Handicap Index

Your WHS handicap - how it works

What is a Handicap Index?

Golfers will consider the Handicap Index to be the most important element of the WHS.

The Handicap Index will:

  • Measure the ability of a player
  • Be portable from course to course
  • Allow players to complete fairly and therefore promote inclusivity within the game

A Handicap Index is calculated from the best eight scores from the last 20 rounds.

For new golfers to gain their Handicap Index they will have to submit a minimum of 54 holes (using any combination of 9 and 18 holes). Their Handicap Index will be the lowest of their three rounds minus two strokes and continue to be built until the 20 scores are achieved.

The Course Handicap

Before any player starts their round they must convert their Handicap Index into a Course Handicap. The Course Handicap will determine the number of strokes a player will receive for any set of tees on a course.

An easy way for a player to remember the WHS is ‘it’s as easy as HCP!


  • Handicap Index
  • Course Handicap
  • Play Golf

Fairfield’s Course & Slope Rating Table is positioned outside the Pro Shop – simply choose the tee you are playing off that day and cross reference your Handicap Index on the Course & Slope Rating table to ascertain your Course Handicap – there’s nothing to work out (unless you want to do the maths calculation– charts will be available at each club and in the PSI software used on the club terminals and phone apps.

Safeguarding a Handicap Index

A Soft Cap and Hard Cap will be implemented to limit any extreme upward movement of a player’s Handicap Index within a 365-day period. This has been introduced to act as a safeguard to prevent any handicap manipulation.

  • The Soft Cap will suppress movement by 50% after a 3.0 stroke increase over a player’s Low Handicap Index. For clarity in this instance, a Low Handicap Index is the lowest Handicap Index a player has had during the previous 12-month period.
  • The Hard Cap will restrict upward movement on 5.0 strokes over the Low Handicap Index.

Restricting the extreme upward movement of a Handicap Index will ensure that a player’s temporary loss of form does not cause the Handicap Index to move too far away from their actual ability.

Caps only start to take effect once a player has at least 20 acceptable scores in their record.

Transition to a Handicap

Your WHS Handicap Index  will be computed as the average of the best 8 of your last 20 qualifying scores posted since 1st January 2018. If you have not posted 20 qualifying scores since then a method similar to allocating a new handicap will be used.

Some test runs have indicated that in transition to the WHS your new Handicap Index is likely to be different from your current Playing Handicap e.g.

  • Currently 6 and below – maybe down by 1
  • 6 – 12 – maybe up or down by 1
  • 12 – 18 – maybe up by 1
  • 18 – 24 – up by 1 or 2
  • 24+ – up by 2 or 3

If ability has been declining then your Handicap Index will go up more than for steady players.

Course Handicap

Before any player starts their round they must convert their Handicap Index into a Course Handicap. The Course Handicap will determine the number of strokes a player will receive for any set of tees on a course.

An easy way for a player to remember the WHS is ‘it’s as easy as HCP!


  • Handicap Index
  • Course Handicap
  • Play Golf

Fairfield’s Course & Slope Rating Table is positioned outside the Pro Shop – simply choose the tee you are playing off that day and cross reference your Handicap Index on the Course & Slope Rating table to ascertain your Course Handicap – there’s nothing to work out (unless you want to do the maths calculation– charts will be available at each club and in the PSI software used on the club terminals and phone apps.

Playing Handicap

Playing Handicap is a stroke allowance that is implemented in order to maintain the integrity of the WHS when used in competition.  It allows golfers to compete on a level playing field, regardless of their Handicap Index.

The Course Handicap converts to a Playing Handicap for competition purposes and changes depending on the format of play. For example: Individual Stroke Play (Medal, Bogey/Par & Stableford) Allowance is 95%.

The four most important aspects of Playing Handicap to remember are:

  • It is only used for competition purposes
  • It ensures equity to calculate competition results (via Handicap Allowances)
  • Golfers do not need to calculate it (it is generated before their round)
  • Golfers should continue to play in the mindset of their Course Handicap in competition rounds. 

General Play & Competition Rounds

How to submit a score?
After the completion of a competition round, a player has to submit their scorecard as soon as possible in order for their Handicap Index to be updated.  Scores should be posted at the venue being played and on the same day, as this will be when a player’s Handicap Index will be updated.

Posting of scores is possible by players utilising the technology/apps available at their golf club. There will be sanctions for non-submission of scores.

How to verify a score?
In order to verify a score and for it to count towards a players WHS, it must be played:

  • In accordance with The Rules of Golf
  • In an authorised format of play
  • Over a minimum number of holes
  • With at least one other person
  • On a course with a current Course Rating and Slope Rating

How your score counts towards the WHS?
Acceptable formats of play for submitting a score towards a player’s Handicap Index include:

  • Pre-registered general play ‘social’ scores
  • All individual competition rounds (Medal, Bogey/Par & Stableford), both 9 and 18 holes, whether played at home or away

Non-Acceptable formats of play for submitting a score towards a player’s Handicap Index include:

  • Scores from fourball better ball
  • Other team and matchplay events

For golfers playing in recreational rounds with friends, either in teams or pairs, even when there is no intention of submitting a score for handicap purposes, they will need to calculate their Course Handicap prior to their round.

Playing Conditions Calculations

This adjustment is made automatically by the software to take account of abnormal course or weather conditions. It looks at all the scores submitted on the course for that day and determines if the course or weather conditions on the day differed from “Normal” expected scores. 

The adjustment will however be conservative in nature. In easy conditions it may adjust the gross score for the round by 1 or increase the gross by up to 3 in difficult conditions.

Check out our amazing membership opportunities