What is the Handicap Index?

The Handicap Index is the most important element of the WHS.

The Handicap Index:

• Is a measure of the ability of a player

• Be portable from course to course

• Allows players to compete fairly and therefore promote inclusivity within the game


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

As a new score is submitted, a player’s Handicap Index will automatically update to the most recent 20 scores. A player’s Handicap Index will update promptly overnight after the submission of an acceptable score and be ready before the next time they play.


How to obtain a Handicap Index?

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 maximum Handicap Index for any player is 54. To obtain a recognised Handicap Index a player must be an affiliated member of a golf club.

How to safeguard 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 (see glossary of terms later in this toolkit). 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.

Handicap Index Key Features Video from the R&A and USGA