This month, we look at the soft and hard caps that are part of the World Handicap System. These are in place to safeguard handicap indexes from increasing too quickly.
A player’s World Handicap System Index is designed to represent a player’s ability rather than their most recent form. This is the reason why only the best eight scores from the last 20 are used to calculate a index. This weighted average results in a faster downward correction of Handicap Index (HI) and a slower increase in an HI. It is also the reason why it is necessary to cap the amount a player’s handicap can increase from their lowest Index of the previous 12 months.
Low Handicap Index
The WHS system records a player’s Lowest Index in a rolling twelve-month period. This can be seen on your scoring record, and it is then used as a base level to ensure that a player’s HI doesn’t increase too quickly or by too much. So while the system allows a player’s handicap index to move up and down, either due to changes in form or due to the seasons, it restricts the player’s HI from increasing too much. This is done with a Soft Cap and a Hard Cap.
The soft cap is triggered when a player’s Handicap Index increases by more than three shots off the player’s lowest HI from the previous 12 months. Once the soft cap is triggered, a player’s HI increase is limited to 50% of the increase over three strokes. So, if a player’s HI increases by, say, four shots from their low index, the system will allow three strokes plus 50% of one stroke, and their HI will be increased by 3.5 strokes and not 4.
When a player’s soft cap limited increase gets to five strokes above their Low Handicap Index, then the system stops any further increase in the player’s HI until the player’s low HI allows a further increase in the calculation. So the Hard Cap is Low HI + 5.
There is no restriction on a player’s downward HI movement on the basis that if the player has the ability to score lower than their index, then this should be reflected in their HI quickly.
Quote of the Month
“The most important shot in golf is the one you’re about to hit.” – Unknown
The Handicaps Team