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World Handicap System™: 3 Key Changes for 2024

By Terry Benjamin

| Jan 16, 2024

The first revision to the WHS™ took place in January 2024 and includes three key changes


Introduced in January 2020, the World Handicap System was based upon three key principles: Be welcoming, provide a consistent measure of ability, and remain modern. Four years later, with the first revision to the WHS, those same principles apply to the main changes in effect, namely:


1)  A lower minimum length for a golf course to obtain a Course Rating™ and Slope Rating™

Before 2024, an 18-hole course had to be at least 3,000 yards to receive a Course Rating and Slope Rating (or 1,500 yards for 9 holes).

With the 2024 WHS Revision, the yardage requirements have been cut in half, to 1,500 and 750 yards, respectively. This is good news for golfers who regularly play par-3 and shorter-length courses and have wanted those scores to count toward their Handicap Index®.

2)  A new treatment of 9-hole scores

In 2023 and previous years, 9-hole scores were combined in the order posted to create an 18-hole Score Differential™. This meant that a 9-hole score could have been combined with another 9-hole score from days, weeks, or even months before – which at times lead to volatile results.

Today, when a player posts a 9-hole score, it is combined with their expected Score Differential over 9 holes to create an 18-hole Score Differential for immediate use – with expected score based on the player’s Handicap Index at the time the round is played as well as a course of standard difficulty.

3)  An updated approach for holes not played

Prior to 2024, when a hole was not played (due to darkness, for example), the score recorded was a net par.

With the 2024 revision, when 10-17 holes are played, an 18-hole Score Differential is determined by adding the player’s Score Differential from the holes played to an expected Score Differential for the number of holes not played. Since a player’s expected score is not specific to a course or reliant upon the course’s stroke index allocation (as net par was previously), this will lead to more consistency.

To learn more about the World Handicap System, visit