November 6, 2023

New Golf Handicap System 2023

USGA and R&A announced last year that a new handicap system is ready with a new, joint- and global system.

Around the world of golf, there have been different ways as to how you would calculate one's handicap. But, as of 2020, a new handicap system was implemented and removes the differences – The World Handicap System (WHS).

The new system has been developed by review how it works in:

  • The European Golf Association
  • Golf Australia
  • The Council of National Golf Unions in Great Britain and Ireland
  • South African Golf Association
  • The Argentine Golf Association and USGA

In 15 countries, 52 000 golfers have been asked what they think of the new World Handicap System and 76 percent was positive, 22 neutral and 2 percent showed negative affection towards it.

World Handicap System (WHS)

  • Both competitive and friendly golf rounds will act towards a golfer's handicap.
  • The system will take extraordinary weather into consideration that could have affected a player’s performance when adjusting for handicap.
  • An average of the best 8 out of the latest 20 handicap rounds will lay as grounds for every golfer’s handicap.
  • Daily handicap revisions

An example of a Scorecard. The handicap allows players to "increase" their par on every hole, or add strokes to every hole.

The goal is to get 2 points per hole as 36 points a round means that you are playing on your handicap. (as 18 holes x 2 points = 36).

In this example, on Hole 10, the golfer had 1 extra stroke from his handicap. If the original handicap of 4 would give him 2 points, 5 strokes on this hole will now yield 2 points and 6 strokes 1 point.

This is done on Hole 13, where the golfer got a Bogey and had 1 extra stroke.

How did Golf get its Handicap system?

The handicap system is wisest used as a pin-pointer. People usually deviation from their best performance and hence the handicap number should be seen as an approximate.

When horseracing was evolving and horses raced against each other they received weights that were placed in special pockets on the saddle. The better the horse, the heavier the weights.

You can instantly see similarities to the handicap system in golf. But this evolution was delayed for a few years. The very first stroke-play tournaments in the world (Leith Links in Edinburgh) was formed as a “match play”. Every player had to hole out every hole and everyone played against each other. The player with the most matches won the tournament.

It took another 150 years before we saw a sophisticated handicap system and the one thing everyone could agree with is – the system is there to make the game fun and enjoyable for everyone.

How will golfers be affected by The New Handicap System?

What should I keep in mind as a golfer? Firstly, stay attuned here at PineClubGolf. We continuously provide updates on both new golf rules, new handicap systems and lots of other interesting news and reviews relating to golf.

Secondly, you should register as many golf rounds as possible to make your new handicap as representative of your level of golf as possible. Your rounds during 2018 and 2019 will be added to the pool of 20 rounds so make sure to register both good and bad rounds.

This will probably mean that more golfers will have a handicap that more accurately matches their level of golf – and must be a good thing!

Read more on the World Handicap System at “RANDA” here.

Check out our extensive Review of The Best Golf Drivers where we list both budget options, Top Picks and Runner Up. We have also included a complete buyers guide for what you must consider when looking to invest in a new driver.

Golf Handicap Average

As Handicap started off as a means to even out the game for experienced golfers and beginners, it slowly became a thing of a lot of prestige. It's not uncommon the come across either golfer who brags about their low handicap or golfers who have purposely not lowered their handicap enough in order to do well on i.e. competitions with a generous price table.

All this aside - what is then the average handicap when it comes to golfers? USGA did research of all active golfers with 36 or lower and this is what they found:

 As you can see in the graph, the handicap with the most golfers is 14 and 27% of golfers are in the range of 12-16. Furthermore, around 20% of golfers are in the single-digits.

Of course, the handicap is not a perfect number to hold on to as a lot of players never manage to play on their handicap level.

Looking for Golf Clubs at your level?

"Beginner golf clubs are often called “Game-improvement irons” and aids the golfer in terms of forgiveness and distance. This often reduces “control” in the shot, why better golfers would prefer blades or forged clubs that are less forgiving but add control.

We highly recommend every new golfer (or with higher handicaps) to look for game-improvement irons to improve your game and add forgiveness to poor strikes. This is extra true for golfers who stopped playing years ago and now try to pick up golf again – but with your old clubs!"

>>>  "Best Golf Iron Clubs for Beginners 2023"<<<

About the author 

Emma Johnson

I have been playing golf for over 20 years and I am crazy about all thing Golf equipment! I'm currently playing TaylorMade M6 Irons and TaylorMade M4 Driver. I just started playing with the Bridgestone RXS Tour golf balls. I currently play on HCP 6 and I'm mostly playing for fun at the moment, after playing some tournaments on the Amateur Tour and in local championships. I have worked part-time with TaylorMade and I really love their products. Send me an e-mail at or leave a comment down below if you want to get in contact with me!

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