The Portuguese Golf Federation (FPG) has provided its first update on the planned WHS (World Handicap System), and which can be downloaded here. This is good news for the Algarve as many of the region’s golfers are members of a Portuguese golf club and also a club in another country. As a result, confusion can sometimes arise when establishing a golfer’s playing handicap, especially with no fewer than six different handicap systems across the world. Standardising the system will also support visiting golfers participating in competitions where official handicaps are required. The reported good progress of how the WHS plans are developing includes the firm expectation that very soon – in 2020 – the WHS will be in place. The new arrangement will unify all the handicap systems currently used by incorporating them into a single system, and establishing the universal handicapping arrangement. The ultimate objective is to establish and maintain the worldwide system, and ensure that it is characterised by clarity, consistency and portability.
A brief introductory video issued jointly by the R&A and USGA can now be viewed on YouTube at: ‘WHS R&A, USGA’. Also, when accessing, such as, YouTube, various other posts will be found, many of which are very helpful. Official events scheduled for this year and next are designed to keep golfers aware of how plans are progressing, and include an ‘Awareness Campaign’, featuring information videos about the system. Once again, the clear purpose of these releases is to share the principles, concepts and terminology of the WHS through uncomplicated presentations.
Another significant dimension of the implementation process will be the ‘Training Programme’ activities. These involve a structured schedule for handicap managers and sports agents, and will be released after the national training for Handicap Committees, and the international/European level training – probably over the last quarter of this year and the first half of next year. The entire range of various activities are designed to supplement the basic materials already being provided to give golfers general information and also explain the important key aspects of the new system.
With the Algarve traditionally hosting legions of visiting golfers, a unified process will assist with organising competitive tournaments in the region. Ideally, each player worldwide would have a single, portable handicap, able to be adjusted in line with such as course slope ratings, and performances. However, no matter what new system is eventually established, the fact that golfing organisations across the world are in constructive dialogue and actively collaborating is in itself a significant and positive feature of the process.
The main winners in all of this are of course the golfers of today and tomorrow who will benefit from what promises to be a major advance in the handicapping system. This latest innovation will embrace technology to give players and committees the benefit of a simplified system that is designed to be user-friendly and more efficient. Such developments are entirely consistent with the objective of encouraging today’s golfers to keep playing and also welcoming new golfers to the game. Further updates will be provided here and also in the Clubhouse Algarve magazine. Watch this space!