Playing Handicap Explained


WHS handicap… course handicap… playing handicap… it’s a little overcomplicated, isn’t it?

But once you know what these terms mean, it’s not so bad.  We will lay it out in simple terms here so there is no confusion.

Golfers just want to play golf and have the handicaps easy to do.  That’s where course handicap comes in with the relevant calculators to make it a, b, c.

Let’s get cracking:

The first new handicap is your world handicap system (WHS) index.

This is what you get from your relevant golf association body.  In Ireland, that is Golf Ireland and we can access that and find it via  You also currently have to be a member of a club to get an official WHS handicap.

When you know that index you can go to any course in GB & I on our app and find your course handicap for any tee box.

Your course handicap is calculated using the formula of WHS index x Slope rating/113 = Course Handicap.

The average of easy and hard is deemed to be 113, so if the slope rating is higher than that it will increase your handicap on that course (or vice versa).

For example, let’s say your general index exact is 10.1 and you are playing Galway GC off the blue tees.  You locate Galway on and you will find the slope rating off the blue is 125.

So your course handicap is going to be 10.1 x 125/113=11.1

That is then rounded off to 11 before you calculate the playing percentage.

In singles the playing handicap percentage will nearly always be 95%.  So in this case 95% of 11 is 10.4, which means the players singles playing handicap will be 10.

In Scotland, to complicate matters (I don’t know why the unions don’t do it all the same way), the course handicap is not rounded off to the nearest full number before taking the 95% for playing handicap.  So in the above case the playing handicap for singles would be 95% of 11.1 which is 10.5, and the player would have a playing handicap of 11.

But all you really need to know is your general index, the slope rating of the tee markers you are playing off and use our calculators on to you the correct answer.

Note: we will have the Scottish calculators changed to their format early next week.

Hope this helps you.

Remember to register today on and you will enter the draw for a fourball for Doonbeg International Golf Links.  If you are already signed up you are in for that, however please share this with your friends so they will also have a chance to win too.


Brian Timlin


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