Scottish golfers' handicaps could benefit as plans afoot to take playing conditions into account

Playing conditions, which are invariably a big factor on Scottish golf courses, could be taken more into account for the World Handicap System (WHS).

Scottish Golf's Karin Sharp.
Scottish Golf's Karin Sharp.

Introduced in November 2020 after being developed by the R&A and USGA in a bid to make the game more enjoyable for players of varying ability, the new system had initially been met with mixed views.

According to Scottish Golf, though, players using the new system in the game’s birthplace now seem to have accepted what it had set out to try and achieve in replacing the six different systems previously used by over 15 million golfers in more than 80 countries.

“As people have started to understand the system and how it all works, the number of inquiries about WHS dropped off at the tail-end of the playing season,” said Scottish Golf’s chief operating officer, Karin Sharp.

Hinting that adjustments could be in the offing, though, she added: “A key thing being looked at across the Home Nations is the Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC), which is the adjustment for the playing conditions.

“A lot of feedback we’ve had was about having a ridiculous wind or weather conditions that would have historically been the Competition Standard Scratch (CSS) adjustment and that’s not been quite so prevalent under WHS.

“That’s one of the calculations that is being looked at through CONGU, which is the four Home Nations, and the R&A.”

Iain Forsyth, Scottish Golf’s chief commercial officer, feels that the response to WHS has been “pretty positive overall”.

Referring to Scotland, he added: “Across GB&I, we are probably the strictest, if that’s the right word, when it comes to handicaps.

“You couldn’t put in a score before unless it was in a competition whereas around the world everything is way more relaxed as to how people submit scores.

“The big change for us was the general play side and over 25 per cent of the scores returned now are general play. I think it’s something like 430,000 have come in in the last 12 months.

“We have always put a very high integrity on the rules around submitting a score for handicapping, if you like, and we have to maintain that.

“In the home of golf, it is held in high esteem as to the value of a handicap and the fact it is accurate.”