2020 Handicap Changes

2020 sees what is probably the biggest change to handicaps ever when all six of the world's handicap authorities come together to adopt the new World handicap System or WHS. Current literature suggest an implementation date in January 2020 but, at the moment, much later in the year seems more likely.
Without getting into too much detail, here's the highlights:

Course Slope Rating and Course Index

Anyone who has played recently in the States or Europe will be familiar with the concept of 'Slope'.
In golfing terms, Slope is not the slog up the 6th fairway but is a measure of course difficulty and a factor in the new handicap calculation.
Course 'Slopes' will range in number from 55 to 155 with 155 being the most difficult. The number 113 will become familiar to all of us because it's the slope rating that everyone around the world will have their handicaps based on.
Slopes do not just apply to courses, they will be based on the tees used. So, for example, the white tees here at DG can expect a higher Slope rating than the yellow tees.
Course Index replaces Standard Scratch. Competition Standard Scratch or CSS will be replaced with a Course Index for the day which will be calculated at one minute past midnight and use all the scores submitted in the preceding 24 hours, not just those entered in competition.
The process of assessing courses for their Slope rating and Course Index is ongoing at present.

Revised Basis for the Calculation of handicaps

In one respect, it couldn't be simpler; the average of the best 8 from the last 20 qualifying scores. For anyone with less than 20 qualifying scores in their record, a sliding scale applies. This new handicap will be known as the Handicap Index and replaces the current Exact Handicap.
However, the complication is the adjustment for Slope which many won't like, at least initially. But it does mean that the relative ease or difficulty of the course being played, anywhere in the world, is factored into the handicap calculation. Practically, this could mean DG members losing shots when playing away and away players gaining shots when playing at DG.
Slope means that every time we play, anywhere, we will have to calculate our playing handicap based on the Slope of the course and tees to be used. As an example, men can expect one or two shots more on their handicap when they play from our white tees compared to our yellow tees.
Any time anyone plays in a qualifying event, including supplementary rounds, anywhere in the world, following the round, the handicap systems involved will take the result and perform the calculations in reverse and record the result in the home club's handicap record.
So, every time we play we will need to calculate our playing handicap. For those who like mental arithmetic, it's an easy enough calculation but for everyone else, England Golf will be publishing a free app which will do the calculation for us.

The Changeover And Lead Up To It

In the months leading up to the changeover, England Golf have asked software providers to release a version of the current handicap software that shows the expected 2020 handicaps alongside the current ones. Whether or not this happens remains to be seen but it would be helpful.
The changeover, when it comes, will be completed overnight and the new handicaps will be effective from first thing in the morning of Changeover day.
It may be worth noting that there is no single world-wide changeover day. Each handicapping authority is free to choose its own date provided it falls within the 2020 calendar year.
And, finally ....

Minimum Number of Rounds and Supplementary Cards

There are rumours that a requirement of the new handicap system will be to record a score every time we play. It couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, as far as the UK and Ireland are concerned there's no change at all.
The minimum number of qualifying rounds a year to retain a competitive handicap remains at 3. Beyond that, we can all play as many rounds as we like without ever submitting card.
For those who feel the need to submit the occasional additional card, the Supplementary Card facility will remain an option exactly as now.

If you have any questions or would like further information, please feel to contact Steve Gridley via email using steve.gridley@btinternet.com

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