The roll out of the World Handicap System, WHS, has been moved to 5th February to give room for fresh calibration of the ladies course rating. This follows the realization that the universal rating system employed by The USGA had disadvantaged lady golfers in Kenya by failing to take into consideration the huge difference in altitude variation of golf courses in the country.
Speaking at a press briefing today, Kenya Golf Union Chairman Ben Omuodo however confirmed that the WHS roll out is on course after all the 36 clubs that were rated submitted all the requisite data. “All that is left at the moment is for Club Systems International, to integrate this with all the golfers’ records to come up with the new handicap index for all golfers,” Omuodo said.
WHS was launched in January 2020 in USA, South Africa and several countries in Europe and was initially scheduled to be launched in Kenya in September 2020. After missing last year’s global migration deadline due to delays in completion of the course rating process occasioned by coronavirus effects, KGU had targeted to switch to WHS from 1st February 2021.
Omuodo said the ongoing handicap freeze that commenced on 15th January will be extended to 4th February 2021.
The four-day extension is to allow for the realignment of data sets for lady golfers Slope Rating- a numerical value that indicates the relative difficulty of a golf course for a bogey golfer in comparison to a scratch golfer. Each sets of tees have now been allocated a Slope Rating for men and women.
“The case of Kenya is very unique. Our courses at the coast lie at less than 100 feet above sea level while Nyahururu which is at an altitude of 8,000 feet above sea level is the highest point. The difference in altitude in most countries is less than 2500 feet. So having a uniform slope rating for lady scratch and bogey golfers was going to be very unfair,” said Vincent Wang’ombe, the chairman of the Kenya Unified Handicapping and Course Rating Committee.
Ahead of the launch, KGU is preparing Course Handicap Conversion Tables that will guide players on the handicaps to play off on different courses. “Every player will have a portable Handicap Index which is basically your golfing ability. When you play on any course, you will play off a different handicap depending the set of tees you select. The minimum a course can have is two sets of tees and each set is treated as a different course,” said Wang’ombe.
Yesterday KGU organized a training session for Golf Administrators and Handicap Convenors from all clubs in Kenya. The training was conducted by Club Systems International and The R&A.
WHS will provide golfers with a “unified and more inclusive” handicapping system, unifying six handicapping systems. Developed by The R&A and USGA, it provides golfers a Handicap Index, which is a measure of their ability, and a Course Handicap which reflects the difficulty of the golf course being played. The player Handicap Index is calculated based on the average of the best scores for eight rounds from the most recent 20 submitted rounds of golf. It has a maximum handicap limit of 54.0, regardless of gender.