The USGA, and the rest of the world golf associations, have agreed on a new system for handicaps that applies to all golfers worldwide. Although there are quite a few changes, for a full list and explanation of why, read the summary provided by the USGA The World Handicap System. Those we’ve listed here are the ones we think will be of most interest to you. They fall into 5 categories:
The handicap index is the basis for all the other handicap calculations. In the 2020 system the handicap index will be calculated using the best 8 out of 20 scores, instead of 10. Here’s where it gets tricky. A “Playing Conditions Calculation” will be included to account for abnormal course or weather conditions – no clue as to how this will work in practice.
The handicap index is currently updated twice a month. It will now be updated daily, which means that every time you play your handicap index may change. Which in turns means your course handicap may also change daily. I’ve not heard much on how golf courses will manage daily updating.
How course handicaps are calculated will change to include an adjustment to the old formula. This adjustment is: (Course Rating (from the tees you play) minus The Par of your course (e.g. 72). The new formula is:
Course Handicap = (Handicap Index x (Slope Rating/113)) + (Course Rating – Course Par).
To get an idea of what this means to your own handicap, just calculate the (Course Rating (from the tees you play) minus The Par of your course) this will usually be a negative number, so subtract that from your current handicap, and that will be close to your new handicap. The larger the negative number, the bigger the impact will be on your handicap.
The USGA feels that by changing the course handicap calculation to include the Course Rating and Course Par, there will no longer be a need to make adjustments when playing from different tees. In fact, the new adjustment to handicap closely resembles how you adjust for playing from different tees.
The ESC (Equity Stroke Control) limits the number of strokes you may take on a given hole, to eliminate skewing of your handicap. The limit is currently based on a chart, and varies depending on your handicap. The 2020 system for all handicaps, and holes, is called Net Double Bogey – which is Double Bogey + Any Strokes you get on the hole. For example on a par 5, if you are out of the hole, and get 2 strokes then you would enter a score of 9 (Double Bogey = 7) + (2 strokes) = 9.
I’ve heard various comments on when the USGA will be ready to roll out these new regulations. However, since these changes seem to be happening rather quickly, it would appear each club is going to be under a lot of pressure to decide how they plan to implement these changes. My club plans to meet this November to discuss the issue.