The United States Golf Association (USGA) and the R&A, the two entities that govern golf globally, released updates to its World Handicap System (WHS) on Wednesday ahead of the 2024 season.
Essentially, three main updates will allow golfers to post their scores when playing shorter courses and having briefer rounds, and players will not have to combine 9-hole scores.
First, the WHS will include courses as short as 1,500 yards for 18-hole layouts.
That means players who routinely play par-3 courses, executive courses, or pitch-and-putts will be able to have an established handicap. For 9-hole courses, the WHS will allow players to post scores from a course as short as 750-yards.
Secondly, should a golfer play anywhere between 10 and 17 holes, due to weather, time constraints, or the sunsetting, players can post those scores, and then, the WHS will calculate a player’s expected score to fill out the round.
• Integrating shorter courses
• More score-posting flexibility
• A modern approach to 9-hole scores
Your Handicap Index® is getting more dynamic and accessible starting in 2024!
— USGA (@USGA) November 8, 2023
Furthermore, 9-hole scores can now stand on their own. Previously, golfers had to wait to post two 9-hole scores to equate to 18, and thus an eligible round for one’s handicap.
“The game of golf continues to evolve, and the WHS has embraced those changes in a dynamic way to help all golfers, everywhere they play,” said Steve Edmondson, the Managing Director of Handicapping & Course Rating at the USGA, in a statement.
“It is a monumental time in golf, and improving both the accessibility of obtaining a Handicap Index and leveraging powerful data and technology to easily and accurately track performance is a great step forward.”
On top of these changes, the WHS has also modified the Playing Conditions Calculation, a formula that takes abnormal playing conditions into a round. This formula will increase in prevalence in 2024, meaning golfers who battle through wind, rain, and perhaps even snow will see that reflected within their handicap.
These are all very positive changes for everyday golfers like you and me, and hopefully, this creates a more even and balanced system for players from all walks of life.