what is a handicap

What Is A Handicap In Golf? December 2023

When you love playing golf, you may occasionally feel up against players who consistently outperform you. It may get annoying when you play a solid golf game but your playing partners perform better than you.

Would you prefer playing golf evenly with the other members of your foursome? Thus, this is where having handicaps in golf may help you. You must know what is a handicap in golf.

What is a handicap in golf? 

Thus, you can play against golf players who have the comparable or same handicaps. Thus, a golf player can be more competitive.

Moreover, when playing with other people, you want the system to be of high quality and fair. Everyone can enjoy the game because they are competing with golfers who have similar skill levels to them.

Don’t you know what a disability is? You must understand how to determine your handicap. It will help you locate golf partners. You may continue reading to understand golf handicaps. Here you can understand what handicaps are, how you can determine them, and how this system functions.

Follow this article to learn about what is a good handicap in golf.

What is a Handicap in Golf?

A handicap in a golf game is a numerical representation of a golf player’s competence or potential. It’s an adjusted gross score that can indicate where a golfer falls on a spectrum of golf game proficiency.

Thus, the lowest handicaps may belong to the top golf players. It is based on the fact that they need fewer strokes to send the golf ball into the hole.

What is a handicap in golf

Do you know about the golf handicap system of an extremely skilled golf player? He would likely have a handicap of less than 10. On an 18-hole golf course, a player with that low of a handicap would take, on average, 82 strokes.

Thus, knowing your handicap in golf may give you the opportunity to play against other golf players whose handicap is comparable to you.

When you aren’t playing against golf players who have better skills and possess better handicaps than you, it may be highly rewarding. Hence, it will let a golf player feel like he is playing a golf game in a better way.

How is a Golf Handicap Calculated?

You can calculate a handicap in golf in several ways. United States Golf Association (USGA) has developed the official method for handicap calculation. However, the generic method to calculate handicaps is simpler but it is less precise.

What is a good handicap in golf? we will get your answer by reading this.

Let’s examine both approaches to calculating a golf handicap.

Generic Handicap

This computation is simpler. But, it is not necessarily as precise as the official method. Let’s discuss how to determine your handicap by generic method without further ado. You simply keep track of how many strokes you are over par. For example, your handicap would be 28 if you shot a 100 on a par 72 golf course.

We know that this method of calculating a par is less accurate. But, it is simpler if you only want a broad overview of where you stand in the game of golf.

Official Handicap

In order to play with golf players who are close to your skill level, the USGA has developed this method to calculate handicaps. It is far more precise. The USGA mandates that a golf player should complete a minimum of 12 official rounds of golf.

Thus, it will help to appropriately compute a handicap in golf. The worst and greatest rounds are typically ignored. It enables you to discover a more realistic portrayal of your golf game abilities.

Moreover, no golf player can play these rounds continuously. Instead, you must play these rounds repeatedly over a predetermined time. Hence, it will be the best option for calculating handicaps in golf to be precise.

Consider The Following Things While Calculating Your Handicap in Golf

Let’s discuss how to get a good handicap in golf:

  • You must have the results of at least 12 rounds of a golf game. However, you can figure it out in as few as 5 rounds. But it is more precise with at least 12 rounds.
  • Calculate your adjusted score: For each hole, the USGA has established a maximum score. Thus, you have to achieve that maximum score. The score is 10 if you are going to calculate your handicap for the first time. Don’t you know why it does matter? Basically, it implies that your ultimate score is deducted for each shot you make over ten. Thus, you are able to make the necessary adjustments once you have calculated the handicap.

Now, instead of using 10, you will use:

  • The maximum score will be 10 for handicaps of 40 or higher.
  • For handicaps 0 and 39, the maximum score will be 9.
  • Similarly, the maximum score will be 8 for handicaps between 20 and 29.
  • The maximum score is 7 for the handicap range of 10 to 19.
  • A handicap of 0 to 9 may only result in a double-bogey.
  • Locate the slope: You must keep in mind that the slope and rating are two different things. The rating is a number. It may indicate the degree of challenge the golf course may present to scratch golfers. In golf, the slope is determined by how many golf players make bogey. Generally, the slope rating is stated on scorecards, or you can inquire in the pro shop. For instance, your average is 18 over par and the par is 70. Thus, a bogey golf player would receive an average score of 88.
  • Finally, we must do the math: You must add the course rating from step 2 to your modified score and then deduct it. In the next step, you must divide that number by 113. After that, you must divide the obtained result by the slope rating from Step 3. Hence, you will get the answer to the question, “What is my handicap?”

Here we have seen that it’s simpler to calculate your handicap in golf average using the general approach. As one might anticipate, it is not nearly as precise as the USGA’s official handicap score.

Thus, finding other golf players to play with who are at or near your skill level is significantly more possible if you know your official handicap.

Golf Average Score

According to the USGA system of handicapping, the average Handicap Index®:

  • The good handicap in golf for men is 14.2
  • For women is 27.5

The Use Of USGA Handicaps in Competing Fairly

If a golf player with a 5-handicap and a golf player with a 20-handicap are playing head-to-head, the 5-handicap golf player should always prevail.

The 20-handicapped golf player, who is the worst, wouldn’t find that amusing. Thus, it would be unlikely for the 5-handicap golfer to get the 20-handicap to play for anything too important.

Better golf players can grant the wrong amount of strokes to weaker golf players. It is because of the USGA handicap system.

Utilizing Handicaps For Golf in Stroke Play

Our 5-handicapper golf player might beat the 20-handicapper golf player by 15 strokes in a stroke-play match (the difference between their two handicaps).

The 20-handicap golf player would need to shoot a 93 to tie or a 92 to win if the 5-handicap golf player had shot a 78.

  • A five-handicap golfer player’s score is 78 – 5 strokes for the Handicap Index® = 73 net score.
  • A 20-handicap golf player’s score is 93 – 20 strokes for the Handicap Index®  = 73 Net score

The Use Of handicaps In Matchplay

To use handicaps in match play, you must first calculate the handicap differential in handicaps between the two golf players.

    • The 5-handicap golf player would award the 20-handicap golf player 15 strokes if the same golfers from the previous case were used.
    • On the 15 toughest holes (numbered 1 through 15 on the scorecard), the golf player with a 20 handicap would receive one shot.
    • The hole would be knotted if the golf player with the 20-handicap received a five on a par-5 hole where they were given a stroke and the golfer with the 5-handicap received a four. Instead, the golfer with a 20 handicap would triumph if they both scored a five on the hole.

    In cases where a golfer receives more than 18 strokes in match play, they first get one stroke on every hole, then an additional stroke on the most challenging holes.

    For example, a golfer given 21 strokes would get two strokes on the three most difficult holes and one stroke on every other hole.

    A Golf Handicap May Give You More Ways to Enjoy the Golf Game

    •  It is a fact that everyone who plays golf has to get a good handicap in golf. In many ways, it will enable a golfer to obtain greater enjoyment from the golf game.
    • You can play any other golfer in a fair match thanks to your handicap index. Thus, it makes no difference if they are a touring professional golfer or a beginner.
    • You can have easier access to online competitions. Golf competitions are exciting. However, in a poor match, most golf players have little chance. In a Net competition, every golf player gets an opportunity to take home the trophy.
    • Finally, a handicap in golf is the ideal tool for tracking your development over time. Golf is one of the few sports that one can play from age 5 to 105.

    Thus, keep track of your handicap over time to see if it is decreasing. It can help you set your own goals.

    Moreover, you may set your aim at the start of each golf season. Hence, try to cut 2–5 strokes off of your handicap index. There is no reason not to establish a handicap if you enjoy playing golf. Hence, you must try it now.

    How to Establish a Golf Handicap?

    You must understand that obtaining an official golf handicap is more important rather than attempting to calculate and maintain it yourself.  Thus, you must obtain a handicaps index. The good thing is that you can do it simply at a reasonable price.

    Moreover, there are various choices to establish a handicap in golf. But GHIN (Golf Handicap Information Network) is one of the most well-liked methods. The GHIN phone app has a number of features that golf players adore. Hence, it is quick and simple to post a score utilizing it.

    First, you have the option to enter your round’s stats each time you post a score. Thus, you can track your fairways, greens, and putts with the mobile app.

    Even if you frequently miss shots to the left or right, it will also tell you about it. You must register with a golf association or your local golf course pro shop to determine your golf handicap.

    An official golf handicap only costs $25–$50 per year. You can participate in Net tournaments using your golf handicap once you have one. Hence, face off against golf players from your city, your country, or the entire world on an even playing field.


    Everyone who plays golf ought to establish a handicap. It will enhance your gaming experience in a number of ways. You may compete fairly against any other golf player thanks to your handicap index. Moreover, it allows you access to online competitions.

    Last but not least, using a golf handicap to track your game development over time is ideal. Golf is a unique sport that may be played from the age of 5 to 105. We have also seen how to calculate a handicap in golf.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    For both men and women, the maximum number of Golf Australia (GA) Handicaps under the new World Handicap System is 54.  Male golf players average 16.93, while female golf players average 26.73, according to GA.

    It is not necessary to have a handicap to play a round of golf.  The most crucial factor is to play golf and have fun.

    A handicap is a terrific approach. It is essential to keep track of your performance. It tells you about your ability level. Moreover, you can use it to compete socially.  You need a handicap if you want to participate in official contests.

    A golf player’s local golf course or club, or an authorized virtual handicap supplier, are the only places to get an official handicap. After submitting their application, golf players submit their three 18-hole rounds’ worth of scores. Following the calculation of these scores, a golf handicap is given.

    A golf handicap can be as high as 54. The lesser a golf player’s handicap is, the better his game will be. A golfer with zero handicaps is known as a “scratch golfer” because they typically take no strokes. A golf player with a 54-stroke maximum handicap will be given 54 shots.

    A high-handicap golf player has a handicap of at least 20. They frequently shoot in the upper 90s or higher each round. A golfer with a mid-handicap is one who has a course handicap of between 10 and 20 and normally shoots between 80 and 90.

    A low-handicap golfer is a player with a handicap of 9 or less, who generally shoots in the 70s

    A good handicap in golf is generally considered to be around 10 to 15 for male golfers and 20 to 25 for female golfers, although it can vary based on the golfer’s skill level and the course difficulty.

    Lower handicaps indicate better players, while higher handicaps suggest less experienced or less skilled golfers. Ultimately, a good handicap is relative to the individual golfer’s goals and the level of competition they engage in.

    In golf, there is no fixed upper limit for a handicap. Handicaps are calculated based on a golfer’s recent scores, and they can theoretically go as high as necessary to accommodate a golfer’s performance.

    However, in practice, handicaps that exceed 36 for men and 40 for women are rarely seen in official play. These values are typically considered the upper limit for golf handicaps in many countries and organizations. Golfers with very high handicaps often play primarily for recreational purposes.

    A plus handicap in golf is a handicap index that is lower than zero. It indicates a golfer who consistently scores better than the course’s standard scratch score, which means they are an excellent player.

    Plus handicaps are typically seen among elite or professional golfers. The lower the plus handicap, the better the player. For example, a golfer with a +3 handicap is considered to be a more accomplished player than someone with a +1 handicap.

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