Course Handicap and Playing Handicap

Course Handicap

The Course Handicap in WHS (World Handicap System) is the number of handicap strokes a player receives for handicap purposes. It is calculated for each specific set of tees at the course being played. The formula is based on the Handicap Index, the Course Rating (CR) and the Slope Rating (SR).

course handicap in whs
The handicap strokes are awarded per holes² depending on the Stroke Index (abbreviation on scorecards: SI, HCP or HDCP) of a particular hole. The Stroke Index of each golf hole is defined as the difficulty of one hole in comparison to other holes on the same course.
All holes are numbered from 1 to 18. Stroke Index 1 means the hardest hole, while Stroke Index 18 means the easiest one. On 9-hole courses all holes have Stroke Indexes from 1 to 9.

 

Playing Handicap

The Playing Handicap is the number of handicap strokes a side (player or team) receives (or gives) in a handicap competition. It is the percentage of the Course Handicap determined by the Committee in charge of the competition. The Handicap Allowance in a handicap competition must be laid down by the Committee in the conditions under which the competition is to be played.


The handicap strokes are awarded per holes² depending on the Stroke Index of a particular hole.

course playing handicap calculation player

playing handicap calculation team side

 

WHS recommends that the following Playing Handicaps apply in the following forms of play:

  • Singles – The player receives 95% or 100% of his Course Handicap.
  • Four-ball (Better-ball) – Each partner receives 85% or 90% of his Course Handicap.

For some competitions the Committees determine Playing Handicap as 75% or 50% of the Course Handicap.

For handicapping purposes (i.e. handicap adjustment), all acceptable scores must be adjusted basing on 100% of Course Handicap.

 

NOTE:
There is the difference in Course Handicap calculations between the CONGU countries (UK and Ireland) and other countries (Rest of the World ). The difference is in the approach to a par-based adjustment (Course Rating minus Par). CONGU countries do not apply this adjustment, while other countries use the CR and par values in the formula (see picture below).

Course Handicap USGA vs CONGU

 

 

 

 

Calculations for a Team/Side

The Playing Handicap of the team is the number of handicap strokes the side receives (or gives) in a handicap competition. Playing Handicaps in a handicap competition must be laid down by the Committee in the conditions under which the competition is to be played. Usually it is the percentage of the partner’s Course Handicaps.

WHS recommends that the following Playing Handicaps apply in the following forms of play:

A scramble is not played under the principles of The Rules Of Golf, but WHS recommends the following solution:

 

NOTE:
In UK and Ireland a player competing from a set of tees with a different CR/par than other players receives more or fewer strokes for the round. It depends on the difference between the CRs and pars. Therefore, for golfers competing in GB&I there is a separate calculator with the appropriate adjustment in the Playing Handicap calculation .

 

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back to: Handicap

update: April 2021