Handicap Information

Facts you need to know

How Changes to the Rules of Handicapping Will Affect Score Posting

There has been a lot of talk lately about the change to the USGA Handicap System™ that prohibits the posting of scores when playing alone. Before weighing in one way or the other about the change, it is vital to know why the USGA has dec ided, at this point in time, to institute this change.

With golf moving toward worldwide exposure and acceptance, as evidenced by the reappearance of golf in this summer’s Olympic Games, the leaders of the golf Rules industries have been working together to develop a uniform set, not only of the Rules of Golf, but also of the Rules of Handicapping.

The USGA and the R&A have for many years been the sole source for the Rules of Golf. It took many years of cooperation and concessions on both parts before both organizations agreed on a consolidation of the Rules, which took place for the first time with the last revision of the Rules in 2012.

However, while there are only two major players in the Rules of Golf, there are six different handicapping systems worldwide. And prior to the USGA implementing this change in 2016, North America – and the USGA Handicap System™ — were the only entity that allowed score posting while playing alone. Therefore, in an effort to move toward a worldwide system, the USGA has implemented this major change for 2016. 

The USGA has considered making this change in the past, but in order to move forward toward a worldwide system, the process becomes easier by removing this stumbling block. While the worldwide system will most closely resemble the USGA Handicap System™, concessions will have to be made by all before a worldwide system can be established, and this was an easy change to make.

The USGA Handicap System™ is based on two major premises: First, that a player will try to make the best score at every hole in every round; and second, that the player will post every acceptable round for peer review. The USGA felt that the best way to ensure the concept of peer review – an essential element in the handicap system – was to implement this change.

According to a press release by the USGA, “…anyone can learn a player’s potential ability and form a reasonable basis for supporting or disputing a score that has been posted. Any concern can be raised directly with the player or with the Handicap Committee. When those with whom you play can attest to your ability, it only adds to the integrity and credibility of the system. Without Peer Review, a USGA Handicap Index loses its inherent value.”

The USGA also wants players to know that “enjoying a round of golf when playing alo ne is a great thing. This decision does not discourage playing alone, but is in response to better supporting the reliability of a Handicap Index®.”

To view the USGA’s press release on other Handicap System changes click the link below.

2016 Changes to the USGA Handicap System


SMWGA does not print cards, except for major tournaments. Here is a link to a Course Calculator from United States Golf Association.

This handy calculator will tell you what your handicap is for any course you play this season. For example, you first type in your handicap Index, GHIN number (like 26.7 or 16.2), then you enter the slope of the course you are to play. Click Enter. Your handicap will appear almost instantly.

The computer program that SMWGA uses to calculate your score at the end of every tournament does the handicapping automatically, so there is no need to worry. You do not need to dot your card. But, for those who like to know what their weekly handicap is for the course they are playing, then the Handicap Calculator is for you.