Quantitative research was conducted in 15 countries around the world, through which 76 percent of the 52,000 respondents voiced their support for a World Handicap System, 22 percent were willing to consider its benefits, and only 2 percent were opposed. This was followed by a series of focus groups, in which more than 300 golf administrators and golfers from regions around the world offered extensive feedback on the features of the proposed new system.
This feedback has helped shape the WHS, which has been developed by the USGA and The R&A with support from each handicapping authority as well as the Japan Golf Association and Golf Canada.
Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA, commented, “For some time, we’ve heard golfers say, ‘I’m not good enough to have a handicap,’ or ‘I don’t play enough to have a handicap.’ We want to make the right decisions now to encourage a more welcoming and social game. We’re excited to be taking another important step – along with modernizing golf’s Rules – to provide a pathway into the sport, making golf easier to understand and more approachable and enjoyable for everyone to play.”
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “We are working with our partners and national associations to make golf more modern, more accessible and more enjoyable as a sport and the new World Handicap System represents a huge opportunity in this regard.
“We want to make it more attractive to golfers to obtain a handicap and strip away some of the complexity and variation which can be off-putting for newcomers. Having a handicap, which is easier to understand and is truly portable around the world, can make golf much more enjoyable and is one of the unique selling points of our sport.”
The tenets of the new system focus on three main objectives: to encourage as many golfers as possible to obtain and maintain a handicap; to enable golfers of differing abilities, genders and nationalities to transport their handicap to any course globally and compete on a fair and equitable basis; and to indicate with sufficient accuracy the score a golfer is reasonably capable of achieving on any course around the world, playing under normal conditions.
Given worldwide alignment towards a single system, all parties will now embark on a two-year transition period targeting implementation in 2020. When adopted, the World Handicap System will be governed by the USGA and The R&A and administered locally by the six existing authorities and national associations around the world, with safeguards included to ensure consistency as well as adaptability to differing golf cultures.
The six handicapping authorities represent approximately 15 million golfers in 80 countries who currently maintain a golf handicap.
The announcement is the latest step in a multi-year collaboration between The USGA and The R&A, as well as handicap authorities and national and regional golf associations around the world to introduce one set of Rules of Handicapping, aimed to support modernizing, growing and improving accessibility of the sport.
As an extension of their support of the Rules of Golf worldwide, Rolex has made a commitment to support the USGA’s and The R&A’s efforts to implement a World Handicap System.
To provide feedback to the USGA on the new World Handicap System, email us at email@example.com, (link sends e-mail)or see usga.org/whs.