2023 Scoring and 2024 Handicapping Updates Blog

As part of the ongoing review to the rules of Handicapping and course rating system by The R&A and the USGA new revisions will be in effect for 2024 that will include scores from our Pairs Betterball events (38+ Points as a team and 9 holes scored on individually) as well as our continued posting of scores from 2023 singles events.

The R&A now has data from over 100 million scores since the latest WHS system was introduced, feedback and analytics from this data has meant that significant changes need to be made in order for golf to be “Fairer for all”.

We can take a look at the data from the 113 Pairs betterball events we at golfpairs.com held in 2023, with an 85% handicap allowance and a maximum playing handicap set as 24 for Men and 28 for Ladies we have seen winning scores range from 38-52 points (betterball) with the average winning score being 46.6 points.  Last year we implemented our own exceptional scoring policy for Pairs events, and it appears we were ahead of the curve as now The R&A and USGA would like to acknowledge these scores and apply them to your WHS record accordingly. (From 1st April 2024)

The Changes:

Shorter Length Courses within the Course Rating System:

Requirements for a course to achieve a rating (length) will be significantly reduced, 18 hole courses as short as 1500 yards will now be able to get a course and slope rating (9 hole courses 750 yards) with thousands of courses in this range having active playing handicap become more accessible to thousands of golfers. (1st January 2024)

For golfpairs.com what does this mean? We have no plans to host events at any of these shorter courses but members of these courses will now be able to compete in our events, these players will also be able to play competitions to be able to be eligible to enter our competitions (4 WHS Competitions in last 12 months - Matchplay, 6 WHS Competitions in last 12 months - Other Events)   

Expected Score for a Hole Not Played:

In order to better reflect a players ability an “expected score” for holes not played will be used, this new method will produce a 9-hole or 18-hole score differential rather than a score of Net Par. For golfpairs.com a pairs betterball team may score 45 points betterball, and an individual 40 on their own, the holes they have no score written down for will now be calculated accordingly to help further adjust handicap changes. (1st January 2024)

Playing Conditions Adjustments:

The previous calculation used has been adjusted to increase the likelihood of an adjustment for abnormal playing conditions. So for poor weather or days where scoring is particularly easy will now have a more accurate handicap adjustment made. (1st April 2024)

Handicap Calculations:

Currently the formula used is: Handicap index x (Slope/113)

The New calculations for course handicap will be:

Handicap index x (Slope/113) + (Course Rating + Par)

This latest formula will move the target score to 36 points (Net par) for all handicap indexes, this now means if a course rating is higher than par you will get more shots and if the course rating lower than par you will receive less shots.

An example calculation: 

A Male playing the White Tees at Woodhall Spa of 10.0 handicap index.

Previously: Course handicap 13 (10 x (151/113) = 13.36

With the new formula: the course rating - Par the  handicap would increase to 15 (14.76)

These new revisions will be in place in all golfpairs.com events for 1st April 2024, we will continue to use our exceptional scoring policy alongside this to ensure greater fairness for all our participants. 


A live sheet of our exceptional Scores for 2024 can be viewed here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vTizPOuaM592T1K9DTuE7GNHMcXNccbNU7dso01Gqg6rlztWP7Ee3vM3NnJK0yZyZ10Liis5m6TJbpy/pubhtml?gid=478733171&single=tru

I would also like to take this moment to remind everyone that we introduced gross prizes to all of our golf pairs events be it singles / Pairs or even a Scramble, we have done this to see a greater range of prize winners. For 2023 the average winning gross score for each competition was:

Pairs Betterball Events - 38.60 points (-2.6)

Singles Events - 33.65 points (+2.35)

Scrambles - (-10.57)

From the golfpairs.com team we would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and we look forward to welcoming you back to some of our 200+ events in 2024!

1 comment

I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to thank the whole Golf Pairs team for their exceptional professionalism and friendly running of these events.
I think it’s great you continue to move with the times, recognise there are a small few who like to benefit from the game by stealth and work hard to make it as fair as possible for all competing.
Have a great Christmas, New Year and look forward to 2024.

Peter Edwards December 18, 2023

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