gives more opportunities for golfers who may not submit lots of individual scores to play rounds that count for handicap purposes.

While fourball scores and match play scores already count towards WHS in other handicapping jurisdictions, most notably the USA, NCG understands handicap chiefs in GB&I were reluctant to employ a method using most likely score – fearing it was too open to an individual golfer’s interpretation.

Most likely score allows players to add shots to their tally, depending on how far away their ball lies from the cup, if they have a valid reason for not completing a hole.

In fourball betterball, that can be because their partner has already holed out and they cannot better that score.

With club golfers on this side of the pond very likely unwilling to accept such an arrangement, chiefs have instead turned to a scaled method to have an impact.

Now have your say

What do you think of these fourball betterball changes in GB&I? Will they help beef up security for pairs’ events? Let me know with a comment on X.

WHS Changes 2024

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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