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The World Handicap System

The World Handicap System (WHS) was launched in January 2020 to replace the six different systems that were previously in use around the world.

The Oman Golf Association moved from the USGA Handicap System to WHS in May 2020 and in doing so also became part of the USGA's Golf Handicap Information Network (GHIN). GHIN is one of the largest handicap management tools in the world serving more that 2.3 million golfers. 

Developed by The R&A and USGA in close coordination with existing handicapping authorities, the WHS provides golfers with a more inclusive handicapping system with a consistent measure of playing ability and handicaps calculated in the same way wherever they are in the world.


WHS Frequently Asked Questions

What is the World Handicap System all about?

Beginning in 2020, the WHS unifies six different handicap systems that were used around the world into a single system that enables golfers of different abilities to play and compete on a fair basis, in any format, on any course, anywhere in the world. Oman adopted WHS in May 2020.

What are the benefits of the World Handicap System?

Following the transition to WHS, Handicap Index calculations will be consistent for all players, making a Handicap Index directly comparable to all other players around the world. Having a consistent method of calculation will assist with the administration of international events and will allow the on-going health of the game globally to be monitored more accurately.

How does WHS make golf more accessible and inclusive?

The World Handicap System has been designed to be as accessible and inclusive as possible. A Handicap Index can be obtained after returning a minimum of three 18 hole scores, or six 9 hole scores, adn the maximum Handicap Index will be 54.0 regardless of gender. These measures are designed to provide a clear pathway into the game enabling those new to the sport to feel more welcomed.

How do I get a Handicap Index?

To obtain and maintain a Handicap Index you will first need to establish an Oman Golf Association Membership, this can be done through your home club or, if you are not a member of one of the golf clubs in Oman, directly through the OGA. Once you are a member of the OGA you will receive a GHIN number and a link to the GHIN scoring app where you will post your scores. To establish your initial Handicap Index you will need to submit three 18 hole scores, or six 9 hole scores.

How many scores do I have to post to get a Handicap Index?

In order to establlish a Handicap Index a total of 54 holes must be played and posted to your scoring record through the GHIN app or website. These scores can be made up of any combination of 9 or 18 hole rounds.

When do I get my Handicap Index?

All scores are updated overnight so your initial Handicap Index will be issued the day after your last score is posted.

On the first tee someone asks me what my handicap is, what do I tell them?

You should start with your Handicap Index as this forms the basis for your Course and Playing Handicaps. Your Course Handicap is the actual number of strokes you will need to play any given course (that has a Course and Slope Rating) to par, your GHIN app will give you this information by selecting the course and the tees that you are playing from.

What is peer review and why is it important?

Peer review is the process by which a player's score or Handicap Index can be confirmed or challenged. Peer review is normally conducted by someone playing in the same group during a round and is most applicable to social play as in tournament play the signing of scorecards represents peer review. In order to allow peer review scores should be posted as soon as possible after a round, the score is then visible to other golfers through the GHIN app or website. Challenges or disputes can be raised with the player in question or reported to the golf club where the player is a member for consideration.

I recently posted a score but my Handicap Index has not changed. Why?

Once you have 20 scores in your scoring record your Handicap Index is calculated by averaging your 8 best Score Differentials out of your most recent 20. If your Handicap Index remains unchanged after posting a score it is most likely that the same 8 scores are still being used in your best 8 of 20 calculation.

How is a Handicap Index calculated?

Once you have 20 scores in your scoring record your Handicap Index is calculated by averaging the best 8 Score Differentials out of the most recent 20 scores. However, this value may be adjusted due to built in safeguards when you submit an exceptional score (7 strokes or greater better than your Handicap Index) or your 8 out of 20 calculation is 3 strokes or greater better than your low index from the previous 365 days. Should either of these adjustments be made they will be clearly shown in your scoring record.

What is the Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC)?

At the end of each day the PCC takes place automatically to determine if scores made at a course were significantly higher or lower than normal due to weather or course set up. Assuming a minimum of 8 rounds have been recorded by players with a Handicap Index of 36.0 or less an adjustment is made if scores were abnormally high or low. The adjustment is applied to the Score Differential and can be between -1 and +3, a negative (-) adjustment means the course played easier and a positive adjustment (+) means the course played more difficult. A PCC of 0 means that the course played as expected, which is generally the case.

I forgot to post my score the day I played. Will I still get the PCC adjustment?

The PCC takes place at midnight every day so if your score was posted after midnight it will not be included in the calculation - however, the score would still be subject to any resulting PCC adjustment as long as the correct date played is posted.

What is the maximum hole score for handicap posting purposes?

If you have a Handicap Index the maximum score for each hole played is limited to a net double bogey, that is a double bogey plus any handicap strokes you are entitled to on that hole based on your Course Handicap. If you post your scores hole by hole through the GHIN app or website this adjustment is made for you. For players posting scores to establish their first Handicap Index the maximum hole score is set as Par +5.

I started a hole but did not complete it. What score should I post?

Sometimes the format of play allows you to start a hole but not to complete it, in this instance the score posted for handicap purposes should be your most likely score. A most likely score is defined as a reasonable assessment made by you based on the score you are most likely to make from that sport more than half the time.

I did not play a hole. What score do I post?

When a hole is not played, for example due to darkness, the score recorded for handicap purposes is a net Par (the Par of the hole plus any handicap strokes you are entitled to based on your Course Handicap).

How many holes do I have to play to post an acceptable score?

For a 9 hole score to be posted at least 7 holes must be played. For an 18 hole score to be posted at least 14 holes must be played. If more than 9 but fewer than 14 holes are played you must post a 9 hole score.

What is the difference between a Course Handicap and Playing Handicap?

Your Course Handicap represents the number of strokes needed to play to par of the tees being played. A Playing Handicap is the actual number of strokes you receive or give based on the format of competition or game being played. In individual strokeplay both the Course Handicap and Playing Handicap are often the same, however in Matchplay or Better Ball formats a handicap allowance is often applied, changing the Playing Handicap accordingly.

How do I calculate my Course Handicap and Playing Handicap?

The easiest way to obtain your Course Handicap is through the GHIN app, website or kiosk. But for those of you who wish to see that maths the formula is: Course Handicap = Handicap Index x (Slope Rating / 113) + (Course Rating - Par) This is rounded to the nearest whole number to give a Course Handicap. If a Playing Handicap is required the unrounded number is subject to the handicap allowance before being rounded to the nearest whole number.

When players compete from different tees do we have to make any adjustments?

As a Course Handicap represents the number of strokes needed to play to Par no further adjustments are needed when playing from different tees, the only time an adjustment is needed is if players are competing from tees with different Pars.

I accidentally posted a wrong score, how can I change it?

Once a score has been posted to GHIN it cannot be changed by the player themselves, however your home club can easily adjust or delete a score for you.

I played a round by myself, why can't I post the score?

Peer review is the process by which a score or Handicap Index can be confirmed or challenged, when rounds are played without another person present the process cannot be completed and therefore these rounds cannot be counted.

What formats are acceptable for posting scores?

In Oman any scores recorded in a format where you are playing your own ball are acceptable for posting. This includes individual strokeplay, fourball strokeplay, matchplay, stableford. It does not include rounds where; you are being coached on the course, you are using non conforming equipment, the number or type of clubs are restricted, your score cannot be verified by another person, you do not play the required number of holes, you are not playing your own ball, for example in a scramble.

What are handicap allowances and why are they used to calculate a Playing Handicap?

A handicap allowance is a percentage of a Course Handicap recommended to create equity based on the format of play. Since higher handicap players typically have more variance in their scores and an increased potential to shoot lower net scores at any given hole, in certain formats using a full Course Handicap often places those with lower Course Handicaps at a disadvantage. By taking a percentage of the Course Handicaps the higher handicap players are impacted more and therefore the expected scores for all players should be at a more consistent level. This is generally applied in team formats.

When playing a multi round competition should a Handicap Index be updated between rounds?

For ease of administration it is recommended that the Handicap Index at the start of the competition be used for subsequent rounds, assuming that the rounds are played on consecutive days.

Should matchplay scores be posted even if I do not hole out on every hole?

Yes, when a hole is started but a player does not hole out the player must record their most likely score for handicap purposes. If a match ends with holes left to play and the players do not play the remaining holes then net par should be recorded for the remaining holes assuming at least 7 or 14 holes are played.

There is a player at my club who always plays well in net events and wins often, are there provisions in place to ensure that everyone is playing on a fair level?

There are several safeguards in place to ensure the integrity of a player's Handicap Index, there are limits to exteme upward movements over a rolling 365 day period and an exceptional score reduction that reduces a player's Handicap Index each time they post a score with a Differential at least 7.0 strokes below thier Handicap Index. Each club along with the OGA has reporting tools that can provide additional insight into players performances and modifications to a player's Handicap Index can be made accordingly.

I am a member at multiple clubs, why do I have to designate a "home club"?

You must have a designated home club to ensure that your Handicap Index is managed in accordance with the Rules of Handicapping. The selection of a home club should be based upon where you play most golf. Each club that you are a member of will have access to your scoring record but it will be your home club that is responsible for making any adjustments to your Handicap Index.

What is a Course Rating and what does it represent?

A Course Rating represents the score a scratch player, with a handicap of 0.0, should achieve on a golf course under normal conditions.

What is a Slope Rating and what does it represent?

Playing length and obstacles impact higher handicap players more than lower handicap players, Slope Rating measures the relative difficulty of a golf course for players who are not scratch players (handicap 0.0) compared to those who are scratch players. Slope is determined by compating the Course Rating to the Bogey Rating. A course of standard difficulty has a Slope Rating of 113, a more difficult course carries a higher Slope Rating.

Fundamentals of Handicapping

Handicap Index Calculation

Handicap Index Safeguards

Adjustment of Hole Scores

Course Handicap and Playing Handicap

Posting Scores

Handicap Competitions

Handicap Committee

The Golf Course


WHS Video Resources