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WHS™ 2024: Treatment of Hole(s) Not PlayedFAQs and Example Application

As of January 2024, expected score is used for any unplayed holes.


The following FAQs have been developed to explain how 10-17 hole rounds are treated for handicap purposes under the 2024 update to the World Handicap System™:


What changed about the way 10–17-hole scores are treated in 2024?

Prior to January 2024, when 10 to 13 holes were played, scores made on holes 10 through 13 were disregarded and a 9-hole score was posted. When 14-17 holes were played, net par was used for the remaining holes to allow an 18-hole score to be posted.

Now, when a player with a Handicap Index® plays 10-17 holes, a Score Differential™ is created based on the holes played, and the player’s expected Score Differential for the number of remaining holes not played is added to that value to produce an 18-hole Score Differential.

To facilitate this change, when a player plays between 10-17 holes, they are required to post their scores hole-by-hole so the appropriate Score Differential can be calculated from the holes that were played to combine with the expected score for the holes not played.


What are the benefits of this change?

Although 10–17-hole rounds are uncommon for most players and are typically a result of circumstances such as darkness, inclement weather, or match play, this change results in a premium being placed on the holes played, more flexibility in terms of posting scores, and more accurate Score Differentials. Here’s why:

  • Prior to 2024, scores made on holes 10-13 were disregarded if fewer than 14 holes are played. The change adds flexibility by allowing scores made on those holes to be used to create an 18-hole Score Differential. 
  • When 14-17 holes were played, net par was used on any remaining holes not played. By replacing net par with the use of expected score to produce an 18-hole Score Differential, players will see more equity and consistency – since the expected score is not course-specific or reliant upon the course’s stroke index allocation.


Note: Expected score is the default position for holes not played. However, net par may be an option in very limited circumstances subject to approval from the local Allied Golf Association. The Handicap Committee/golf club will be responsible for communicating to all golfers when net par should be applied.


Here is an example of how an 18-hole Score Differential is calculated after a player stopped play after 14 holes:

A player with a Handicap Index of 10.0 plays 14 holes before stopping play due to severe weather. Through 14 holes, the player had an adjusted gross score of 64. After posting the 14-hole score hole-by-hole, a Score Differential will be calculated based on the score of 64 and the Course Rating information for the 14 holes played, and that result will be added to the expected Score Differential over 4 holes for a 10.0 Handicap Index player to determine an 18-hole Score Differential.


How did this change impact the score-posting procedure?

When posting a score, players now have the option to post a 9-hole score, 18-hole score, or 10-17-hole score. Score posting products will notify the player that if they are posting a score in which 10-17 holes were played, the player will be required to post as a hole-by-hole score. This allows USGA® Centralized Computation to produce a Score Differential for the holes played and an expected Score Differential for the number of holes that were not played.

Note that score posting products require a minimum of 9 individual hole scores that correspond to a 9-hole Course Rating™ and Slope Rating™ for a score to be posted.


How is a player’s score displayed in their scoring record when a 10–17-hole score is posted?

When 10-17 holes are played and a score is posted, the total number of strokes taken will be displayed, with the number of holes played also denoted. Display of the number of holes played could vary depending on the score posting product used.  For example, if the player plays 14 holes and takes 64 total strokes, their score will be displayed as 64 (14). Players will also see the 18-hole Course Rating and Slope Rating for the tees played, along with the 18-hole Score Differential that was created using the player’s expected score for the holes not played.


If someone plays 10-17 holes, will it count as 18 holes for the purposes of establishing a Handicap Index?

When establishing a Handicap Index, or building up to 54 holes played and posted, if a player plays between 10 and 17 holes, the score made on the 9 holes with a 9-hole Course Rating and Slope Rating would be posted for handicap purposes. Any remaining holes would be disregarded.