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World Handicap System: Six things that you should never forget

  • February 18, 2021
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Golfers in Kenya are now expected to start using their handicap indices under the new World Handicap Systems. The Kenya Golf Union has given clubs the green light to “enter competitions in the system” and clear the backlog occasioned by the month-long handicap freeze.

Here is some crucial Q&A user information that you should always have, to enjoy playing under the new order:

Do I have to calculate my playing handicap?

No. You only need to know your handicap index which is provided through your club’s portal. Proceed to convert it to a course handicap for the course and tees you are playing using a Handicap Conversion Table available at the Starter’s hut or an app.

You can also do it manually: Course Handicap = Handicap Index X (Slope Rating/113) + (Course Rating – Par).

How is the course difficulty determined?

The difficulty of a course is indicated by a course rating. This is a representation of the number of strokes a scratch golfer is expected to take under normal playing conditions. Always take note that the course rating affects a player’s index far more than the slope rating number.

Slope rating measures the difficulty of a set of tees for the average bogey golfer (20 for men; 24 for women) compared to the scratch golfer. It indicates the standard difficulty of a golf course for the “bogey golfer” relative to the scratch player.

Will I be able to play off any tee?

Yes. A player can return scores from any tee that has a gender specific course and slope rating. Every set of tees will have a slope rating and those numbers will vary between 55 and 155. The higher the slope rating, the greater the difference expected between the scores of those scratch and bogey golfers. The “neutral” slope of 113 is considered to be a course of “standard playing difficulty”.

How much can a handicap index increase or decrease under the World Handicap System?

There is no limit by which a player’s handicap index can drop. A soft cap will be used to suppress any “abnormal “increase when the difference between a player’s newly-calculated handicap index and their lowest handicap index in the last 12-month period is greater than three. This is to ensure that a player’s handicap index reflects their underlying ability, rather than a bad run of form.  A hard cap will also limit extreme upward movements to five strokes.

Will there still be a competition standard scratch (CSS) score?

No. A playing conditions calculation (PCC) will be used to adjust score differentials when abnormal course conditions cause scores to be unusually high or low e.g. weather conditions and course set-up.  This will be based on how players have performed compared to their expected performance on that golf course.

Will there still be exceptional scoring reductions (ESR)?

Yes.  ESR will be applicable when a player submits a score that produces a score differential that is seven strokes or more below their handicap index.


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