WHS World Handicap System

Why is there a Maximum Hole Score for Handicap Purposes?

A score for handicap purposes should not be overly influenced by one or two bad hole scores they are not reflective of a players demonstrated ability.  To prevent the occasional bad hole from impacting your Handicap Index too severely, the World Handicap System (WHS) outlines how to determine your maximum hole score.  Remember…this is used for handicap purposes, but a higher score in an event would stand for the purposes of declaring a winner!

How do I calculate my Maximum Score Hole?

Referring to the Rules of Handicapping (Rule 3.1), players with an established Handicap Index can enter a maximum score of Net Double Bogey, calculated as follows:

How do I enter a score with a Net Double Bogey?

To apply a Net Double Bogey, use your Course Handicap to determine which holes you give or receive strokes. Then, on any holes where you have surpassed your maximum hole score, your score will be adjusted downward to your maximum.

Looking at this example, Jane has a Course Handicap of 16. Jane receives one stroke on each of the stroke index holes 1-16, Jane’s maximum score on these holes would be a triple bogey (Par + 2 strokes + 1 stroke received). On holes 17 & 18 (where Jane does not receive a stroke), her maximum score is a double bogey.

This sounds like a lot of work; can this adjustment be done automatically?

Yes, if you enter your scores in the Golf Canada Score Centre hole-by-hole (via the mobile app or website), the system will automatically adjust your hole scores to your Net Double Bogey should it be surpassed.

What if I do not have a Handicap Index?

If you have not yet established a Handicap Index, your maximum score per hole is Par + 5 strokes.

To learn more please watch the following video; or read more here.

If you have any questions regarding the Rules of Handicapping, please feel free to Ask an Expert or complete our Rules of Handicapping Certification seminar and quiz.

Handicap World Handicap System

Handicapping: Active seasons

Golf Canada

The World Handicap System stipulates every player is responsible for returning all acceptable scores into one’s scoring record from rounds played on courses observing their active season, which is part of the golf season when courses have acceptable playing conditions. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of authorized provincial golf association to declare active and inactive periods, and it is the responsibility of the area club and golfers to observe these dates for posting purposes. Each year, provincial associations analyze numerous factors to determine their active seasons. This ensures consistency of when scores would be posted by the majority of golfers to help keep Handicap Indexes accurate. Scores made at any golf course observing an inactive season are not acceptable for handicap purposes. The rationale behind this is that posting scores during inactive seasons (periods of poor course conditions) could artificially increase a player’s Handicap Index. Scores made at a golf course in an area observing an active season must be posted for handicap purposes, even if the golf club from which the player receives a Handicap Index is observing an inactive season. The club’s Handicap Committee must make it possible for a player to post these away scores at the beginning of the active season. For example, if a player belonging to a golf club in Ontario plays golf in Florida during January, any scores made in Florida are acceptable and must be returned to the player’s Ontario golf club. If the player is also a member of a golf club in Florida, scores must be posted to the player’s Florida club. In Canada, the active season in each province is as follows: BC =     Mar.1 – Nov.15 AB =     Mar.1 – Oct.31 SK =     Apr.15 – Oct.31 MB =    Apr.15 – Oct.31 ON =    Apr.15 – Oct.31 QC =    Apr.15 – Oct.31 NS =     Apr.15 – Oct.31 NB =     May.1 – Oct.31 PE =     Apr.16 – Nov.14 NL =     Apr.1 – Nov. 30 It’s also important to note that if you are travelling to other countries, you should determine their active seasons to prevent posting unacceptable scores. Your home club needs all acceptable scores from the “off-season” as well to ensure your Handicap Index is accurate once recalculated at the beginning of the season. For a detailed list of active and inactive schedule in the United States, click here. For more information on handicapping, click here.

To enter your scores for an official handicap, become a Golf Canada member here.


Rules of Golf World Handicap System

Rules of Golf & Rules of Handicapping COVID-19 Guidelines


The COVID-19 global pandemic is an unprecedented and difficult time for Canadians and Golf Canada stands with our entire golf community during this unprecedented time. We all love the game for the escape it provides and its positive impact on our physical, social and mental well-being. We look forward to better and healthier days and when the time is right for Canadians to return to recreational normalcy, clubs and courses will be ready to welcome golfers back to the tee. We continue to urge golfers to follow the guidelines from health and governmental officials to keep you and those around you safe, and to minimize any possible exposure to coronavirus. This is especially true on a golf course, where golfers, workers and operators should heighten their level of awareness on exposure to surfaces like flagsticks, golf balls, bunker rakes, tees, carts and scorecards. We all need to do our part to respect expert advice and make the right decisions to protect each other. It is not the intended purpose of the below guidance to either encourage or discourage anyone from playing the game, but rather, in our governance role, to help golf course operators, committees and golfers better understand how the Rules of Golf and Rules of Handicapping apply to the various questions received by the governing bodies. The Modernized Rules of Golf were drafted to offer each Committee the flexibility to make decisions as to how golf is played at their course or in competition and the Committee Procedures section of the Official Guide to the Rules of Golf (available online here) offers a significant amount of guidance and recommendations on how to address circumstances unique to each course or competition. This flexibility will prove to be very helpful as Committees look to address many of the challenges they are facing within the current environment. While the Committee Procedures section is a tremendous resource and has much to offer, many of the current questions were not originally contemplated under the Rules of Golf and therefore there is no history or guidance provided. To better address the questions that have come about because of these unique circumstances and the related challenges, additional guidance can be accessed by clicking here. This will continue to be updated as additional questions are received. As active seasons start to open across the country, we would like to discuss impacts on Handicapping.  From the perspective of the Rules of Handicapping, the most frequent questions received are primarily related to the acceptability of scores for posting to a player’s scoring record. In particular, to modifying the hole and not requiring the player to “hole out” as required under the Rules of Golf. These are founded in a desire to minimize the possibility of exposing golfers to coronavirus and have included leaving the hole liner raised above the putting surface or placing various objects into the hole so the ball can be more easily removed. In these specific cases, ensuring guidance from health and governmental officials is being followed, a temporary measure is in place in Canada to accept scores played under these conditions for handicap purposes using the most likely score guidelines (Rule 3.3, Rules of Handicapping), even though the player has not holed out. Please remember that this temporary measure is now in effect within Canada until advised otherwise by Golf Canada. For more information and detailed guidance, please contact your Provincial Golf Association or Golf Canada.]]>

World Handicap System

Preparing golfers for the new World Handicap System

Parksville, BC — 03 June 2016 — Volunteers during final round action at the Canadian University/College Championship at Morningstar Golf Club in Parksville, BC. (Photo: Chuck Russell/Golf Canada)


The vision to unify the six different handicap systems in use around the world into a single World Handicap System required the commitment of, and collaboration between, many organizations. All of the following organizations have provided their support to this important initiative and played their part in establishing the key principles, which shaped the proposals and drove forward the initiative to the point where a new World Handicap System can be introduced to the golfing world in 2020.   The new Rules of Handicapping have been introduced in Canada and will be ready for play, as off January 2020.     #1. If you are a new player, it is easier to establish an Index Only three 18-hole scores (or the equivalent combination of nine-hole scores) are needed to establish a Handicap Index. Previously, the minimum was five. What golfer doesn’t play more than 54 holes in a season? Also, your Handicap Index is updated automatically once the score is submitted (although not new for Canada, it is for the rest of the world.) Learn more 1a. >> | Learn More 1b. >>   #2. Handicap Index calculation is changing Your number will be based on your eight best scores out of the past 20. For most golfers, the change will be minor, but you may see your Handicap Index is different in January, despite not having played! Learn more 2. >>   #3. You have a Playing Handicap Slope Rating and now Course Rating and Par will be used to determine your Course Handicap, allowing you to play from different sets of tees without any adjustment. Learn more 3. >>   #4. Net Double Bogey replaces Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) The maximum hole score for handicap purposes will be limited to Net Double Bogey (Par + 2 + any handicap strokes you receive). Learn more 4.>>   #5. Safeguards have been added to protect your Handicap Index The system accounts for abnormal playing conditions, limiting the extreme upward movement of a Handicap Index, and reduce a Handicap Index when an exceptional score is posted.   #6. Maximum Handicap Index The maximum Handicap Index that can be issued to a player is 54.0 (currently it is 36.4 for men and 40.4 for women). But the Committee in charge of competition may set a maximum limit for entry into a competition. Learn more 6.>>   #7. You need to know your Course Handicap  Course Handicap will be the number of strokes needed to play to par. This will result in greater variance in that number and presents a change, as historically it has represented the number of strokes needed to play to the Course Rating. It is important that an accurate par is established for each hole on a golf course for both men and women. Golf New Brunswick, in consultation with Golf Canada, will be the final adjudicator of par.   To ensure your golf club’s handicap committee and members are ready to enter your scores under the new World Handicap System, Golf Canada/New Brunswick will be providing several educational tools and resources. Please stay tuned to our website, newsletters and social media platforms for more information on the new World Handicap System for 2020.   For more information on the World Handicap System, please visit https://golfcanada.ca/handicapping To download a PDF copy of the Rules of Handicapping effective January 2020, please CLICK HERE]]>

Golf Canada R&A USGA World Handicap System

How your handicap is calculated under golf's new World Handicap System

Basis of handicap calculation

Click here for more information.]]>