With the implementation of the World Handicap System, we answer the question – what is the maximum golf handicap? It might not be what you think…

Highest Golf Handicap

With the adoption of the World Handicap System, (WHS) all amateur golfers across the globe will be using the same handicapping system.

But under the new WHS, what is the maximum golf handicap?

The maximum Handicap Index is 54 for men and women.

Related: 49% of Handicaps Cut: Reaction

But that’s not quite the full story and a player could find themselves competing off a handicap higher than 54… Read on.

WHS calculates handicap by taking an average of the best eight of a player’s 20 most recent scores to give a “Handicap Index.”

When a new score is submitted, the Handicap Index is automatically recalculated and updated at the end of the day’s play, ready for use the following day.

Players new to golf or looking to obtain a first handicap will need to submit scorecards amounting to 54 holes.

From those, an initial Handicap Index will be provided.

This will be altered when 20 scores have been submitted to deliver a fully developed Handicap Index.

The Handicap Index, in conjunction with the difficulty of a course, gives a player their Course Handicap.

Two calculations are made – Course Rating and Bogey Rating.

Course Rating is how many strokes a scratch golfer (someone with a Course Handicap of 0) should take on that course.

Bogey Rating measures playing difficulty for a bogey golfer (someone with a handicap of roughly 20 for a man and 24 for a women).

Knowing these two ratings allows WHS to determine the difficulty of the course and to produce a Slope Rating for each set of tees which allows all golfers to work out how many strokes they will receive on a particular course – Course Handicap.

And here’s where a player could end up higher than a 54 handicap – There is no maximum Course Handicap.

At a challenging course – one where the Slope Rating is above average difficulty (for information, that is a slope rating of 113,) a player with a Handicap index of 54 will adjust their handicap accordingly to find their Course Handicap.

Their Course Handicap would then increase above 54.

At a course with a Course Rating and par of 72 and a Slope Rating of 155 (that’s the maximum Slope Rating,) a player with a Handicap Index of 54 would receive a Course Handicap of 74.

But if someone were crazy enough to build a course difficult enough to have a Course Rating of 80 and par of 72 with a Slope Rating of 155, a player with a Handicap Index of 54 would receive a Course Handicap of 82.

The answer then to the question, what is the maximum golf handicap?…

There isn’t one. It depends on the Course.

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