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Rules of Handicapping FAQs

Handicap Competitions

Q. Under the World Handicap System™, should there be an additional adjustment in four-ball stroke play when partners have a large difference in Course Handicap™?

A. In Four-Ball Stroke Play, the recommended handicap allowance is 85%. Assuming there are no other Terms of the competition that might impact a player’s Playing Handicap™, it will be equal to the unrounded Course Handicap multiplied by the handicap allowance, with the final step to round to the nearest whole number.

One of the recommendations under the previous USGA Handicap System (not in use since 2019) was to try to keep the difference between partners’ Course Handicaps to 8 strokes or less. If this difference could not be avoided, then an additional 10% reduction for both partners was encouraged.

However, with Four-Ball Stroke Play having a lower handicap allowance under the WHS™ (85% for all players) as compared to the previous USGA Handicap System (90% for men and 95% for women), the 8-stroke limit between partners is not necessary to produce equity among teams of various handicap levels. As a result, it is no longer recommended to assign an additional reduction if partners have more than an 8-stroke difference in their Course Handicaps.