World Handicap System

Introduction to the World Handicap System

The following is an overview of how the WHS works. We will go into more detail in our next segment when we discuss the various terminologies and how, for example, Slope Ratings, Course Handicaps etc. are calculated, but for now we hope that this introduction coupled with the information videos will give you a starting basis. Please don’t forget to consult the Golf Ireland WHS Presentation and Frequently asked Questions information already posted to the site.

Our current Congu handicaps are worked out using an aggregate system eg. when we enter a score above our buffer zone we get .1 added to our handicap, if we have an accumulation of .1’s these .1’s are aggregated and our playing handicap increases. With the WHS this will change to an average based calculation i.e. WHS will take an average of the best eight scores from our last twenty scores entered to our playing record and this average will become our Handicap Index.

Key to the new system is Course Rating. A Course Rating evaluates the difficulty of a course for scratch golfers under normal conditions. The Course Rating (as rated by Golf Ireland) for our men’s blue tees is 71.7 and for our women’s red tees 73.2 – this means that a male scratch golfer playing under normal conditions would be expected to shoot a score of 0.7 over the 71 par and a lady golfer 0.8 under the par of 74. A Bogey Rating is calculated in the same way for bogey golfers (assumed to be around 20 handicap for men and 24 for women).

The Slope Rating is a number that indicates the relative difficulty of a course for bogey golfers compared to scratch golfers. It is a combination of the two, Course Rating and Bogey Rating, that allows the calculation of the Slope Rating.

When we turn up to play, we will measure our Handicap Index against the Slope Rating of the course, from the tees that we are playing, and this will give us our Course Handicap. This will be automatically calculated for you, but you can also refer to the Course Handicap Tables (see example below) which will be prominently displayed throughout the Club. This Course Handicap will be converted to a Playing Handicap determined by the format of the competition being played.

Sample Handicap table for Men’s Blue Tees


On the 2nd of November your existing Congu handicap will automatically be converted into a Handicap Index. (New members applying for a handicap will still need to submit 54 holes of scores to get their handicap index). Following that and for handicap purposes, any round that is an authorised form of play, that is played to the Rules of Golf, is in the company of one other person and is certified by the marker (covid protocols apply) will be classed as an acceptable score for handicapping purposes. This means that both competition scores and pre-registered social scores can be entered for submission to your handicap record and go towards the calculation of your Handicap Index. Please note that normal Rules of Golf will apply and so such competitive and social scores must be played during the active season.

A key part of the WHS is the greater number of scorecards submitted, the more accurate your Handicap Index will be. You are not compelled however to enter a score every time you play a social round. Also, bear in mind that, because there are no longer buffer zones or .1’s back, you won’t feel under any pressure about getting .1 back if your round is not going well, such a score will just not be applied to your eight best scores and so your Handicap Index will not be altered.

The WHS will automatically update daily and so your Handicap Index will always be current.

In our next segment we will go into a little more technical detail but for now we hope that this will give you some information and whet your appetite for more!

Calculating Your Course Handicap

Following on from our Introduction to the WHS we thought it would be a good idea to discuss some of the new terms that we are all hearing about, terms that may be a bit confusing at the moment  but will become second nature with time. There are many many new aspects to WHS (the WHS Rules of Handicapping book runs to 119 pages!) however we are going to talk about those that are most relevant to the calculation of your all important course handicap. Grab a cup of tea and something to keep the sugar levels up…this will require your concentration!!!

Lets begin with the course rating:

Course Rating

As we touched on in our ‘Introduction to the WHS’ segment, the course rating measures the playing difficulty of a course for a scratch golfer in normal playing conditions. The rating is assessed by Golf Ireland raters who look at various factors such as the length of the course (allowing for dog legs, ponds etc.) and obstacles encountered like all of our beautiful but dreaded trees, slopes, rough etc.

Bogey Rating

The raters also calculate how many strokes a bogey golfer (around 20 for men and 24 for women) will take to play the same course. By definition a bogey golfer will not hit the ball as far as a scratch golfer and will have a different playing experience, more often encountering different obstacles like those trees! etc.

Knowing the course rating and bogey rating enables the slope rating to be determined.

Slope Rating

The slope rating is key to determining how many strokes a player will receive when playing any particular golf course from any set of tees. Slope ratings can range from 55 for the easier course up to 155 for the most difficult of courses. Our men’s blue tees have a slope rating of 124 and for the women’s red tees it is 120. The R&A and the USGA have determined that a course of standard playing difficulty would have a slope rating of 113.

To calculate the slope rating the formula used is;

Bogey rating – course rating x 5.381 (for men) or 4.24 (for women)

So as an example for men, and not specific to our own course;

95 – 72 x 5.381 = 123.76 rounded to 124

And for women;

102 – 74 x 4.24 = 118.72 rounded to 119

The course handicap for a player is determined by the course rating, adjusted by the slope rating for their handicap index – quite a mouthfull! Having looked at course rating and slope rating lets look at the handicap index and put it all together.

Handicap Index

Your handicap index measures your playing ability. It is calculated using an average of the best 8 eight scores from your last 20 rounds. When you enter a new score, your handicap index will be automatically updated so that your new score becomes part of your 20 most recent scores. This update takes place overnight after you have submitted your score so that your index will always be current.

On November 2nd, your new handicap index will automatically be generated based on your existing playing records. If you have less than 20 scores available in your record to calculate a handicap index, a sliding scale is automatically used. For new golfers to get a handicap index they will have to submit a minimum of 54 holes (using any combination of 9 and 18 holes).

Armed  with our Course Rating, our Slope Rating and our Handicap Index – we are now ready to calculate our Course Handicap.

A Course Handicap will determine the strokes that you will receive when playing from any set of tees on any given course. To arrive at your course handicap the calculation is as follows;

Handicap Index x (slope rating / 113)

So for example, a Lady member with a handicap index of 19.4 playing off our red tees would have a course handicap as follows;

19.4 x (120 / 113) = 20.60 rounded to 21

A male member with a handicap index of 16.2 playing off our blue tees would have a course handicap as follows;

16.2 x (124/113) = 17.77 rounded to 18

Don’t be too worried about these calculations as the club software will calculate it for you and also you can refer to the Course Handicap Tables which will allow you to cross reference your handicap index to find your course handicap. These tables will be available at all courses so you will always be able to check your course handicap easily prior to playing.

For examples please refer to Course Handicap tables

In competitions there will also be a playing handicap allowance eg. 95% for singles stroke etc. but we will refer to that in the segment which will discuss ‘what to do before, during and after your round’.

Remember that you can always refer to the GUI presentations and frequently asked questions sections on our site for further information or go to

We are waiting to see what the changes are to our Convenor Handicap software before uploading this segment as it may impact on sign in etc. but don’t worry we will provide you with this information well in advance of the return to competitive golf.

Click here to view Golf Ireland Player Presentation

Click here to see Golf Ireland’s Frequently Asked questions.

Our Course Handicap Tables

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