CG Members,


Let’s talk about the new World Handicap System (“WHS.”)  I will summarize with some of the key changes and some basics, and then further down get into the weeds. This is a long one, so I will try to keep it organized.


The changes are more varied and more complex than at first glance. Mike Mounts and I participated in the Colorado Golf Association (“CGA”) Rules of Handicap Training and it was eye-opening.


For lots of the discussion below and for lots of the administrative stuff I get to deal with on the Handicap Chair, there are pretty complex calculations that will get you to the right answer. However, if you want to make your life easier, do two things. When you are getting ready for a round, visit or use the GHIN app on your device to determine your Course Handicap as well as your playing partners’ CH. The new system figures out the difference if players play different tees automatically. After your round, if you post Hole-By-Hole scores into the scoring computer or the GHIN App, you won’t have to think about what your Maximum Score on a hole might be – the system does it for you.


A few simple things

  • The new GHIN online page at and the updated apps for your devices are likely to get a lot of use. There is now Hole By Hole score entry that I encourage everyone to use. It is great for pre-round Course Handicaps and great for post round score entry. Also available are detailed hole by hole statistics tracking for the stats nerds out here.


  • It is important to post your score THE DAY YOU PLAY. Please post all scores on the day you play, to the best of your ability.


  • GHIN is the new gold standard for USGA Handicaps. Basically, if it’s not a GHIN Handicap, it’s not a legitimate handicap. Some of the other retail and online handicaps (US Handicap at the golf store, for example) aren’t accepted as USGA Authorized Handicaps any more. When it comes to our Member / Guest, you will need your guests to have GHIN handicaps.


  • Your Handicap Index will be adjusted every day instead of twice per month.


  • The Handicap Index calculation took out the “96%” factor.


  • Your Handicap Index is calculated on your best 8 of your last 20 differentials (it used to be 10 of 20)


  • We can issue a provisional Handicap Index with as few as 54 holes played. It used to be 5 full rounds.


  • In the old system you would round calculations along the way before your next calculation. Now do all calculations to the tenth and round your final answer to get to your Course Handicap.


  • Lots of information is out there. One good place to look is log in to your account at Grab the three lines next to USGA’s logo top left and choose “WHS Changes.”


  • Quite a few other changes are too complex for this setting. Those changes are more for the administrator than the golfer.



Most Likely Score

First, we should look at the COVID-19 situation and what scores you should be posting for play this year starting March 15. Yes, you should be posting scores even with the accommodations courses are making to comply with local rules and regulations. Each course may handle various situations differently so we will focus on CommonGround, though the principles apply anywhere.


CommonGround has the cups pulled up and out of the ground to prevent a ball from being holed. I have heard of a variety of groups using different methods to determine a score for whatever game you are playing.


Regardless of how you are playing in your group, the concept that you need to be aware of is “Most Likely Score.” For each player on each hole, you need to determine yourself what the “Most Likely Score” you would have made and use that score when you post your score.


 “Most Likely Score is:

  • The number of strokes already taken to reach a position on a hole, plus
  • The number of strokes the player would most likely require to complete the hole from that position, plus
  • Any penalty strokes incurred during play of the hole.”


For the specifics as described by the USGA – I will attach a two PDF’s – one is from the new Rules of Handicapping, and the other is a USGA Comment specifically related to the current COVID-19 situation.  


This concept isn’t necessarily new, but it’s more clearly stated under the WHS.


Even though the situation is odd with no holes to putt into, YES, you should be posting scores for rounds played since March 15.



Maximum Hole Score

In the new WHS, regardless of their Handicap Index or Course Handicap, each player can post a Maximum Score of Net Double Bogey.


Determine your Course Handicap from the tees you will play. From the scorecard, the hole handicap will tell you if you get a stroke or strokes on a hole.


For example if your CH is a 10. The hole you are playing is a Par 4 and is the 8 handicap hole on the card. The max you can post is a 7. Gross double bogey is a 6, but since you get a stroke on that hole, you post one more to have 7 net to 6.


If the hole was Par 3, but the hole handicap is a 16, your max is 5. You don’t get a stroke on this hole, so a double bogey in a Par 3 is 5.


In the old Equitable Stroke Control, your max score was influenced by your CH, and varied depending on what your CH is that day. The new system in the WHS simplifies this for everyone.


If you post your scores using Hole by Hole entry, the system will know what your max is and you don’t have to think about it. If you dunk 4 balls in the lake and head straight to the beverage cart and don’t finish a hole, enter a 10 and the system will figure it out for you. 


Pro tip – post your scores Hole by Hole. You can do hole by hole and choose whether or not you enter detailed statistics. 



Course Handicap

This calculation changed to include adjusting for players in the same competition playing from different tees all in the base calculation. This is handled automatically by the computer or the app, but here the detail.


The basis is the same, with one twist. First, take your Handicap Index, and adjust for the Slope of the course from the tees you will play. This is the same. Handicap Index X Slope / 113.


The next step is you figure out the Course Rating for the tees you will play related to Par. From the CH above adjust by (Par – Course Rating.) If the tees you will play are higher than par, you will get an increase to your CH. If the rating on your tees is less than par, you will get a reduction in CH.


The calculation is –

Course Handicap = Handicap Index × (Slope Rating ÷ 113) + (Course Rating– Par)


At CommonGround, if you play the Black Tees, you will get 3 extra strokes added to your old Course Handicap. If you play Gold, zero adjustment. If you play the White Tees, you will get 2 strokes taken away from your old Course Handicap.


Pro tip – use the app or



Playing Handicap

Playing Handicap is a term that describes things was in the old system, but is clarified and simplified in the WHS. Depending on the event you are playing and other determinations made by the host Committee, your Course Handicap may be adjusted by a Handicap Allowance.


Playing Handicap = Course Handicap x Handicap Allowance


In a case of a net Fourball event where you get 70%, your PH is your CH x 70%.


Nothing really new, but a definitional change that you will hear from time to time.



Playing Conditions Calculation – “PCC”

This is probably the most notable of the changes to the WHS.


Here is the USGA’s discussion specifically:


“When abnormal course or weather conditions cause scores to be unusually high or low on a given day, a “Playing Conditions Calculation” adjusts Score Differentials to better reflect a player’s actual performance. The “PCC” is:


  • An automatic procedure by the computation service that compares the scores posted on the day against expected scoring patterns,
  • Conservative in nature and applied in integer values, and
  • Applied in the Score Differential calculation of all players – even those who post their score(s) on a later date.”


An automatic adjustment is made by the USGA based on minimum of 8 scores posted on the day of play. If the adjustment comes into play and you post your score later, then your score will be adjusted accordingly. It’s better if everyone posts their scores on the day of play so the “PCC” has more data to evaluate.


That adjustment could be from an “easier” adjustment of -1 to a “harder” adjustment of 1 or 2. This is NOT a determination by any individual, whether it be course or association staff but is a proprietary adjustment made automatically.


It is expected that this adjustment won’t happen very often.


NOTE: Many days recently CommonGround has had -1 adjustments. It’s playing on the easy side with no native, firm conditions, etc. Once we get back to normal (whatever that might look like) and we have summer conditions and we are back to holing a shot to finish a hole, PCC adjustments will occur less often.



That’s all I can muster up for now. There is a lot going on with the WHS so if I need to circle back and put emphasis on a specific issue or two, I will.


If anyone needs a previously posted score updated because you learned some new information here, let me know the date, posted score and the revised score.


Feel free to reply back or inquire at




Andy Harwood

CommonGround Men’s Club

Treasurer / Handicap Chair