We spoke to Gemma Hunter from England Golf about how the World Handicap System has been received and she answered our W&G questions.

Ahead of the World Handicap System (WHS) launch in November, we had our first-ever virtual members' event with Gemma Hunter, Head of Handicapping & Course Rating at England Golf. There she answered all of our burning questions about the new system. Now after nearly eight months since the launch we were lucky to get more time with Gemma.

We were lucky because Gemma has become the go-to person for WHS questions and if you listen to the start of the Q&A, you'll be staggered to hear how many emails England Golf have had to work through!

In advance of the Q&A, we asked Women & Golf Facebook followers their thoughts on the WHS. Below are the comments and questions we posed to Gemma.

Please take a listen, Gemma gives some really detailed and informative answers, which will hopefully clear up some of the areas where people have had most issues or concerns.

World Handicap System comments and questions

Christine Young:
Think overall it is a fairer system. I think the 95% for playing handicap isn't right. Should have handicap index and course handicap but forget the playing handicap for stroke play.

Question: This was the biggest area of discussion around the 95% of handicap. Would you be able to explain the reasoning behind the 95% on stroke play?

Gill O'Donnell said:
England golf differs from USGA ... in USGA (and most other countries’ golf federations) the 95% of handicap allowance for stroke play is only recommended for fields of more than 30 players. EG has adopted it for all fields. EG also refused to use course rating to Par adjustment .... So much for a World Handicap System. England Golf has made it all seem unnecessarily complicated - it’s a very good system when used as it was intended.

Question: Can you explain why the 95% of handicap is applied to all stroke play competitions in England?

Wendy Neilson said:
I am a member of a course in Scotland and England (15 miles apart) and the 2 system don’t “talk” to one another so now have 2 CDH numbers! And at the moment 2 different handicaps (this is being rectified hopefully) therefore it is NOT a world handicap system.

Question: I’m assuming this is just teething problems with regards to having two different handicaps, do you have multiple CDH numbers depending on the country you play in?

Arelene Castle said:
I’m off 5.0. I don’t like the randomness of it all - I liked knowing that if I’d played in my buffer zone, I was safe, if not it was just 0.1 up - this is horrid! No CSS to reflect how hard it was - played in pouring rain & 25mph winds yesterday, and only 7 over my handicap - but penalised just as though it was perfect conditions.

Question: The Competition Scratch Score was replaced with the new Playing Conditions Calculation – can you explain what this is and what may have happened in Arelene’s case?

Marie McConnell said:
I had knee replacements in 2019 so did not play 2019 and only a few in 2020 my Handicap Index was calculated on scores from 2017 and 2018. As a result, I went up 1.4 in the first three competitions this year. It will be very difficult for me to reduce handicap with the scores that are waiting to drop off.

Question: Is there anything that Marie can do in this situation or is it just a case of putting in more cards?

Linda Green said:
When the WHS was first implemented I was awarded a handicap of 29.6 (my CONGU handicap was 28.6) but I had just joined a much harder course with a higher slope rating, and I put in one qualifier before WHS which was 27 points, so I was quite happy with my new H/C Index. However, since then I have played a couple of qualifiers - neither of which were too good - but have now gone up to 31.3 and I feel quite deflated and have no incentive to put in another card. I don't see the sense in it as I thought the whole idea of the WHS was to give people more incentive to play, not less.

Question: Have you had much negative feedback around increases in handicaps? How could it possible to incentivise Dorothy and Linda to persevere?

Jane Lees said:
I played in our Spring Meeting yesterday. I shot 87. This now counts as one of my 8 best scores in the last 20. However, when I look at the list of 20 scores they read as follows:


Question: Why is one of the 89s not counted instead of the 91? Also, my EG app does not show the Playing Course Conditions – where can we find this?

One final question:

There has been a lot of discussion on social media about course ratings for women who would like to play off the yellow or white tees. Is this something that is in progress or is there a way a club can apply to have these ratings done? And if so, do you see a time when we can just have club competitions when everyone (male or female) plays off the same tee?

We hope that has cleared up some of your questions and that you are continuing to adjust to the new WHS. Do always drop an email to Emma if you have any further questions you would like to raise. You can email her here.

You can also find more FAQs about the World Handicap System on the England Golf website here.

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