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This System Allows Golfers of All Abilities to Compete Against Each Other

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The recently-launched World Handicap System instates a set of rules that make it easy for players of all skill levels to be equalized on the green.

The element of golf that makes it truly unique is handicapping—a system that allows players of all levels to compete against one another, regardless of ability. This great equalizer has gotten a revamp in 2020 with the launch of the World Handicap System.

Golf already has a single set of rules for playing, equipment and amateur status. Yet there are six different handicap systems used around the world. The WHS will consolidate those by doing the following:

• Enabling golfers of varied abilities to play and compete on a fair and equitable basis, in any format, on any course, anywhere around the world.

• Making it easy to understand and implement, without sacrificing accuracy.

• Meeting the needs and expectations of golfers, golf clubs and golf authorities around the world.

• Being adaptable to suit all golfing cultures.

Among the broadest benefits of the new system: It will save time and offer more frequent updates. Golfers can now get a handicap established after just three rounds instead of five, making the game more accessible for new players. Likewise, the new system takes better advantage of today’s technologies, offering daily handicap updates, as opposed to the previous archaic two-week window. Factoring how your score is impacted in adverse playing conditions is another welcome upgrade.


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“I really like the new [Golf Handicap Information Network] app,” says Laura Heien, executive director of the Delaware Golf Association. “Great features like golfer lookup and a course handicap calculator help you find the info you need to play a round or calculate how many strokes you get.”

Heien also likes the daily revisions. “With the technology available in today’s world, there’s no reason we shouldn’t expect faster updates to our scoring record,” she says. “For golfers who play multiple rounds per week, your index is now responsive and will allow you to compete on a more equitable basis.”

For more details on the World Handicap System, a complete overview of the benefits, and to download the new USGA app, visit dsga.org or usga.com.

By Jim Finnegan. Published as “Level Field” in the 2020 Golf Guide.