The new 'World Handicap System' follows a review of the six existing handicapping authorities: 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 USGA.
The World Handicap System will not form a radical change to how Australian club golfers determine their handicaps though the maximum handicap limit - regardless of gender - will become 54.
Under current Australian handicapping rules, the maximum handicap is 36 for men and 45 for women.
The World Handicap System was announced overnight by the R&A and USGA.
According to the joint press release, handicaps changes from round to round will be calculated by taking a golfer's best eight out of the last 20 scores and "factoring in memory of previous demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control", which is closely aligned with current handicapping rules in Australia.
The key features of the new World Handicap System are here!February 20, 2018
The World Handicap System took into account feedback from 15 countries around the world.
According to the R&A and USGA press release, "76 percent of the 52,000 respondents voiced their support for a World Handicap System, 22 percent were willing to consider its benefits, and only 2 percent were opposed."
"This was followed by a series of focus groups, in which more than 300 golf administrators and golfers from different regions around the world offered extensive feedback on the features of the proposed new system."
R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said the changes will help golf become more modern, accessible and enjoyable.
“We want to make it more attractive to golfers to obtain a handicap and strip away some of the complexity and variation which can be off-putting for newcomers," Slumbers said.
"Having a handicap, which is easier to understand and is truly portable around the world, can make golf much more enjoyable and is one of the unique selling points of our sport.”
USGA CEO Mike Davis commented, “For some time, we’ve heard golfers say ‘I’m not good enough to have a handicap,” or ‘I don’t play enough to have a handicap.’ We want to make the right decisions now to encourage a more welcoming and social game."
To read the R&A and USGA joint press release regarding the World Handicap System, click here.
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