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Handicap Notice to Members
(Updated February 2023)

Part 1 - USGA Launches new World Handicap System January 2020


The new World Handicap System (WHS), live as of 1/6/2020, was developed by the R&A and the USGA in cooperation with all golf associations worldwide. The main goal is to be Inclusive, Consistent, and Modern. This new system, with its revised calculations and computations (all explained below) will likely have some impacts to your established handicap. Here is a summary of the planned changes and likely impacts of the conversion to the new World Handicap System:  

  • The new Handicap Index calculation uses the best 8 of 20 most recent score differentials. This may result in a slightly lower Handicap Index for most members (best 10 of 20 previously used) pending consistency/volatility of your previously posted scores. The new system will recalculate your revised Handicap Index based on your existing scoring record.

  • Safeguard #1 - An Exceptional Score Reduction process. If a player submits a score which produces a score differential of 7.0 strokes or more below their Handicap Index, their Handicap Index will be subject to an automatic reduction (-1 for 7 strokes lower, -2 for 10 or more strokes lower). It is accomplished by reducing the 20 preceding score differentials in the player's scoring record. Multiple adjustments are possible. This process replaces the Alternate Calculation for designated Tournament scores used previously. 

  • Safeguard #2 - A Soft Cap and Hard Cap to limit increases to a player’s Handicap Index:

    • If more than a 3.0 stroke increase to a player’s Handicap Index takes place within 12 months, the Soft Cap will suppress additional increases by 50 percent during the period.

    • After the Soft Cap is applied, the Hard Cap will restrict overall Handicap Index increases for any player to 5.0 strokes within 12 months.

    • To support this new calculation a new term or value, Low Handicap Index, will become an official component of a player’s scoring record and will serve as the baseline for the Soft Cap and Hard Cap calculations. The Low Handicap Index represents the demonstrated ability of a player over the 12-month period preceding and it is established after 20 scores are posted.

  • Safeguard #3 - A Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC) which considers course set up, course conditions, and local weather conditions each day. It is a statistical procedure that compares the scores submitted by all players on the day of play against expected scoring patterns under normal conditions. It is very conservative in nature and can result in an increase in a score differential of +1 when the course was determined to play easier than expected and a -1, -2 or -3 when the course has played more difficult than expected. If a player's score differential has been adjusted by the PCC there will be a notation listed in their scoring record.

  • Daily Handicap Index revisions accounting for prior day scores posted and any PCC adjustments.


  • Revised Course Handicap computation including an adjustment for the difference between course rating and course par. In the new system, your Course Handicap will be the number of strokes needed to play to par and accounts for players competing from different tees. Computed Course Handicaps will likely change (and at BFR, likely a few strokes lower for all) using the WHS.

  • For handicapping purposes, the maximum score on any hole is Net Double Bogey. This replaces Equitable Stroke Control (ESC). Net Double Bogey is already used in many other parts of the world and the calculation is simple: Par + 2 + any handicap strokes you receive on the hole per 100% of your computed Course Handicap for that day. 

  • A maximum Handicap Index for all golfers will be *54.0, regardless of gender. (*BFRMC Executive Board and Tournament Committee can set a lower maximum limit for use in competitions.) This will make the process more inclusive and as easy as possible for golfers to obtain and maintain a Handicap Index.

  • If one does not already have a valid handicap, only 54 holes (any combination of 18- and 9-hole rounds) are required to establish a new handicap index (previously 90 holes needed).


Overall, the changes made in the new system make downward handicap adjustments very fast (indicating player improvement) and upward handicap adjustments very slow (while a player might be in a temporary slump).

Please note you will find the updated Handicapping Rules, Guidelines, and Club Procedures for Members a little further down this web page.

More Details About Changing Course Handicaps

The revised Course Handicap computation is designed to be more intuitive and will automatically account for players competing from different tees. Even though your Handicap Index is not expected to change significantly during our conversion to the World Handicap System (WHS), you will find your Course Handicap could change by a significant amount at your home course and have a wider range when going from course to course. Under the old handicap system, your Course Handicap was computed such that, if you played close to your handicap, your net score would equal the course rating for the tees you played. Your new Course Handicap will equal the number of strokes needed to play to par. Since the majority of the tees have course rating values less than par, this means your Course Handicap under the new system will likely be reduced. Not to worry though, everyone else's Course Handicap playing from the same tees will be adjusted the same amount as yours. Here is an example - assume the following conditions apply to Joe Golfer who is playing in a BFRMC event on the White/Blue courses:

  • Joe’s Handicap Index = 14.6

  • Joe is playing from the Blue Tees: Course Rating = 69.0, Slope Rating = 120, Par = 72

  • Joe’s old Course Handicap = 16 (14.6 x 120 ÷ 113 = 15.5 rounded up)

  • Joe’s new WHS Course Handicap = 13 (14.6 x 120 ÷ 113 + (69.0 - 72) = 12.5 rounded up)


Handicap Allowances and Playing Handicap

Handicap Allowances are also being revised under the new World Handicapping System. Handicap Allowances are designed to provide equity for players of all levels of ability in each format of play, over both 9 holes and 18 holes. Handicap allowances are applied to the Course Handicap as the final step in calculating one’s Playing Handicap. Here are some updated USGA Handicap Allowance recommendations for use while competing in common formats of play:

  • 95% for Individual Stroke Play

  • 85% for 2-man Best Ball Stroke Play (Four-Ball or Stableford)

  • 100% for Individual Match Play

  • 90% for 2-man Best Ball Match Play

  • 35% A/Low + 15% B/High for 2-man Scramble

  • 60% A/Low + 40% B/High for Pinehurst (Selected Alternate Shot)

  • 25% A + 20% B + 15% C + 10% D (low to high) for 4-man Scramble


All changes implemented as part of the new WHS were made to ensure a golfer’s handicap is more reflective of their potential ability while also making them more portable from course to course and now, from country to country. It allows all players to compete or play recreationally with anyone else on a fair basis. Further, the new system is designed to make the game more welcoming to new players and incentivize beginners to establish and maintain a Handicap Index. And just as important, the new WHS changes are expected to help grow the game worldwide and create a more sustainable future.


Please note many additional resources regarding the new World Handicap System and new Handicapping Rules are available on the USGA’s website at


Associated GHIN System Changes

  1. Handicap Revisions for Club Members: Handicap Index revisions are available every day under the new World Handicap System. Your Handicap Index will update the day after you post a score. Anyone can find their current Handicap Index and compute their appropriate Course Handicaps for any course and set of tees using the GHIN Mobile App (on a smartphone) or the Club Scoring Kiosk. The GHIN Mobile App also has a convenient feature which allows a golfer to keep track of all their playing partners current Handicap Indexes and readily calculate all their Course Handicaps.

  2. Score Entry: Golfers will also have the option to enter hole-by-hole, front and back, or total scores.

  3. Score Types: As part of the WHS rollout, the following designations are used:

H - Home

A - Away

C - Competition (new)

N - Nine Hole Scores Combined (was "C")

E - Exceptional (new, system generated)

P - Penalty (assigned by Handicap Committee)

If you have any questions concerning this information,

please ask an Executive Board member or a Tournament Committee member.

You may also send an email with your query to

We will make every effort to respond to you within 48 hours.

Part 2 - Handicapping Rules, Guidelines, and Club Procedures for All Members

Below you will find some refinements to our club’s handicapping rules, guidelines, and procedures brought about after the launch of the new World Handicap System (WHS) as of January 6, 2020.


First of all, only member clubs (like the BFRMC) actually issue handicaps, not the CSGA or USGA. Local Handicap Committees are charged with consistently applying the USGA Rules of Golf and recommended handicapping procedures. As such please be aware of the following:



After attempting to make the best score possible on each hole, members are obligated for reporting all Acceptable Scores and posting of these scores on the same day of play – this includes both 9-hole and 18-hole scores. This will ensure the BFRMC, as a member club of the CSGA and USGA, can properly administer handicaps. This is the underlying premise for the World Handicap System which allows for golfers of differing abilities to compete on equitable terms.


Other than Scheduled Club Events, scores must be posted on the same day of play using the Club Scoring Kiosks (at all courses), the GHIN Mobile App (on a smartphone), or the GHIN Desktop Dashboard at (on an internet connected computer, tablet, or smartphone). There must be a valid reason for a score not to be posted on the same day of play (before midnight). If acceptable scores have not been posted on the same day of play, the Handicap Committee can take disciplinary action including: posting of penalty scores, manual adjustment (up or down), or withdrawal of a player’s Handicap Index.

Acceptable Scores Definition

Acceptable Scores are those played by the rules of golf in all forms of general play and competition including Stroke (or Medal) play, Match play, and Best-Ball team competitions. Both 18-hole and 9-hole adjusted gross scores* are required to be posted. See Rule 3 for all examples.

*For handicapping purposes, the maximum score on any hole equals Net Double Bogey. For those establishing a new handicap, the maximum score on any hole is par plus 5 strokes. 9-hole scores posted will be combined to form an 18-hole score in a player's scoring record.


Unacceptable Scores - Posting Not Required

  • Any rounds played on a course that is inactive or out of season.

  • Any rounds played alone.

  • Any rounds not played under USGA Rules of Golf (4-club, scramble, shamble, alternate shot formats, etc.)

  • Any rounds completed while playing more than one ball.

  • Any rounds played on courses of 3000 yards or less for 18 holes.


For Holes Not Completed, Recording the “Most Likely Score on a Hole”

For handicapping purposes, if a player is conceded a stroke during match play , or fails to complete a hole in any form of play, the player is required to record the “Most Likely Score on a Hole” (but no higher than Net Double Bogey). The following guidelines apply:


Most Likely Score Considering Position of the Ball and Strokes to be Added

  • Ball on putting green no more than 5 feet from the hole: Add one additional stroke.

  • Ball between 5 feet and 20 yards from the hole: Add 2 or 3 additional strokes, depending on the position of the ball, the difficulty of the green, and the ability of the player.

  • Ball more than 20 yards from the hole: Add 3 or 4 additional strokes, depending on the position of the ball, the difficulty of the green, and the ability of the player.

Additionally, a player is required to post scores for all holes not started or skipped equal to par plus any handicap strokes they are entitled to receive on those holes (record a Net Par).

Posting Scores for Incomplete Rounds

For rounds not completed or not played under the USGA Rules of Golf, a player is required to post an adjusted gross score as follows:

  • If 6 or less holes have been completed, the player shall not post a score.

  • A 9-hole score is acceptable for handicap purposes; a minimum of 7 holes must be played while recording a net par on any holes not played.

  • If more than 9 holes but less than 14 holes were played, all surplus holes are disregarded and a 9-hole score is posted.

  • If 14 or more holes have been completed, the player must post an 18-hole score recording a net par on any holes not played.


These guidelines apply for medal (or stroke) play, match play, and/or holes played out of order. 



All members must verify their hole-by-hole (gross) scores and sign the BFRMC event scorecards. A club member will input all player scores using the signed and verified event scorecards and then post these scores via bulk upload to the Golf Handicap Information Network ( using the club’s Tournament Scoring software. The club’s Tournament Scoring software will calculate the Adjusted Gross Score (a maximum of Net Double Bogey per hole) and total net score prior to posting. Tournament results will be posted on the club website as soon as practical at



It is the responsibility of all members to post Acceptable Scores for All Other Play on the day of play (before midnight). The player is obligated to post Adjusted Gross Scores as soon as practical (using your computed Course Handicap to record a maximum of Net Double Bogey per hole) for these rounds using either the Club Scoring Kiosks at all courses, the GHIN Mobile App on a smartphone, or the GHIN Desktop Dashboard at This includes all scores made during the following types of play:

  • All BFRMC Match Play Championship Tournament matches

  • All league play (18-hole or 9-hole) on any course (e.g. Wednesday night Red Sox League)

  • All general play at any course including Blue Fox Run

  • All team play like Member/Guest events (including best ball and/or team match play)

  • All formal competitions including local, CSGA, regional, and national tournaments  

  • All out of state and/or out of country vacation (and/or Snow Bird) play completed during that region’s active season (this is year-round in Virginia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and parts of Nevada and Utah)




  1. It is the responsibility of the entire club membership (each member!) to certify scores of fellow players and ensure all members are posting all Acceptable Scores (including All Other Play). 

  2. It is the responsibility of the club’s Handicap Committee to annually review the Handicap Index of all members and to ensure the accuracy of all calculations and computations.

  3. Any member, at any time, can request the formal review of any club member’s Handicap Index by the Handicap Committee.  

Possible Adjustment of Handicap Indexes by Handicap Committee

The Handicap Chairman can adjust a member’s handicap index for the following reasons:

  • Temporary disability

  • Player is improving faster than the system can react

  • Numerous "general play" scores impact the handicap index calculation

  • Failure to post all acceptable scores

  • Manipulation of round or score


Additional Penalties for Failure to Post Scores and/or Manipulation of Scores

If a player fails to post an acceptable score as soon as practical after completion of a round, the Handicap Chairman may post the score (if discoverable) and/or a penalty score, equal to the lowest score differential in the member’s scoring record. The Handicap Chairman may also withdraw a member’s handicap index for continued violations.


If you have any questions concerning this information,

please ask an Executive Board member or a Tournament Committee member.

You may also send an email with your query to

We will make every effort to respond to you within 48 hours.

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