Handicapping: Active seasons

An Active Season is the period of time when acceptable scores from a specified area should be submitted for handicap purposes. The Rules of Handicapping stipulates that every player is responsible for submitting all acceptable scores into one’s scoring record for rounds played on courses during the active season.

It is the responsibility of authorized provincial golf associations to declare active and inactive seasons, with area clubs and players required to observe these dates for score posting purposes. To make this process easier, the Golf Canada Score Centre automatically considers the active season of the course being played when a score is posted and whether it should be included in calculating a player’s Handicap Index.

In Canada, the active season in each province is as follows:

BC =     Mar.1 – Nov.15
AB =     Mar.1 – Oct.31
SK =     Apr.15 – Oct.31
MB =    Apr.15 – Oct.31
ON =    Apr.15 – Oct.31
QC =    Apr.15 – Oct.31
NS =     Apr.15 – Oct.31
NB =     May.1 – Oct.31
PE =     Apr.16 – Nov.14
NL =     Apr.1 – Nov. 30

Scores made at any golf course observing an inactive season are not acceptable for handicap calculation purposes. This is because course conditions during inactive seasons are not consistent with the way that the Course & Slope Ratings were determined, which can impact the accuracy of a player’s Handicap Index.

Scores made at a golf course in an area observing an active season must be posted for handicap purposes, even if the golf club where the player is a member is observing an inactive season. The club’s Handicap Committee must make it possible for a player to post these away scores at the beginning of the active season.

It’s important to note that if you are travelling to other countries or regions, you should confirm their active seasons to ensure all acceptable scores are posted. Your home club needs all acceptable scores (even if played during a Canadian “off-season”) to ensure that your Handicap Index is accurate and reflects your demonstrated ability.

For example, if a player belonging to a golf club in Ontario plays golf in Florida (which observes a year-round active season) during January, any score(s) made in Florida are acceptable and must be submitted to the player’s scoring record. If the player is also a member of a golf club in Florida and Ontario, it is important to remember that all acceptable scores must be posted to each scoring record. 

The Golf Canada Score Centre has tools available to link Canadian and USGA accounts, so that a score posted to one account is automatically transferred to the other. For more information, or to set up this link, please contact members@golfcanada.ca or phone 1-800-263-0009 X399.

For a detailed list of active and inactive schedules in the United States, click here.

For more information on handicapping, click here.




The World Handicap System (WHS) was implemented in 2020 around the globe with Canada being one of the first countries to come on board in early January.

For more information on the WHS please click HERE

To go to Golf Canada's Handicapping page please click HERE

Click HERE to read John Gordon's column on the WHS for Golf Canada.


British Columbia Golf and Golf Canada are the authoritative bodies for the purposes of establishing and maintaining a uniform handicap system for golf clubs in Canada in co-operation with the provincial golf associations.

The purpose of the Golf Canada Handicap System is to make the game of golf more enjoyable for golfers by providing a means of measuring one’s performance and progress and to enable golfers of differing abilities to compete on an equitable basis.

Through this system, each golfer establishes an “Golf Canada Handicap Factor” which is a numerical measurement of a player’s potential (not actual) scoring ability on a course of standard difficulty.

The Handicap Factor is now calculated using the best 8 of the player’s last 20 rounds and updated with each new round played. The Handicap Factor travels with the golfer from course to course and is adjusted up or down depending on the length and difficulty of the course played, resulting in a “Course Handicap”. The Course Handicap is the number of strokes a golfer receives from a specific set of tees at the course played and represents the number of strokes he would require to play equitably against a “scratch” golfer (a golfer with a Handicap Factor of “0.0′). The more difficult the golf course, the more strokes the golfer receives and vice versa.

The relative difficulty of a golf course is determined jointly by Golf Canada and the provincial golf association using the Golf Canada Course and Slope Rating System. Specially trained Course Rating Teams evaluate the difficulty of a golf course based on such variables as length and a number of obstacle factors (e.g. topography, bunkers, water hazards, severity of rough, etc).

Verify Players' Handicap Factor - click here

Verify Players' Handicap Index (GHIN) - click here

Golf Course Look-up - click here

Golf Course Slope & Course Rating - search

Handicap Webinars - click here

Handicap On-Line Course - self-paced - click here

Rules, Ratings and Handicaps

British Columbia Golf administers the Rules of Golf and handicap system as developed by the world governing bodies of golf and administered in Canada by Golf Canada. We offer workshops, publications and on-the-job training to volunteers who are interested in assisting with tournaments and events around British Columbia.

World Handicap System (WHS) Online Training Seminar Videos


Any questions on Rules or Handicap? Email jerome@britishcolumbiagolf.org

Any Questions on Course Ratings? Email kojo@britishcolumbiagolf.org 

World Handicap System

The World Handicap System was implemented starting in January of 2020. You can click HERE for details on the WHS and how it came about. 

9 Things You Need to Know

1. Rules of Handicapping 

Handicapping has been compressed into 7 rules that cover the fundamentals, determining appropriate scores to post, handicap computation and administration. This way the Rules of Handicapping simulates the Rules of Golf. 

2. Handicap Factor is changing to Handicap Index

A long time ago Canada parted ways with the U.S. in using a Handicap Factor instead of an Index. But now we’re sort of going back home and the WHS will use a Handicap Index. 

3. Your Handicap Index may change 

The Handicap Index will average your eight best scores out of your most recent 20 (previously it was 10 out of 20 with a .96 multiplier). In most cases for golfers in Canada, their handicap changed less than one stroke and most likely it was downward. 

4. You need to know your Course Handicap 

Course Handicap will be the number of strokes needed to play to par. This will result in greater variance in that number and presents a change, as historically it has represented the number of strokes needed to play to the Course Rating. It is important that an accurate par be established for each hole on a golf course for both men and women. British Columbia Golf will be the final adjudicator of par. 

5. Net Double Bogey 

The maximum hole score (previously known as Equitable Stroke Control or ESC) for each player is Net Double Bogey. Net Double Bogey is Par + 2 + any handicap strokes the player receives. 

6. Safeguards in the new system 

The newest system limits extreme upward movement of a Handicap Index. WHS introduced two new concepts, Soft Cap and Hard Cap to take effect only once a player had at least 20 acceptable scores in their scoring record. There is no such cap on the amount by which a player’s Handicap Index can decrease. There is also an automatic adjustment to the Handicap Index when an exceptional score of at least 7 strokes better is posted. The exceptional score reduction will be applied whether the score is a tournament or regular play. 

7. Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC) 

PCC determines whether playing conditions on the day differed from normal conditions to the extent that an adjustment is needed to compensate. It is a daily statistical procedure that compares the scores submitted by players on the day against expected scoring patterns. PCC accounts for abnormal course or weather conditions to ensure that scores reflect when a course plays significantly different than its established Course Rating and Slope Rating. 

If a PCC adjustment is necessary, an adjustment of -1.0, 0.0, +1.0, +2.0 or +3.0 may be applied to score differentials for that day. 

8. Maximum Handicap Index 

The maximum Handicap Index that can be issued to a player is 54.0 (previously it was 36.4 for men and 40.4 for women). But the Committee in charge of a competition may set a maximum limit for entry into a competition. 

9. Stroke Index Allocation 

There is a new procedure to calculate the order of holes at which handicap strokes are to be given or received. Stroke index allocation are to be applied over 18-holes, split into six triads with each hole ranked on its playing difficulty relative to par. The difficulty of each hole can be determined objectively using hole-by-hole data provided from the Course Rating. 

In the past, Course Rating has had no bearing on stroke index allocation. 

WHS Terms and Definitions

1. Basis of Calculation of Handicap Index:

The 8 best of most recent 20 score differentials, which includes a Playing Conditions Calculation to account for any abnormal course or weather conditions.

2. Frequency of Revisions:

A player’s Handicap Index will update daily, provided the player submitted a score the day before. Otherwise, no update will take place.

3. Handicap Formula:

A general overview of the philosophy of and elements contributing to the Handicap Formula.

4. Course Handicap Calculation:

Determining the number of strokes a player receives in relation the Par of the tees being played, including a Course Rating minus Par element. This is the number that is used to determine the maximum holes score for handicap purposes.

5. Playing Handicap:

The handicap used that maximizes equity when competing by applying a handicap allowance for a specific format.

6. Net Double Bogey:

The maximum hole score for handicap purposes. This maximum is double bogey plus any handicap strokes a player receives based on their Course Handicap.

7. Maximum Handicap Index:

The maximum Handicap Index for all golfers is 54.0, regardless of gender.

8. Minimum Scores to Obtain a Handicap Index:

The minimum is 54 holes worth of scores, most often via three 18-hole scores (including nine-hole scores that are combined into 18-hole scores).

9. Acceptable Scores:

Determining which scores are acceptable for handicap purposes, focusing on playing by the Rules of Golf and playing one’s own ball.

10. Treatment of Nine-Hole Scores:

Nine-holes scores are combined in the order that they are submitted and then used to produce an 18-hole Score Differential.

11. Playing Conditions Calculation:

When abnormal course or weather conditions cause scores to be unusually high or low on a given day, a “Playing Conditions Calculation” will adjust Score Differentials to better reflect a player’s actual performance.

12. Exceptional Score Reduction:

A score that produces a Score Differential of 7.0 strokes or more below the Handicap Index will result in an Exceptional Score Reduction that changes the Handicap Index. This reduction is in addition to the normal 8 of 20 calculation and depends on how much better the Score Differential is in comparison to the Handicap Index used during the round.

13. Handicap Index Caps:

A Soft Cap and Hard Cap will be included in the calculation to limit the extreme upward movement of a Handicap Index within a 12-month period. These caps are in relation to the player’s “Low Handicap Index.”

14. Handicap Review:

An audit-like procedure by a Handicap Committee reviewing the Handicap Index of member(s) of a club to assure that the Handicap Index is reflective of demonstrated ability and scoring potential.

15. Course Rating System:

The basis for the World Handicap System. It is also an indication of the difficulty of a golf course for the scratch player under normal course and weather conditions.

16. Certification Resources:

Golf Clubs are required to complete a certification process in order to use the World Handicap System. Participation in a certification seminar and passing a test exhibiting knowledge about the World Handicap System is required.

Handicap System Workshops & Webinars

Attendees will learn how handicap factors are determined, how to compete equitably from different sets of tees, when to post scores and which scores are acceptable for posting. The role of Golf Canada, British Columbia Golf, the Handicap Committee and the Player will be clarified as will how these four groups, working together, make the handicap system work.

Please email Kojo Frempong kojo@britishcolumbiagolf.org for further information regarding workshops or webinars.

Click HERE to see the WHS seminar video put together by British Columbia Golf. This video is essentially an introduction and walk through to the World Handicap System (WHS) that is now in effect for golf worldwide. It contains overviews and Q & A on the system as well as letting golf club committees know and understand what their new roles and responsibilities are/will be. 

Provincial Course Rating Seminars

We’re always looking to develop new course raters for our rating teams. If you are interested in becoming involved in your zone, please contact our office or your zone for more information. Course raters are involved in:

  • measuring golf courses
  • evaluating obstacles and conditions that affect playing length
  • computing a Course Rating and Slope Rating based on the measurements and evaluations

Contact Kojo at kojo@britishcolumbiagolf.org for more information.

Rules of Golf Seminars 


Level 1 is an easy and interesting way to learn the basics of golf. This level focuses on the game’s etiquette, key definitions, and the most common situations in the field. As part of the Level 1 program, students can put their knowledge to the test by answering summary questions at the end of each section, before tackling the Level 1 online certification exam.

Please click here to begin Level 1.

Please note when you register to participate in the R & A Rules Academy through the Academy’s R & D Rules website, your contact information and other relevant information, including exam results, will be shared with Golf Canada. Golf Canada reserves the right to use this information to communicate with you about rules training, golf education, volunteer opportunities and golf events.


Provincial level seminars are conducted by the provincial golf associations (PA), and the curriculum will begin to look at the more important Playing Rules in detail. Some of the complexities that are found in the Rules of Golf book or the Official Guide on the Rules of Golf are introduced while also implementing on-course demonstrations (when & where permitted). The Provincial level is designed for individuals with an involvement in tournament administration, or a desire to have such an involvement. These seminars and exams are scheduled to be given online starting in February of 2021. Please check back for more information.


  • Level 1 certified (online)

Requirements to be Provincially Certified:

  • Attend and achieve a minimum of 80% on the Provincial exam, administered by the PA.
  • Complete 50 hours of on-course experience as a Referee.
  • Complete an additional 10 hours accompanying a Nationally certified Referee at a championship

Entry requirements for Provincial Certification:

Priority will be given to those who:

(maximum 30 participants)

  • have achieved 70% or better on a Level 3 exam written in 2013 or later; or
  • have achieved 70% or better on a Level 4 exam written in 2013 or later, or
  • have achieved 75% or better on a USGA Rules exam written in 2013 or later,
  • or have passed their Level 2 exam and completed the practical hours in 2013 or later.
  • have attained their Level 1 certification in the 2019 Rules of Golf.


It serves to give guidance and advice on refereeing at the highest level. This program is intended for experienced Referees who wish to improve both their technical and practical knowledge as a referee. These seminars and exams are scheduled to be given online annually. Please check back for more & updated information.


  • Provincial level certification (written and practical components completed)

Requirements to be Nationally Certified:

  • Attend and achieve a minimum of 80% on the National level exam, administered by Golf Canada.
  • Complete 100 hours of on-course experience as a Referee, including 10 of those hours accompanying a current Nationally certified Referee.

Priority for registration for the series of Rules of Golf seminars on the Rules of Golf will be given to persons who:

  • have achieved 85% or better on the Level 3 Rules Exam written in 2013 or later; or
  • have achieved 85% or better on the Level 4 Rules Exam written in 2013 or later; or
  • have achieved 70% or better on the USGA Rules Exam written in 2013 or later; or
  • have attained their Level 2 certification in the 2019 Rules of Golf.

Are you interested in hosting a workshop? If your club or group would like to have your own workshop, please contact Jerome Goddard,  Tournament Director at 604-279-2580 or 888-833-2242 or email jerome@britishcolumbiagolf.org