“Help, my handicap has changed a lot”

Has your handicap either worsened or improved since last year, last month, last week or even last tournament?

First, a “reassuring message”: You are not alone. Quite a few of our members and golfers around the world are in this situation.

In this and the following posts, I will try to discuss this phenomenon. I invite you to formulate your thoughts, suggestions and questions in the comments; I will try to integrate them into the next posts.

The following topics are planned:

  • What is the WHS?
  • How is my handicap calculated?
  • Comparison of WHS and EGA Handicap System
  • What is the point of the changes?

General remarks

Let me start with some general remarks and anecdotes about the previous system.

As you certainly do know, Luxembourg introduced the new WHS (World Handicap System) in 2021. This new system replaces the previous EGA Handicap System that we all know.

The WHS system is now valid worldwide and is used to determine a uniform measurement of playing strength. Hence it is possible to play tournaments in all countries that use the WHS and have these recognised in your home club.

The new system should represent a player’s skill level more realistically than the previous one. Instead of just considering the last tournament, the new system uses the last twenty (20) tournament results to calculate the handicap. Among these, the average of the eight (8) best scores is determined, resulting in the new handicap.

Sounds easy.

Unfortunately, as always, the devil lies in the details.

The system assumes that each player has already played 20 handicap relevant tournaments.

Christian Schock, the President of the FLG, wrote the following in his leading article on the Golf Association’s homepage: “Migration on WHS had, as expected, only minor effects on the specifications and was limited to +/- 1 point with a few exceptions. However, we were stunned to find that despite a 4-year history, only 15% of our 3,500 affiliated members have returned the 20 cards required to select the top 8 results. More than half of the players in Luxembourg have not returned any cards and have kept their historical handicap [EGA] according to the WHS rules”.

Only after 20 tournaments are considered this tendency stabilises!

But what is my right HCP now?

Well, the old soccer rule applies: “It’s offside when the referee whistles”.

For us in golf, this means: “The handicap is what PC Caddy calculates”.

What’s the point of changing the system?

Here are a few anecdotes concerning the “old” system:

  • In a tournament, player A asks player B about best behaviour and rules when teeing off.
    Usually, this is no problem, but player A has a handicap of 23.
    How is it possible that he doesn’t know?
    Player A is playing his first tournament. As the test for his green card, he played three holes with the Pro and thus received his license to play. Then he played two rounds of EDS with a friend, and as a result, he played himself to an HCP of 23.
  • Player C made his green card and is very ambitious. He trains a lot, and on trial rounds, he consistently has a handicap strength of 28. He doesn’t participate in tournaments, so his HCP is still 54.
    He plays his first tournament abroad and easily wins the net prize: a golf week in Turkey. Naturally, his HCP goes down, but of course, not to an HCP 28.
    So he can still participate in several high priced tournaments win the net score.
  • Player D has a handicap of 28 in his home club. He is a so-called “church tower golfer,” i.e. he only plays well on his home pitch. He rarely can play his handicap on other golf courses.
    On vacation, he always has problems keeping pace, and his flights are always very slow.
    His name is already known in various clubs, and he is only allowed to start very late in the evening.
  • Player E has a handicap of 28. He has only achieved this in 3 tournaments.
    After that, he never played a tournament again. Since there is no obligation to participate in tournaments, his handicap does not expire.
  • Player F has an HCP 18 Therefore his HCP can improve or worsen. As he fears that his HCP will worsen, he doesn’t compete anymore in tournaments.

The new system tries to help to resolve these issues.

In the following posts, I will try to clarify some of these points.

See you.


  1. Jos. Kettels

    Hi Marc,
    sorry for the odd question, but what’s a round of EDS please?

    1. marc

      Hi Jos,

      the question isn’t odd. EDS stands for “Extra Day Score” and was valid under the EGA Handicap rules.

      The new WHS system has a similar option.

      I will elaborate on it in a future post.


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