The governing bodies of amateur golf in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales have signed the licence for the new World Handicap System (WHS) which will come into operation on November 2, 2020.
As members of the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU), England Golf, the Golfing Union of Ireland, the Irish Ladies Golfing Union, Scottish Golf and Wales Golf have been driving forces in planning for the new system in alliance with the R&A and USGA.
The current golf handicapping system maintained by CONGU will be replaced by WHS, which will unify the six different structures presently in operation throughout the world of golf. With one single, global system in place for the first time, golfers will be able to obtain and maintain a handicap index and use this on any course around the world. In addition, they will be able to compete or simply play a casual round with fellow golfers anywhere on a fair and equal basis.
As well as encouraging players new to the sport to obtain a handicap with ease, the WHS will also modernise the game for those already well versed in the game of golf.
Under the new system a player’s handicap will be based on the average of eight best scores from their last 20 rounds. WHS will also take into account factors currently not fully represented in the existing handicapping procedure through a course and slope rating system.
“We believe the introduction of the new World Handicap System will have a hugely positive impact for golf around the globe,” said England Golf CEO Nick Pink. “Our team are working hard to deliver the transition from the current system to WHS and will continue to confer with the clubs, counties and our technology partners to ensure that everything runs to plan ahead of the start date.”
Sinead Heraty, Chief Executive of the ILGU said: ‘The Irish Ladies Golf Union and the Golfing Union of Ireland are delighted that the new World Handicap System will come into practice in November 2020. The transition from an incremental system to an averaging one will be period of great change, however once a planned education process is complete, the new system will make handicapping much more consistent globally.”
Andrew McKinlay, Chief Executive of Scottish Golf, commented: “Following recent education seminars across the country, Scottish Golf is pleased to confirm that the new World Handicap System will be implemented on time on November 2, 2020. We believe that moving to a more unified handicap system will be beneficial to all golfers. The team at Scottish Golf will continue to liaise with, and support clubs across the country to ensure the transition between now and next year is as seamless as possible for everyone involved.”
The CEO of Wales Golf, Richard Dixon, is also delighted to mark another step on the road to WHS. He said: “A lot of hard work has been going on behind the scenes in preparation for the launch of the World Handicap System and we are delighted that we have reached this key stage of the process. We are very excited about the positive benefits WHS will have to the game of golf in Wales and across the golfing world. The Wales Golf team look forward to working with our clubs, fellow home Unions, technology partners and the R&A over the next year to ensure that the transition is as seamless as possible for clubs and most importantly for golfers.”
CONGU, the United States Golf Association (USGA), Golf Australia, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA) and the Argentine Golf Association (AAG) represent around 15 million golfers in 80 countries who currently maintain a handicap. The aligning of all six handicapping authorities behind the WHS is a hugely significant step in the modernisation of golf across the globe.
WHS has been introduced under the auspices of the USGA and the R&A. Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the R&A said: “The R&A’s purpose is to ensure golf is thriving in 50 years’ time and the World Handicap System is one of the key ways in which we can ensure the long-term health of the sport. We all want to encourage more people to take up golf and having a handicap which provides an accurate measure of playing ability is one of the best ways of achieving that.”
Further information about the new World Handicap System can be found on the England Golf website and also via the R&A website.