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world handicap system

It’s one of the most controversial parts of the World Handicap System – and it could be about to change

Can you work out the Playing Conditions Calculation? This much-maligned aspect of WHS is currently under scrutiny. Steve Carroll reports
 

The Playing Conditions Calculation – one of the most maligned aspects of the World Handicap System by club golfers – is under review.

Gemma Hunter, England Golf’s head of handicapping and course rating, told a webinar hosted by the Golf Club Managers’ Association the governing body were hoping for a decision from the R&A and USGA on any changes to the controversial metric by the end of May.

The PCC is meant to look at whether “playing conditions on the day differed from normal conditions to the extent that an adjustment is needed to compensate” by comparing scores submitted on any given day against “expected scoring patterns”.

But almost from the launch of WHS in November 2020, there have been concerns that the calculation is far too rigid.

Last year, Hunter revealed the England Golf handicapping team were fielding multiple queries every day about the PCC and said it was due to be discussed at a meeting with the R&A under the remit of the WHS operations committee.

Now she has revealed that a review of data collected from rounds in England has shown it is “far, far, too conservative” for what the governing body require.

Around 12 million anonymised scores across England, Ireland and Wales had been shared with the R&A and USGA researchers.

“The PCC calculation is currently under review,” she said. “It will still exist but [the R&A and USGA] are looking to scale the PCC to a level that is more reflective of the conditions people face and the scores being returned.

“The biggest challenge with this is to try and find something that is acceptable around the world because there is one single calculation. It’s not something where we can have a slightly different setting to another part of the world. There is one calculation and one set of settings for the whole of the world.

“We have looked at our data and we’ve identified that, around about 92 per cent of the time, the PCC remains at zero, which is far, far, far too conservative than what we need it to be. We don’t want it to be to the extremes of the old CSS calculation. We need to try and find some middle ground and that’s what the R&A and USGA are currently doing.

“We’re hoping for some form of decision, ideally, by the end of May. As soon as we know if any changes are going to be made we will be informing everybody of the process. It will only affect future scores. We won’t be doing any backdating.”

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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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