World Handicap System™


The World Handicap System includes the Rules of Handicapping and the Course Rating System. Its purpose is to enhance the enjoyment of the game of golf and to give as many golfers as possible the opportunity to:

  • Obtain and maintain a Handicap Index,
  • Use their Handicap Index on any golf course around the world, and
  • Compete, or play a casual round, with anyone else on a fair and equitable basis.

This is achieved by:

  • Establishing Course Ratings and Slope Ratings for each set of tees, based on length and playing difficulty.
  • Applying adjustments to a Handicap Index to reflect the golf course being played and the format of play.
  • Assessing the impact of playing conditions, using players’ scores on a specific day and applying adjustments when necessary.
  • Limiting the maximum hole score for handicap purposes to ensure a Handicap Index continues to reflect a player’s demonstrated ability.
  • Applying a uniform calculation for updating a Handicap Index for all acceptable scores submitted.
  • Updating a Handicap Index on a daily basis, or soon thereafter.
  • Reviewing a player’s Handicap Index on a regular basis to ensure it continues to reflect the player’s demonstrated ability.

History and Revision

The World Handicap System™ (WHS) was introduced in 2020, unifying the six handicapping systems used around the world into a single system. The WHS enables golfers of different abilities to play and compete on a fair and equitable basis, no matter how or where they play.

The first revision of the WHS took effect in January 2024, with modifications made to enhance the system and ensure that players can continue to compete on an equitable basis with any other player. To read more about the specific changes in 2024, click here.

For complete information on the World Handicap System and how it integrates with the Rules of Handicapping, use the button on this page titled “Rules of Handicapping” to view the entire document. Still have questions? Reach out to us at