1.1 Purpose of the 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 (see Diagram 1.1).
  • 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.