Apr 18th, 2017
R&A and USGA working on unified handicapping system
For club golfers worldwide
Words: James Greenwood Photography: Getty Images
Golf's two main governing bodies have announced they are planning to introduce a new single World Handicap System for club golfers.
The R&A and the USGA are working with golf's handicapping authorities to develop "a universal set of principles and procedures" that will apply to the estimated 15million golfers in 80 countries worldwide who have an official handicap.
There are currently six different systems in place around the world to determined a player's handicap.
A joint statement released by the R&A and USGA reads: "The aim of the proposed handicap system is to adopt a universal set of principles and procedures that will 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 (AAG) and the United States Golf Association (USGA) has been undertaken.
"Golf organisations from different parts of the world have also been engaged with the current handicap authorities for the past two years to help shape the proposed system, which takes into account the many different golf cultures and most common formats of play. Research conducted to date has also reviewed systems and best practices inherent to handicapping, such as course rating and administration.
"A joint committee led by the R&A and the USGA 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."
R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers 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."
Mike Davis, executive director and CEO of the USGA, added: "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."
We can't fault any of the thinking here, and a universal handicapping system has to be the way forwards, rather than six completely different ones. We will watch this one with interest.