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world handicap system

WHS explained: How many scores does it take for my handicap to be accurate?

We all know the World Handicap System is based on an average of the best eight out of the last 20 scoring differentials, but does it take that many to reflect our ability? We find out
 

Eight out of 20. It’s been drilled into us from the moment World Handicap System was first unveiled. Get your scores in, complete that record, and get those calculations as tight as can be.

But are 20 scores the be all and end all? How many scores does it take before we start seeing a number that’s actually reflective of our ability? You’re about to learn it’s fewer than you might think.

World Handicap System explained: Our expert says…

Regular readers will know we’ve been mining a very valuable webinar produced by the Golf Club Managers’ Association with England Golf’s head of handicapping and course rating, Gemma Hunter.

In it, golf club managers put the questions they’ve been getting from their own members about WHS and this was one that came up – mainly because lots of players have been struggling to get a full 20 scores in their record.

So, clearly, the more rounds you submit to the system the more accurate your handicap is going to be. But if spending all your time down the club isn’t an option, what does it take before you can start looking at your numbers with confidence?

Here’s what Gemma said: “The big thing is that 20 scores is where we get to for eight out of 20. It doesn’t mean to say a handicap isn’t a handicap until it gets to that point.

“It’s not a huge deal to say it’s the race to 20. We would like people to get 20 scores in their record, but if somebody only has 15 it’s no big deal. They’ve still got their handicap and they can still play.”

She later added: “You actually get full accuracy at about seven or eight. Seven or eight scores is where we stop having the additional minus adjustment within the table.

“[It’s] where you can say you’re pretty confident, in terms of that is the appropriate handicap for a player.

“As you build it up, it just becomes more reflective – because they are the last scores you put in and, obviously, they rotate. So somebody could have 20 scores in their record from 10 years ago, in the future, but it doesn’t mean to say they’re accurately handicapped.

“It’s more about how often those handicap and those scores are revised rather than there just being 20 in there.”

Does that help? Let me know in the comments, or tweet me.

Need more information on the World Handicap System?

Visit our dedicated WHS page where you will find everything you need to know and details of how to contact us if you have any more questions.

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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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