Handicap Program at RHGC

RHGC Handicap Program/Policy

The RHGC Handicap Program exists to provide the club’s members with USGA certified handicap indexes which in turn helps provide a level playing field for all participants in club-sponsored events. These handicap indexes will also enable members to play in any USGA/WHS sanctioned-event worldwide. 

Two basic premises underlie the World Handicap System (WHS), namely 1) each player will try to make the best score at each hole in every round, regardless of where the round is played, and 2) the player will enter every acceptable score for peer review before midnight local time on the day of play.  Players and the player's Handicap Committee have joint responsibility for ensuring the Rules of Handicapping are being implemented and administered appropriately.

This document is organized to follow the Sections in USGA/WHS Rules of Handicapping dated January 2024.  



Rule 1: Purpose and Authorization; Responsibilities; Obtaining a Handicap Index

  1. The World Handicap System (WHS) includes the Rules of Handicapping and the Course Rating System.  Its purpose is to enhance the enjoyment of the game of golf and give as many golfers as possible the opportunity to:
    1. Obtain and maintain a Handicap Index
    2. Use their Handicap Index on any golf course around the world, and
    3. Compete, or play a casual round, with anyone else on a fair and equal basis.
  2. Players and the Handicap Committee jointly play an important role in ensuring the Rules of Handicapping are being implemented and administered appropriately.  Their main responsibilities are:



  • Act with integrity by following the Rules of Handicapping and to refrain from using, or circumventing, the Rules of Handicapping for the purpose of gaining an unfair advantage,
  • Attempt to make the best score possible at each hole,
  • Submit acceptable scores for handicap purposes as soon as possible after the round is completed and before midnight local time,
  • Submit acceptable scores to provide reasonable evidence of their demonstrated ability,
  • Play by the Rules of Golf, and
  • Certify the scores of fellow players.


Golf Club/Handicap Committee

  • RHGC, as a member Club of an Authorized Golf Association of the USGA, is responsible for ensuring the Handicap Index of those members who have designated RHGC to be their Home Club is administered in accordance with the requirements of the Rules of Handicapping.
  • RHGC Handicap Committee is responsible for ensuring compliance with the club’s specified obligations and responsibilities under the Rules of Handicapping.
  1. RHGC uses the USGA Golf Handicap & Information Network (GHIN) system to manage handicap indexes for its Club members.  Members who do not have a current GHIN number, or do not have a certified handicap from another source, will not be allowed to enter RHGC tournaments, leagues, or other RHGC-sponsored events for which a certified handicap is required. 
  2. A member can request a GHIN number by emailing the Handicap Director at rhgchandicaps@gmail.com.



Rule 2: Scores Acceptable for Handicap Purposes

The scores a player submits for handicap purposes are at the core of the calculation of their Handicap Index.  Rule 2 covers the conditions a score must satisfy for it to be acceptable for handicap purposes, providing confidence that it will produce reasonable evidence of the player’s ability and, ultimately, a Handicap Index that is reflective of demonstrated ability. 

  1. Members must post scores of all acceptable rounds played under the Rules of Golf – including Match Play and rounds played at RHGC or at any other rated course. 
  2. A score is acceptable for handicap purposes if the round has been played:
    1. In an authorized format of play, 
      1. For an 18-hole score to be acceptable for handicap purposes, a minimum of 10 holes must be played.
      2. For a 9-hole score to be acceptable for handicap purposes, all 9 holes must be played. If a player has not played 9 holes, the score is not acceptable for handicap purposes.
        1. Note: An acceptable 9-hole score must be played over 9-holes with a current Course Rating and Slope Rating (holes 1-9 or 10-18, not a combination)
    2. In the company of at least one other person, who may also act as a marker,
    3. By the Rules of Golf,
    4. On a golf course with a current Course Rating and Slope Rating.
    5. For more information follow this link  
  3. A scramble or round of golf played for practice or social (e.g., playing with your kids for fun) would not be considered acceptable. In these situations, book your tee time in ForeTees using the “SCR” or “OTH” label. 
  4. Any round, including Match Play, in which 10 holes are played, should be posted as an 18-hole round for handicap purposes.   Rounds of 9-holes should be posted as 9-hole for handicap purposes
  5. RHGC Tournament scores are verified for accuracy and posted by the Tournament Committee, members must not post their own tournament scores.  Effective January 2020 with the WHS system, these scores are denoted in scoring record with a “C” (Competition).


Rule 3: Adjustment of Hole Scores

A score for handicap purposes should not be overly influenced by one or two bad holes that are not reflective of a player’s demonstrated ability. In addition, incomplete scores and/or scores where a player did not hole out on every hole can provide reasonable evidence of the player’s ability and can be used for handicap purposes.   Rule 3 covers the circumstances where scores may be acceptable and how scores should be adjusted.

  1. When a member enters their score, he/she MUST take into account the maximum score that can be recorded per hole for handicap purposes, known as the adjusted gross score.  The adjusted gross score for those with an established Handicap is limited to a net double bogey (par + 2 + number of strokes based on the hole index). For those who have not established a Handicap, the maximum adjusted gross score for each hole played is limited to par + 5 strokes.  For more information see Adjustment of Hole Scores.
  2. Hole Not Played: Where the minimum number of holes has been completed and the reason for a player not playing a hole is valid, the score recorded for unplayed holes for handicap purposes is net par.  This includes when the outcome of a competition has been decided before all holes have been completed and the player decides to play any of the remaining holes, the actual scores for the remaining holes must be recorded.
  3. Hole Not Completed: When a player starts a hole but does not hole-out for a valid reason, (for example, a conceded hole or putt in Match Play), the player must record their most likely score or net double bogey, whichever is lower, as appropriate for the situation and depending on the format of play.


Rule 4: Submitting a Score

Rule 4 covers the process for the submission of acceptable scores for handicap purposes, both to obtain an initial Handicap Index and to maintain an established Handicap Index.  Timely submission of scores by a player, or anyone else responsible or authorized to submit scores on their behalf, allows for responsive updates and provides a real-time measure of the player’s golfing ability.  The Rules of Handicapping rely on the accurate and timely submission of all acceptable scores.

  1. All acceptable scores must be posted before midnight local time on the day of play.  The WHS calculates each player's Handicap Index at midnight EST or EDT.  Scores must be submitted immediately following play to ensure that: they are included in the daily “Playing Conditions Calculation”, they are available for peer review, and the Handicap Index can be updated ready for the next day, or soon after.
  2. It is strongly recommended by RHGC to use the hole-by-hole scoring option within the GHIN Handicap system to enter your gross scores. The system calculates your adjusted gross score automatically to determine your Handicap Index. But should you use a different app, it is required to use the hole-by-hole function for proper handicapping
  3. A score posted into the player’s scoring record must be a) An acceptable score, and b) Recorded in the correct chronological order, even if the score is submitted on a day later than the date the round was played.
  4. Any errors or omissions a player’s scoring record should immediately be brought to the attention of the Handicap Director for review and correction, if needed.
  5. The Handicap Committee will monitor score postings for compliance.  The Committee is authorized to post a penalty score when a player fails to submit an acceptable score from an authorized format of play in a timely manner.



Rule 5: Handicap Index Calculation

A player’s Handicap Index should represent their demonstrated ability and, where appropriate, be responsive to scores that are inconsistent with their demonstrated ability.  Rule 5 covers the process of calculating a Handicap Index and incorporates several safeguards needed to help ensure that a player’s Handicap Index remains reflective of their ability and that equity is retained for all golfers. To review the handicap calculation, please follow this link.


The majority of these calculations and safeguards are systematically handled by the GHIN system. The following are areas where the Handicap Committee is authorized to make manual adjustments.

  • 5.2 Initial Handicap Index for Fewer Than 20 Scores - Based on evidence available about a player’s demonstrated ability, the Handicap Committee may modify a player’s initial Handicap Index.
  • 5.7 Low Handicap Index - where a Handicap Committee applied adjustment increases a player’s Handicap Index, the Committee will consider resetting the player’s Low Handicap Index.
  • 5.9 Submission of an Exceptional Score - the Handicap Committee is permitted to override any adjustment for an exceptional score (denoted in scoring record as “E”) if it considers that the adjustment would result in a player’s Handicap Index not being a fair reflection of their demonstrated ability.


Rule 6: Course Handicap, Playing Handicap, and Competition Handicap Calculation

  1. The Course Handicap calculation converts a Handicap Index to the number of strokes a player requires to play any golf course with a Course Rating and Slope Rating. This allows portability of a player’s Handicap Index wherever they play. To review Course Handicap, follow this link
  2. The Playing Handicap - In some forms of competitions, handicap allowances are used to adjust Course Handicaps to make the competitions equitable. Within the Rules of Handicapping the adjusted Course Handicap will be referred to as Playing Handicap. This calculation is applied when playing in a format for which a handicap allowance has been applied for equity (for example, 85% in four-ball stroke play). To review Playing handicap follow this link.
  3. The RHGC Competition Handicap - In an effort to ensure fair and equal competitions at RHGC, the Handicap Committee and the Tournament Committee will review posted competition scores of all registered players and using the same formula as the World Handicap System (WHS) handicap index, calculate a RHGC Competition Handicap. The Handicap Committee and Tournament Committee will then assign the lower handicap between the WHS handicap index and the RHGC Competition Handicap for that competition.. 

6.3.1 The RHGC Competition Handicap is calculated the same way as the WHS Handicap Index, but uses only competition scores. The WHS calculates the Handicap Index based on a player’s previous  scores (whether recreational or competition scores). The RHGC Competition Handicap is based on the player’s previous competition-only scores:


Number of Score Differentials in competition scoring record

Score Differential(s) to be used in the calculation of Competition Handicap



WHS Handicap Index



Lowest differential



Lowest differential



Lowest differential



Average of lowest 2 differentials



Average of lowest 2 differentials



Average of lowest 3 differentials



Average of lowest 4 differentials



Average of lowest 5 differentials



Average of lowest 6 differentials



Average of lowest 7 differentials



Average of lowest 8 differentials



6.3.2 This review will be completed for all entrants of each competition. 

6.3.3 Should the RHGC Competition Handicap be assigned, it will only be for the current competition and will not impact the player’s WHS calculated handicap.



Rule 7: Committee Actions

The Handicap Committee plays a vital role in the successful administration of a player’s Handicap Index and is equipped with tools to intervene when the calculated Handicap Index is no longer reflective of the player’s demonstrated ability.   Used appropriately, these tools are designed to ensure that players are treated fairly and consistently from golf club to golf club.  The Committee in charge of the competitions also plays an important role in setting appropriate Terms of the Competition for all participating players.

Missing Score Reviews and Penalty Scores

  1. If a player fails to submit an acceptable score in a timely manner, the Handicap Director/Committee will investigate the reason for a score not being submitted and take appropriate action.  If the player’s score should have been submitted and is discoverable, the score should be posted.  If the player’s score is not discoverable , a penalty score may be posted. This penalty score will be shown as “P” in the player’s scoring record. A “P” score is entered and players can follow-up after seeing it in their GHIN scoring record. Per WHS Rules of Handicapping, the Handicap Committee does not have to provide the player with notice before posting a penalty score. 
  2. Where the Handicap Director subsequently becomes aware of the player’s actual score after a penalty score was posted, the actual score should also be posted to the player’s scoring record. The Handicap Director has discretion to keep or remove the penalty score on the player’s scoring record
  3. In the most serious cases, e.g. repeated failure to submit acceptable scores, the Committee has discretion to apply additional penalty scores, reset player’s Handicap Index or consider other disciplinary procedures.

Handicap Reviews/Peer Reviews

  1. For the purpose of Peer Review, Handicaps and Recent Scores are available at any time at www.ghin.com under “Golfer Lookup”.  You can also review your missing scores on ForeTees (under “Handicaps / View Handicaps and Scores / Peer Review Reports“).  Peer Review is essential in maintaining the integrity of the Handicap Program and is everyone’s responsibility. A Peer Review of a player’s handicap and scoring record may be requested to the Handicap Director by any member of the club at any time. 
  2. Handicap Committee reviews of a player’s Handicap Index will be done using the procedures set out in the Rules of Handicapping and considering all available information related to the player’s demonstrated ability, including the GHIN Admin Portal reports.
  3. As strongly recommended by the USGA, the Handicap Director will also perform Handicap Reviews for all players at least annually to ensure that the integrity of the World HC System is maintained. 

Manual Adjustments of Handicap Index

  1. After considering all available evidence the Handicap Committee may decide to make an adjustment to the system generated handicap index to better reflect their demonstrated ability. This adjustment can be made by either a) Resetting the Handicap Index by applying an adjustment to each of the most recent 20 score differentials in the scoring record, to achieve the chosen Handicap Index or b) Freezing/modifying the Handicap Index for a defined period of time as determined by the Handicap Committee, in which case the  player’s Index will then be denoted by an “M”.
  2. Any adjustment to a player’s handicap index resulting from a Handicap Review 1) will be applied only after the player has been informed and had the opportunity to respond to the Handicap Committee and 2) be limited to the adjustment range documented in the Rules of Handicapping. 
  3. If a member deliberately or repeatedly fails to comply with the player’s responsibilities under the Rules of Handicapping, the Handicap Committee reserves the right to withdraw that individual from the RHGC Handicap Program.  The withdrawal of a player’s Handicap Index will be applied only after the player has been informed and has had an opportunity to respond to the Handicap Committee.   The player will be notified of the length of time their Handicap Index will be withdrawn and any additional conditions.
  4. The Handicap Committee will determine when to reinstate a player’s Handicap Index.  After a player’s Handicap Index has been reinstated, the Handicap Committee should monitor the player's Handicap Index closely over subsequent rounds and, where required, make appropriate adjustments.


The RHGC Board of Directors and Handicap Committee are committed to helping make your golfing experience at RHGC an enjoyable one. At the same time, we ask all members who use the handicap system to be cognizant of their individual responsibilities while playing, using the system and maintaining the integrity of their individual handicaps in accordance with the USGA Rules of Handicapping and Club’s Handicap Program.


For further information on the WHS, go to https://www.usga.org/handicapping/roh/2020-rules-of-handicapping.html

If you have any questions, please contact the RHGC Handicap Director at rhgchandicaps@gmail.com.


Jonathan D'Antoni

Handicap Director



Updated: May 2024