Alabama
Golf Association

Serving & Promoting Amateur Golf in Alabama Since 1915

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Five Things to Know: World Handicap System

HOOVER, Ala. (November 14, 2019) – The World Handicap System is set to debut on January 1, 2020 (score posting will begin on January 6) and will allow golfers to play on an equitable and fair basis around the globe. This new system will include a number of new concepts and terms for golfer around the world to learn. 

Here are five things to know:

1. Your Handicap Index may change

But that’s ok! Finally, players around the world will have an apples-to-apples handicap. Your new Handicap Index will be more responsive to good scores by averaging your eight best score out of your most recent 20 (currently, it’s 10 out of 20 with a .96 multiplier). In short, your Handicap Index will be determined by your demonstrated ability and the consistency of scores. In most cases for golfers in the U.S., it will change less than one stroke. 

2. You need to know your Course Handicap

In the new system, your Course Handicap will be the number of strokes needed to play to par. This will result in greater variance in that number and presents a change, as historically it has represented the number of strokes needed to play to the Course Rating. This is a good thing, as par is an easy number to remember. Target score for the day? Par plus Course Handicap. The Course Rating will now be inherent within the calculation to be more intuitive and account for competing from different tees. 

3. Net Double Bogey

The maximum hole score for each player will be limited to a Net Double Bogey. This adjustment is more consistent from hole to hole than the Equitable Stroke Control procedure. Net Double Bogey is already used in many other parts of the world and the calculation is simple: Par + 2 + any handicap strokes you receive. 

4. Your Handicap Index will be revised daily

One way that handicapping is being modernized is a player’s Handicap Index will update daily (which will provide a fairer indication of a player’s ability in the moment), if the player submitted a score the day before. On days where the player does not submit a score, no update will take place. 

5. Safeguards in the new system

The new system will limit extreme upward movement of a Handicap Index, automatically and immediately reduce a Handicap Index when an exceptional score of at least 7 strokes better is posted, and account for abnormal course or weather conditions to ensure that scores reflect when a course plays significantly different than its established Course Rating and Slope Rating. These safeguards help maintain accuracy of a Handicap Index, greater integrity within the system and promote fun and fair play for golfers of all abilities.

Questions, please contact the Alabama Golf Association at /Blog/302258/Five-Things-to-Know-World-Handicap-System or call 205-979-1234.

About the Alabama Golf Association (AGA)

The Alabama Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational organization founded in 1915 whose mission is to serve and promote amateur golf in Alabama. AGA membership consists of over 130 member clubs represented by over 19,000 individuals. The activities and services of the Alabama Golf Association are governed by a Board of Directors consisting of Alabama golfers who wish to serve the game and the association through service.

AGA is the USGA's liaison for golf in Alabama conducting national championship qualifying, administering the USGA Handicap system including the GHIN Handicap service, course & slope rating and education. The AGA annually conducts 20 championships and team match competitions for men, women, juniors, and seniors. The AGA also conducts Alabama high school golf championships and assists with many collegiate events including the SEC Men's Golf Championship. In addition to competitions, the AGA administers the AGA Women's Scholarship Fund that is dedicated to assisting young female golfers in higher education and supports the Alabama Turfgrass Research Foundation.


Since 1980, the AGA has managed the affairs of the Southern Golf Association which includes conducting the Southern Amateur Championship and Southern Junior Championship, in conjunction with the Board of Directors of the Southern Golf Association.

For more information about the Alabama Golf Association, visit www.alabamagolf.org.