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USGA, The R&A Announce 2024 World Handicap System™ Revisions

LIBERTY CORNER, N.J., USA and ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (Nov. 8, 2023) – The USGA and The R&A today announced the first update to the World Handicap System™ (WHS™) as part of an ongoing review of the Rules of Handicapping™ and Course Rating System™ with a continued emphasis on accuracy, consistency and equity. The latest revisions will go into effect beginning January 1, 2024.

Many countries have seen significant increases in the number of scores being submitted for handicapping purposes since the WHS was introduced in January 2020, reflecting golf’s broadening appeal. More than 100 million scores have been posted each year, unifying millions of golfers through a standard measure of playing ability. The 2024 update leverages the performance data gathered from around the world, in addition to feedback received from many of the 125 countries now using the system.

Significant updates to the WHS include:

Since its inception, the WHS has embraced the many ways golf is played around the world by giving national associations flexibility to apply regional discretionary items, with the objective for greater alignment over time. For this reason, the governing bodies expect countries to continue to shift the way they calculate Course Handicaps so that they are relative to par, making a golfer’s target score to “play to handicap” more intuitive.

Golfers are encouraged to visit their national association’s website to learn more about the discretionary items that apply to their region. Contact details for national associations can be found on the WHS website here: https://www.whs.com/#association.

The USGA and The R&A have also recently launched a new WHS Software Accreditation and Interoperability Programme to help ensure that there is consistency and accuracy in the calculation of handicaps worldwide, and to assist with the retrieval of a Handicap Index and the return of away scores from country to country.

Steve Edmondson, Managing Director – Handicapping & Course Rating at the USGA said, “The game of golf continues to evolve and the WHS has embraced those changes in a dynamic way to help all golfers, everywhere they play. It is a monumental time in golf, and improving both the accessibility of obtaining a Handicap Index and leveraging powerful data and technology to easily and accurately track performance is a great step forward.”

Claire Bates, Director – Handicapping at The R&A said, “We have made good progress in the early stages of WHS but we know there are always areas that can be improved as we gather more data and information on the system from around the world. Conducting a regular review process is important in terms of good governance and enables us to examine some of the key areas in which we have received feedback. We will continue to work with the handicapping bodies and national associations around the world to ensure that the WHS is providing golfers with a system that provides a sensible balance between inclusivity and integrity, making it as easy as possible to get a Handicap Index, subject to meaningful safeguards.”

The USGA and The R&A jointly launched and govern the WHS to provide a modern and responsive system, that gives an accurate reflection of a player’s demonstrated ability. It is calculated by incorporating the Rules of Handicapping and the Course Rating System and is administered by a range of handicapping bodies and national associations around the world.

The more flexible and accessible nature of the system has led to the introduction of successful initiatives from a number of national associations aimed at making it easier to obtain a Handicap Index and be part of the WHS.

Mirroring the review processes of other areas of governance in golf, including the Rules of Golf and the Rules of Amateur Status, reviews of the WHS will continue to be conducted at regular intervals, taking into consideration performance data and feedback to help identify areas for improvement.

To learn more about the World Handicap System, please visit www.WHS.com.