WHS: New Handicap Rules for Golfers in Minnesota

January 1, 2020 | 5 min.

By W.P. Ryan

You may have hard about the new World Handicap System, a collaboration between the USGA, the R&A and the world's six handicapping authorities to unify the golf world under one system. It's great news for traveling golfers who can now port their Handicap Indexes from country to country and post acceptable scores for handicap purposes everywhere they play. It also heralds the introduction of new handicap rules for golfers in Minnesota. Here's what you need to know:

  1. The WHS is more responsive, so your Handicap Index may change slightly after Jan. 1. The average of your best eight scores from your most recent 20 will be used, versus the old formula of lO-of-20 scores x .96.
  2. Par is significantly more important now. Your Course Handicap represents the number of strokes needed to play to par. If you play with other golfers from the same tees with the same par, no adjustment is needed. If you are competing from tees with different pars, the player competing from the tees with the higher par must add the difference to their Course Handicap.
  3. Your Handicap Index will update daily if you submit a score the previous day. Safeguards in the new system will limit extreme changes in your index.
  4. Net Double Bogey is the maximum score any player can take on a hole: NOB = par + 2 strokes + any handicap strokes.
  5. Fifty-four is the number of holes needed to establish a Handicap Index (any combination of 9 and 18-hole scores will do). It's also the maximum Handicap Index (54.0) for all golfers regardless of gender.
  6. Your Handicap Index will be interchangeable for both 9-hole and 18-hole play (9-hole Handicap Indexes "N" are no longer necessary and have been phased out under the WHS).
  7. Playing Conditions Calculation: when abnormal course or weather conditions affect scores, an automatic adjustment (the PCC) will be made to better reflect a player's actual performance.
  8. Course Handicap Calculation represents the number of strokes received in relation to the par of the tees being played, thus: Course Handicap = Handicap Index x (Slope Rating/113) + (Course Rating - Par).
  9. Playing Handicap Calculation represents the number of strokes a player receives in a competition, thus: Playing Handicap = Course Handicap x Handicap Allowance.
  10. The distinction between a Course Handicap and a Playing Handicap serves two specific purposes under the new Rules of Handicapping:
    • The Course Handicap is used to adjust individual hole scores (such as Net Double Bogey and Net Par).
    • The Playing Handicap is used for net competition purposes, including determining the results and winners.


  • Course Handicap: The number of strokes you need to play to par (not to the Course Rating).
  • Target score: Par plus your Course Handicap. Playing Handicap: Your Course Handicap adjusted for any terms of a competition you're playing in, such as a handicap allowance or a difference in par.
  • Playing Handicap - Calculate handicap to play chosen format.


Contact Us

Contact Us

6550 York Avenue South, Suite 411 • Edina, MN 55435 • (952) 927-4643 • (800) 642-4405 • Fax: (952) 927-9642
© 2024 Minnesota Golf Association. All Rights Reserved