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World Handicap System


WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: NEW WORLD HANDICAP SYSTEM  (RCGA, January 2020) Handicaps are always a bit contentious. After all, when you’re arguing over strokes with your playing partners on the first tee, how many shots you’re giving away can be the difference between who is buying drinks after the round. That’s why changes to the handicap system are so carefully scrutinized. The new World Handicap System brings key golf organizations—including Canada, Great Britain, and the USGA—under one system. The group now using the same handicap system represents 15-million golfers in 80 countries or about a quarter of all golfers. The goal is to create a unified network that allows you to take a handicap wherever you’re going—regardless of whether that’s Bandon Dunes in the U.S., Banff Springs in Canada, or Old Head in Ireland. With the new system now in effect, here are a few things to keep in mind for your next round.  In the past, your handicap was based on 10 of your last 20 scores. The new system takes eight of 20, but instead of taking 96% of the total, as was the case in the past, the new system uses 100%. What does that mean for you? Your handicap should be more representative of how well you play—and favours the more consistent player. Your handicap should also travel better, allowing you to play competitively with golfers from most of the world. The new system also considers the impact of an out-of-the-ordinary weather day. If you’ve ever played in high wind, you’ll recognize it isn’t as easy as playing on a warm, calm day. The new system takes into account abnormal weather events and how it impacts your performance. The system uses an algorithm to determine whether there’s an unusual number of high scores on a specific course on a specific day and factors that into the handicap. The new system will see a limit of Net Double Bogey as a maximum hole score, so those holes where everything seemed to go wrong won’t reflect your true playing potential.  The maximum handicap is now 54.0, regardless of gender, meaning even beginners or first-time golfers will have an established handicap. Each player will find it easier to play a game against an opponent using different tees. The new system uses a course’s slope rating, course rating and par to figure out a “playing handicap,” making it easier for one player to tackle the back tees, but still play a match against a golfer using the forward tees.  Play well,


Todd Read BSc. BSc. MBA General Manager Riverview Golf Club

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