How the Handicap Works

Introducing the new World Handicap Scheme

Many of you will know that the handicap system is to be changed in 2020. The governing bodies of amateur golf in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales have announced that they have signed the licence for the new World Handicap System, which will come into operation on November 2nd 2020.

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. The Golf Club Great Britain handicapping scheme will be implementing this system next year, so your handicap with us will be in line with official club handicaps.

What will the new World Handicap System mean for you?

To calculate your initial handicap
When you have submitted your first three cards, we take the 'average' of these cards to establish your initial handicap. This is calculated by taking the difference of the Gross score and the SSS off the yellow tees for each card.

For example, three scores of 88, 90 and 95 on a course with a SSS of 72 will result in an initial handicap of (16+18+23) 57 divided by 3 = 19. Therefore giving you a playing handicap of 19. As stipulated by CONGU, GROSS scores are adjusted to a maximum of double bogey, e.g. on a par 4 hole, if you gross 7, we will manually adjust your score to 6.

We recommend you adjust GROSS scores only (stableford points need no adjustment) before submitting your cards, but don't worry, we will always check scores have been adjusted before entering them.

Please Note: When calculating initial handicaps, we do NOT adjust scores down, this is only for ongoing handicapping (for silver or gold memberships only).

Buffer Zone
The maximum handicap limit is 54.0 regardless of gender. The buffer zone categories will remain the same with category 5 increasing to 54 handicap:

Handicap of playerBuffer ZoneNet differential below zeroNet differential above buffer zone
Category 1: up to 5 0 to +1 Handicaps reduced by 0.1 for each stroke net differential is below zero Handicap increased by 0.1
Category 2: 6 to 12 0 to +2 Handicaps reduced by 0.2 for each stroke net differential is below zero Handicap increased by 0.1
Category 3: 13 to 20 0 to +3 Handicaps reduced by 0.3 for each stroke net differential is below zero Handicap increased by 0.1
Category 4: 21 to 28 0 to +4 Handicaps reduced by 0.4 for each stroke net differential is below zero Handicap increased by 0.1
Category 5: 29 to 54 0 to +5 Handicaps reduced by 0.5 for each stroke net differential is below zero Handicap increased by 0.1

A player's 'Buffer Zone' is a range of scores returned in competitions where the player's handicap will not be changed. The buffer zone is different depending upon the player's handicap category.A player returns a score within his Buffer Zone when his Nett Differential is within specified limits.

Where the net differential is within Buffer Zone, no adjustment to handicap is made.

World Handicap Scheme changes
Once you have your initial handicap in place, your handicap will be the average based from the best eight of the last 20 scores.  Your initial handicap will be used to generate your first handicap index.

Once a player is allocated a Handicap Index (Handicap Index, A player's personal handicap on a course of neutral slope 113 calculated to the nearest 0.1) the system will start to build the record based on an adjusted average, relative to the number of scores that have been submitted.  All GCGB members will be deemed to have a home course neutral slope rating of 113.

To maintain an accurate handicap, the new scheme recommends that players should return at least 20 scores over a two-year period. But we only ask for a minimum of three cards each year to keep your handicap active. The more cards you submit, the more accurate your handicap index will be.

A maximum hole score of nett double bogey (for handicapping purposes only) will remain in place which means that all scores over a double bogey should be adjusted down to 2 over par. ppa

Slope System
Your handicap will now change depending on the slope ratings of the course you are playing. This will indicate the difficulty of a golf course for the ‘bogey’ golfer relative to the scratch player.

If you are playing a harder course (determined by slope rating), you may get extra shots, and if playing an easier course, get less.

Each set of tees will have a course rating and slope rating. These will be displayed at the club, either in the pro shop or by the first tee/starter’s box.