World Handicap System


The vision of the new World Handicap System is to unify the six different handicap systems used around the world into one, universal system.

The new system, which was introduced in 2020, will enable players around the world to compete on fair ground, in any format, on any course, without sacrificing accuracy.

As the system was adopted by all of the existing handicapping authorities and other National Associations, this collaboration will ensure the system is suitable to all golfing cultures.

When adapted, the WHS will be governed by the USGA and The R&A and administered by national and multinational associations around the world. The WHS will encompass both the Rules of Handicapping and the Course Rating System (formerly known as the USGA Course Rating and Slope System).

WHS Resources

Continuing Education

For Golfers / AGA Members

In an effort to provide a resource that may be utilized for local club member/golfer education, the USGA has produced a club-based educational PowerPoint deck that highlights the most significant WHS system changes.

This presentation is anticipated to be approximately 45 minutes in length. Please download and utilize it at your discretion at the local level and forward any questions that arise to AGA Staff Member, Derek McKenzie.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (602)-944-3035

Get PowerPoint

Club Administrators & Facility Staff

WHS Club Certification- 2020 World Handicap System (WHS) club compliance policy dictates that at least (1) representative from every licensed handicap roster participate in a WHS Certification Seminar and pass a 20-questions quiz for the affiliated roster to be in WHS compliance. The deadline to accomplish this requirement is June 30th, 2020. Certification will be offered in two formats moving forward, each covering all the standard elements included in the new WHS Rules of Handicapping:

  • Online – We are pleased to announce that an online self-guided WHS certification seminar is now available. This seminar consists of (4) video segments followed by a 20-question quiz. Please use or forward the following link to access this seminar option:

  • Access WHS Certification Seminar

WHS Questions

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Register for GHIN training

The AGA and AWGA are pleased to offer and host GHIN handicap administration and TPP tournament software training classes for your club. We have scheduled both day and evening classes to make it as easy as possible for club representatives to get informed.

The full-day workshops consist of GHIN administration training from 9:30 a.m. to noon and the Tournament Pairings Program (TPP) training will run from 1-4 p.m. Lunch will NOT be provided but will be available on site. Evening classes will be GHIN administration training only.

Sept. 11 at Pebble Creek Golf Resort THIS TRAINING IS FULL 9:30 a.m. to Noon (GHIN administration) and 1-4 p.m. (Tournament Pairings Program)
Sept. 11 at The Country Club at DC Ranch: THIS TRAINING IS FULL 9:30 a.m. to Noon (GHIN administration) and 1-4 p.m. (Tournament Pairings Program)
Sept. 12 at Sun Lakes Golf Club: THIS TRAINING IS FULL 9:30 a.m. to Noon (GHIN administration) and 1-4 p.m. (Tournament Pairings Program)
Sept. 18 at AWGA office: THIS TRAINING IS FULL 6-9 p.m. (GHIN administration)

Sept. 20 at AWGA office: THIS TRAINING IS FULL 6-9 p.m. (GHIN administration)
Sept. 22 at Gainey Ranch Golf Club: 9:30 a.m. to Noon (GHIN administration) and 1-4 p.m. (Tournament Pairings Program)
Sept. 24 at Arizona Golf Resort:: 9:30 a.m. to Noon (GHIN administration) and 1-4 p.m. (Tournament Pairings Program)


Sept. 12 at Arizona National Golf Club: THIS TRAINING IS FULL 9:30 a.m. to Noon (GHIN administration) and 1-4 p.m. (Tournament Pairings Program)
Sept. 13 at Canoa Ranch Golf Club: 9:30 a.m. to Noon (GHIN administration) and 1-4 p.m. (Tournament Pairings Program)
Oct. 1 at Tucson National Golf Club: 9:30 a.m. to Noon (GHIN administration) and 1-4 p.m. (Tournament Pairings Program)
Oct. 2 at The Gallery Golf Club: 4-7 p.m. (GHIN administration)


Sept. 14 at Prescott Country Club: 9:30 a.m. to Noon (GHIN administration) and 1-4 p.m. (Tournament Pairings Program)
Sept. 23 at Pinetop Country Club: 9:30 a.m. to Noon (GHIN administration) and 1-4 p.m. (Tournament Pairings Program)
Sept. 24 at Pinetop Country Club: 9:30 a.m. to Noon (GHIN administration) and 1-4 p.m. (Tournament Pairings Program)


Oct. 5 at the Hampton Inn (245 London Bridge Road) in Lake Havasu: 9:30 a.m. to Noon (GHIN administration) and 1-4 p.m. (Tournament Pairings Program)
Nov. 6 at Cocopah Golf Resort: 9:30 a.m. to Noon (GHIN administration) and 1-4 p.m. (Tournament Pairings Program)


Webinars will run as follows:
10 a.m. – Noon: GHIN handicap adminsitration
1p.m. – 1:30 p.m.: Getting started (downloading, installing, setting up club information and course information)
1:45 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.: Setting up an individual event from start to finish
3:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.: Setting up a team event from start to finish

Sept. 13 online – Register from homepage
Sept. 14 online – Register from homepage

Please share this information with additional individuals at the club who are involved in using the handicap administration or tournament software. Representatives of the same club do not have to attend the same training class.

PGA members will receive MSR credits for their attendance.

We hope that you will make it a priority to attend one of the AZHN/GHIN training classes. It is the goal of the AGA and AWGA to make this transition as smooth as possible for everyone involved. We appreciate your patience and that of your members as we work to put this new program in place.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the AGA at 602-944-3035 or [email protected] or the AWGA at 602-253-5655 or [email protected]


FAQs about the GHIN transition


Q. When will the switch to the GHIN system take place?
A. Members will receive their final handicap revision in the current system on October 1. Shortly thereafter all posting will be suspended for 7-10 days in order to make the final transfer of scoring information to the GHIN database. During this period members will be informed of their new GHIN member numbers and other information regarding the transition process. The first revision using GHIN will take place on October 15.
Q. How will golf course and personal club administrator computers be updated with the new GHIN programs?
A. The AGA will contact with each golf facility in the near future to install the necessary system upgrades and programs to be ready for the GHIN program implementation once the conversion occurs in early October. Club administrators will be able to access the Handicap Administration program (GHP) remotely by logging a club username and password into the GHIN online handicap program website. The Tournament Pairings Program (TPP) will initially be available to club administrators through a simple download onto their personal computer and accessed through a club specific username and password.


Q. What happens if I already have a GHIN number from another golf association?
A. The AGA/AWGA will be able to transition your Arizona handicap record into your established GHIN member number. However, for this to occur, you must supply the AGA with your GHIN account information by filling out the survey at the following link: Note: If you already have an IGN link established in your AGA handicap account, you will not need to fill out the survey as the account will automatically be converted.
Q. I know that I have a GHIN handicap record in another state but I don’t know what member number I have been assigned in the GHIN system. How can I locate this information?
A. If you hold an active GHIN handicap account (currently, or within the past 2 years) through another State Golf Association, you may contact that Association directly or your affiliated out of state club to inquire about your assigned GHIN member number. After receiving this number, please input it along with all other requested information on this survey:, in order to assure your current Arizona record is combined into the existing GHIN account upon the transition in early October.
Q. My current AGA member number was carried over when the AGA used GHIN as its handicap vendor prior to 2000? Will I be able to continue to use that number after the transition back to GHIN?
A. If your AGA/AWGA member number is a 5-7 digit number that was your “GHIN” number prior to switching to EZLinks in 2000 has not subsequently been reassigned by GHIN, you will be able to maintain that number. All others will be transitioned into a newly assigned member number. The AGA will be working with GHIN in an attempt to assign new numbers as similar as possible to the current AGA number you possess.
Q. I used to have a GHIN account many years ago through another Golf Association but do not remember what member number I was assigned. Should I try to find this old member number so that my current AGA record can merge into that previous GHIN account?
A. Only if you GHIN account has been active within the past 2 years can we be assured that it is available to be merged into. After 2+ years of inactivity, the GHIN database often times recycles account information and reissues member numbers. Therefore, the GHIN account that was inactivated years ago will no longer be available for use in the transition from your existing AGA record. If your currently assigned AGA number is available within the GHIN system, you will continue to be assigned that value. If it is not (due to number of digits or if already being used by another GHIN account), every effort will be made to assign you a value that is a close variation of the current AGA number.


Q. Will my current handicap record, including scores and handicap history be available after the transition?
A. Yes, scoring records and handicap history going back several years, as well as other account information will automatically be carried into your new GHIN handicap record.
Q. Will I still be able to post scores at the golf course kiosk and online?
A. Yes, golf courses will still be supplied with a score posting computer which may be used by members and guests to post their scores. GHIN is the final testing phase of offering an online, web-based solution to score posting that should be released by the time we finalize our transition in October.
Q. Will I still be able to post scores via the AGA or AWGA website?
A. Yes. In addition, a smart phone app (i-Phone and Android) will be available for AGA/AWGA members to log their scores remotely.
Q. Will my Handicap Index continue to be updated on the 1st and 15th of each month?
A. Yes, all Associations utilizing the USGA Handicap System are on a standard revision schedule with handicap calculations being processed on the 1st and 15th of the month, thus you will not experience any change from what is currently in place.
Q. Will club administrators still be able to generate the same reports that are currently being utilized?
A. Yes, the GHIN Handicap and Tournament programs have a robust amount of standardized reporting options that will cover most needs of the club. In the case where a club specific report is not available among the standard options, there is an ad hoc report generator available to design custom reports.

Q. Does GHIN offer a tournament administration program?
A. Yes, GHIN offers the Tournament Pairing Program (TPP) which is fully integrated into the handicap system and will be available to all AGA member clubs at no additional cost.

Q. Past versions of the Handicap Administration and Tournament Management programs have been Windows based applications that are not compatible with MAC computers. Will the GHIN programs have any additional compatibility?
A. Fortunately for many club administrators who own a MAC computer, GHIN Handicap Administration (GHP) is a web based program that simply requires an internet connection in order to gain access. No longer will administrators need to download an application in order to access and manage club member records, regardless of what computer or operating system they utilize. However, the Tournament Pairings Program (TPP) is still a Windows based program that will not run on a MAC computer. The good news is that GHIN is diligently working toward an online version which will allow all the same access capabilities as what already exist for the Handicap Administration program. We will keep clubs informed about the development.

Q. Will there be training provided to club administrators, staff, and members on the new GHIN Handicap and Tournament programs?
A. Yes, both in person and online training will be available for club representatives and members. Beginning in early September the AGA/AWGA will host training seminars throughout the state. These seminars are designed for club representatives who will be administering the handicap and/or tournament programs to manage their club member accounts and events. For those who are not able to attend a seminar, an online training Webinar will be available through the AGA website. Information on training seminars will be available shortly at and

Q. If I have already paid for a GHIN handicap account in Arizona do I still need to pay in another state golf association in another part of the country which I reside?
A. Yes, GHIN is simply the handicap calculation service utilized by many State Golf Associations across the country. When you submit member dues to the Arizona Golf Association (or other state golf association) you are obtaining membership with the local club and authorized golf association, not with ‘GHIN’. One of the key components of the USGA Handicap System is the requirement of peer review among members (i.e. the ability to review the scoring details of fellow golfers within the club). Unless you are maintaining your handicap with that local club, other members will not have access to the full details of your playing record and the handicap committee will not have the opportunity to perform the necessary compliance requirements in order to maintain a license to utilize the system.

State associations pay GHIN for each member within its organization – whether or not they have a membership in another association. Your AGA member affiliation not only affords you an official USGA handicap, but various other benefits (i.e.-access to club & AGA hosted tournaments and member days, ability to post scores at AGA affiliated golf courses and website, subscription to our magazine AZ Golf Insider and monthly AGA e-newsletter, member special pricing at many golf courses throughout the state, amongst many others). In addition, the member dues help to support the association in various other programs such as a computer at each member course, USGA Course and Slope rating services, playing opportunities from the championship level to the higher handicap players, USGA qualifiers, supporting amateur and junior golf programs, educational opportunities, etc.

Interface with Third-Party Software
Q. Our club currently utilizes the Golf Fusion program to manage our member communication and publication of club news and events. Will this program still be supported after the transition to GHIN?
A. Yes, the AGA will continue to support the Golf Fusion program even after the transition to GHIN. However, GHIN does have a similar club and member management program called eClubhouse which will also become available to clubs in the near future. Currently, GHIN is making a number of upgrades to this program and as they are completed club officers will be notified by the AGA with details of this program offering and the opportunity implement it for local club use going forward.

Q. What other programs does GHIN interface with?
A. The following software currently interfaces and communicates with GHIN software. Once we have completed the transition to GHIN, we will be happy to talk with clubs that use this software about how the interface works.

Golf Fusion
Chelsea Information Systems
Jonas Systems
Event-Man Tournament Software

Tournament Expert

Swing by Swing


Golf Status

Vision Perfect

Club Satellite Network

Core Motion Media/LA Golf

AGA Billing
Q. Will 2013 member dues change as a result of transitioning to GHIN?

A. No. Dues will remain the same as 2012 at $35.00 per member. If an 18-hole club pays the AGA memberships dues prior to January 1, 2012, they will receive a $10.00 per member discount; 9-hole clubs will receive a $5.00 discount.

Q. Will the club billing process change once we have switched to the GHIN system?

A. As in the past, all current AGA club memberships will expire as of December 31st, 2012. Clubs can either collect the member dues and send a payment via check or credit card or they can elect to allow their members to pay online at beginning October 15, 2012. Clubs allowing their members to pay online will be asked to complete a questionnaire about their club and contact information. Online signups should open around October 15.

Q. Will the club administrator still have to inactivate golfers before the end of 2012 in order to prevent being billed for them (refers to AGA only)?

A. In past years, club administrators were required to inactivate golfers that they did not want to be billed for. This year will be slightly different. As members commit to their membership for 2013, the administrator will be required to flag those that have paid (if they utilize the online payment process it will be automatic.) Anyone that has not been flagged as paid for 2013 will be automatically inactivated in the GHIN system as of end of day on December 31. More information will be sent to clubs toward the end of September.


Is your club in compliance?

Since the early 1780s, golf committees have been organized to review the basic rules and regulations of the game of golf. This process started locally, with individual clubs reviewing and formalizing everything from the rules to the procedure by which players would be handicapped. As the game grew, so did the need for a governing body to set the standards by which everyone would play.

Early on, players focused heavily on discovering an equitable way to handicap a match. The system started out very basically; two players would agree on their odds and one player would receive a certain number of strokes during the round. This process was a good start, but it didn’t really take into account the differences in players’ games nor the difficulty of the golf course being played. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the USGA implemented the current handicapping system, which takes into account both the variance in skill of the golfers and the assortment of golf courses available.

A key component of the system is an accurate measurement of golf course difficulty. The USGA licenses local golf associations to measure and rate each golf course according to specific procedures defined by the USGA. While this is simple enough to describe, the effort involved for golf associations to train the raters, complete the on-course work and maintain the records is significant.

Another critical component is the responsibility of clubs in applying the rules of the handicap system. This requires licensing clubs, training its officers, certifying club representatives, maintaining club records and auditing each club as needed.

Though the USGA sets the standards, they authorize regional golf associations to administer the system. Within Arizona, only the Arizona Golf Association and Arizona Women’s Golf Association are licensed by the USGA. This is administered through the Arizona Handicap Network (AZHN). Through the AGA and AWGA, clubs have direct access to the proper training and support needed to provide an equitable golfing experience for all members.

To be licensed, each club is required to fulfill minimum obligations to ensure compliance with the system in its entirety. These include signing a statement that acknowledges an understanding of the system and a promise to adhere to all the policies.

Each club is required to operate under bylaws and have a handicap committee chaired by a member. Although golf staff may serve on the committee, in no case is that person eligible to serve as the chairperson. The USGA makes this distinction to protect the professional from the possibility of having to take punitive action against a member. In other words, the system was created by amateur golfers with the idea that the amateurs would control club operations and police themselves.

Clubs are also required to send a representative to an educational seminar on handicapping and to pass a test demonstrating a proper knowledge of the subject. These checks and balances help guarantee consistency and assurances that all clubs under the AZHN umbrella are following the system as intended.

In order to accommodate the more than 700 men’s and women’s clubs in Arizona, the AGA and AWGA conduct educational seminars for members all over the state. The seminars are fun, interactive and informative, while aiming to help golfers understand the system. Ultimately, they ensure correct implementation at each club. Check the AGA and AWGA websites for a schedule of these events at and

As is the case with the Rules of Golf, the USGA publishes new handicapping policies every four years. Each four-year period is a cycle in which clubs must fulfill the basic requirements at some point during that timeframe. Jan. 1, 2012, marks the first day of the new licensing cycle. Each club will receive a packet with all new compliance paperwork, as well as more details about compliance requirements.

 As always, the AGA and AWGA staff are available during regular business hours to help your club in any way they can.


How well should you play?

From the USGA website,

Does it seem to you that you play a few strokes over your Course Handicap most of the time? Well, that’s normal under the USGA Handicap System.

Why? The USGA Handicap System is based upon the potential ability of a player rather than the average of all his scores. The USGA’s Handicap Research Team tells us that the average player is expected to play to his Course Handicap or better only about 25 percent of the time, average three strokes higher than his Course Handicap, and have a best score in 20, which is only two strokes better than his Course Handicap.

A few words and a little arithmetic may explain. A player’s Handicap Index reflects his potential because it is based upon his best scores posted for a given number of rounds, ideally the best 10 of his last 20 rounds. Since the USGA has his worst 10 scores tossed out, his Handicap Index reflects his best days.

The arithmetic comes in when the golf club calculates a player’s Differential for each score he posts. The Differential is the difference between a player’s adjusted gross score and the USGA Course Rating of the course on which the score was made, multiplied by 113, and then the total is divided by the USGA Slope Rating from the tees played rounded off to one decimal place.

For example, if you post an 80 on a course with a Course Rating of 68.7 and a Slope Rating of 105, your Handicap Differential is 12.2. The next step entails averaging your best Handicap Differentials, which your golf club or association then will multiply by a 96-percent "bonus for excellence" factor that slightly favors the lower-handicap player. The next step is to delete all numbers after the first decimal digit, with no rounding off to the nearest tenth. Your club Handicap Committee then reviews your record, modifies it, if necessary and then issues your USGA Handicap Index.

If you have a USGA Handicap Index of 11.6, for instance, it translates into a Course Handicap of 14 when you play from the middle tees one day at a course with a Course Rating of 72.1, with a Slope Rating of 135. So a little addition (72.1 + 14) leads you to think that you will consistently shoot around 86. In reality, your score average is normally three more strokes than that, or an 89. The USGA Handicap Research Team has determined that your best score in 20 is normally only two strokes better than your Course Handicap, or an 84; the probability of your recording an 83 twice in 20 rounds is only one in 50.

A good way to think of the range of scores upon which your USGA Handicap Index is based is the old bell curve that school teachers refer to when discussing the range of scores on an exam. The scores of most players, when plotted out, are distributed on a bell curve from the high to low end of the scale. Thus, when you drop out the worst half of your scores, the average of the remaining 10 scores on the upper part of the bell curve reflect your potential ability.

Now, once in a while you will hear about someone shooting an incredible tournament score, such as a net score of 59. What are the odds of shooting a score like that? These tables from the USGA’s Handicap Research Team have figured the odds of one exceptional tournament score up to ten strokes better than the Course Handicap.

For example, the odds of our example player with a Course Handicap of 14 beating it by eight strokes (-8 net) once is 1,138 to one. Put another way, the average player posts 21 scores a year. That means that to score this well, assuming the Handicap Index is correct, would take 54 years of golf to do it once. The odds of a player beating his Course Handicap by eight strokes twice is only 14,912 to one. That’s 710 years of golf for the average player — odds far beyond the realm of reasonableness.

Since the USGA Handicap System is designed to promote fairness during competitions, what happens if a player’s scores contradict the odds and he consistently plays better than his Handicap Index when some crystal or trophies are at stake? The USGA has created a Formula – we’ll spare you all the complicated arithmetic – that is outlined in the USGA Handicap System manual under Section 10-3, "Reduction of a USGA Handicap Index Based on Exceptional Tournament Scores." A player’s USGA Handicap Index will be automatically reduced when he records at least two tournament scores in a calendar year or in his latest 20 rounds that are a minimum of three strokes better than his USGA Handicap Index. The better the scores, the greater the reduction.

The end result is you’ve got your USGA Handicap Index for better or for worse. Don’t worry if you never seem to play to it on a given day. All golfers are in the same boat because USGA Handicap Indexes are based on a player’s potential ability rather than the average of his scores. You can do your part to make the USGA Handicap System work best by making sure all "great" tournament scores by all players get posted with a "T" so that they are reviewed and used under Section 10-3.