Governing Golf Bodies Seek Unified Handicap System

Golf’s authorities around the planet are working towards a single World Handicap System. The formal announcement came today about an effort that has been much-rumoured for the past year.

The golf handicaps used by more than 15 million golfers in 80 countries around the world are currently delivered through six different systems. The numerical index is used to measure a golfer’s potential skill level.

A release from the United States Golf Association (U.S.G.A.) and Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (R&A) says the aim of the proposed handicap system, “is to adopt a universal set of principles and procedures that would apply all over the world.”

An extensive review of existing handicap systems administered by Golf Australia, the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) in Great Britain and Ireland, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA), the Argentine Golf Association (AGA) and the United States Golf Association (USGA) has been undertaken.

Work on the project has already been underway for the past two years, taking into account the variations in which the game is played around the world.

A joint committee led by the USGA and The R&A has been formed, including representatives from each handicap authority as well as the Japan Golf Association and Golf Canada. The joint committee plans to announce its proposals later this year.

USGA Executive Director/CEO Mike Davis said, “One wonderful aspect of golf that separates it from other sports is the opportunity for players of differing abilities to play on an equitable basis through handicapping. With one global system, golf courses will be rated and handicaps calculated in a consistent manner everywhere in the world. Removing borders to provide an easy way for all to play together is great for the game and golfers everywhere.”

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “We have been concerned for some time that many golfers find the handicapping landscape to be complicated and can be frustrated when it is not always applied in the same way in different parts of the world.

“We are working closely with the existing handicapping bodies to benefit from their insights as we try to formulate a system that will be easy to understand and can be applied consistently on a global basis. We very much appreciate their support for this initiative.”