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The article below was written by Steve Carroll of National Club Golfer.

You all know you’ve got a World Handicap System index, but do you really know what that number represents?

We’ve had more than 30 months to get used to our decimal points and the figure we see when we open our digital apps but there is still some confusion, when you factor in course and playing handicaps, about what those digits actually stand for.

I’ve been asked in the past, for example, if I could really class myself as a single figure handicapper if my course handicap was in double digits.

And while most of us knew our CONGU handicap was a measure of our potential, of what we could do out on the golf course if we had a good day, is that the same for WHS? Or is it all change?

I asked James Luke, England Golf’s head of handicapping and course rating, to give us the lowdown on what our World Handicap System index means.

“Within the Rules of Handicapping, it’s about your demonstrated ability – simple as that,” he said. “The former CONGU system was about potential. We used to say, ‘if you play to your handicap three times a year then you’ve had a good season.

“With WHS, it’s about your demonstrated ability and the shots that you need to get around a golf course. If you fall short, then you haven’t played to your demonstrated ability for that round.

“And that’s really where the eight out of 20 scores comes in – because that’s what is producing your average score differential.

“While a lot of people like to say it’s like the American System, in truth there are elements from all the previous handicap systems around the world.

“It has been a big change for our clubs and golfers, as all scores have predominantly been competition focused and still now 90 per cent of our rounds are competition based, so it’s a big culture shift for us.”


Want more on the World Handicap System?

England Golf’s head of handicapping James Luke joined the From the Clubhouse podcast for an in-depth chat about all things WHS. You can listen to that here, or on your preferred podcast platform.