What is a Good Handicap in Golf?

What Is A Good Handicap In Golf

Imagine, if someone asks you to play a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather? Or a Wrestling match with Khabib Nurmagomedov? Or he might ask you to compete with Usain Bolt in a 100m sprint? What would be your answer……?

Won’t you say that this isn’t a fair play? As they are experts in their field while you are still an amateur. They have a clear advantage over you as they have years of experience in their field.

Exactly! But if you are playing Golf your disadvantage could be reduced to a great extent by the ‘Handicap System in Golf’. Let’s understand what exactly this system is—

Golf Handicap Explained

While many amateur golfers find the Handicap system difficult to understand, but in reality, this system is nothing more than a simple Maths.

Golf Handicap Definition

The USGA defines a golf handicap as a “mark that indicates the number of handicap strokes a player receives from a specific set of tees at the course being played to adjust the player’s scoring ability to the level of scratch or zero-handicap golf.”

Basically, a Handicap is the adjustment of the ability of a player relative to the ability of a pro golfer/scratch. A scratch is a pro golfer, who has a zero-handicap.

So, after you have your handicap score, it will be subtracted from your score on the scoreboard which gives you your final score. For example, let’s assume that your handicap is 8 and your score on the scoreboard is 92 then your handicap i.e. 8 will be deducted from 92 that gives you your final score 92–8= 84, isn’t this amazing?

What is the Purpose of the Golf Handicap System?

The golf handicap is used during scramble tournaments wherein golfers with different abilities are competing with each other. You can also use it while playing a friendly match with your friend who has a higher or lower handicap than yours.

Whoever between you is the weaker golfer will get a bonus of extra shots equivalent to the course handicap in order to bring both the players at an equal level.

When it comes to professional golf championships like— the U.S. Open. Handicap systems are not used in such professional events since this system is for amateur or mid-level golfers.

A pro golfer whose handicap is zero is called a scratch golfer does not have a handicap. The golfer whose handicap is around 18 is known as a bogey golfer.

What is Considered a Good Handicap Score in Golf?

There is no one-word answer or I should say that there is no single numeric value to declare a good handicap.  Good Handicap varies with each golfer and is relative to the ability of the golfer, whom you are playing with.

Simply, we can say that “ the lower the number of a handicap, the better is the player”

Low Handicap and High Handicap in Golf

As said earlier that good or low handicap varies and is judged in contrast to the years of experience the player has. For example, a handicap of 15-20 is considered as good for an amateur golfer but the same would not be considered good for the one who has spent many years playing golf.

Related Post: Best Irons for 10 Handicap

Generally, a handicap is considered as good as long as it is a single-digit number. So, if your handicap is anywhere between 0 to 10 this will be considered low. While handicap above 25 is considered as high.

Related Post: Best Irons for 20 Handicap

What is a Golf Handicap for a Beginner?

A good handicap score for you as a beginner would be anywhere below 110 for a course of 72 par. As time moves on you will get used to the course as well as learn technicalities of the game which would bring your score down. Anyone who has a final score of 100, in the beginning, is performing better than an average golfer.

Related Post: Best Golf Drivers for Beginners

Average Golf Handicap by Age

I won’t recommend you to compare your handicap with the average handicap of your age group because it is more dependent on the experience rather than age. However, for the one who is curious to know about the average handicap on the basis of age, the following table may help:

Age Group Average score
20-30 90
30-40 92
40-50 92
50-60 91
60-70 92
Overall Average 91

You might be surprised that the average handicap score of the age group 50-60 is better than the former. This is because of the two reasons firstly, age does not affect the performance in golf directly. This is proved by the research performed by Bert Hayslip, Jr., Trent A. Petrie published on the Oxford Academic website. Here’s the link—

Age, Psychological Skills and Golf Performance

Secondly, this age group has a lot of time to spend on the course to practice and improve their game.

What is a good Handicap in Golf for a man and woman?

The ability to play golf varies a lot with gender. Both genders have a handicap and knowing your handicap is crucial to ascertain where you stand in the list. Approximately the average handicap for a male golfer is about 16 and that of a female is 28.9.

What percentage of golfers are single-digit Handicap?

Though everyone you meet would say that he’s a single-digit handicap golfer but the stats say that this is not the case. According to the USGA, only 31.31% of the golfers have a handicap below 10. While only 0.92% have a handicap below 1.

Getting an Official Handicap

To get an official USGA Handicap Index you must register to a golf club authorized by USGA Handicap Index, you must join a golf club authorized by the USGA and submit your golf scores to the authorities for calculating your Handicap index. If you are unable to find a club, you always have an option to form your own club with at least 10 members.

Golf Handicap Calculation

There are three important variables used for the calculation of course handicap. These variables are:

  1. Golf Handicap Index
  2. Course Rating
  3. Slope Rating

Golf Handicap Index

After you have registered yourself to an authorized golf club the next step is to record your scores. You are required to submit the best 8 scores out of 20 scores for 18-holes. Then your  Golf index will be calculated by multiplying the average of 8 scores by 0.96. Formula:

Usga Handicap Index

Handicap Index= Avg. of the Best 8  from 20 scores × 0.96.

The course rating is the score that shows what a scratch golfer is likely to score on the course. This indicates the ease or difficulty of the course. Generally, the difficult course scores are above par and on an easy course, it would be below par.

Slope Rating

A Slope Rating is a number that indicates the difficulty of the course. This anticipates what a bogey golfer is likely to score on the course. Generally, this is set between 55 being easy and 155 being very difficult. The numerical value of slope reading is the difference between the skills of a scratch golfer to a bogey golfer.

Course Handicap Formula

Finally, after you have all the readings your course handicap will be calculated by using the formula:

What Is A Good Handicap In Golf

Course Handicap=

Handicap Index × [SR/113] + [C.R.– PAR]

You may watch the video Calculation of Golf Handicap for better understanding.

Golf Handicap Calculation Online

You can also calculate your handicap online by using different apps. The second option is to go directly to the Website of USGA and calculate your handicap by simply entering your rereadings. Here is the link

World Handicap System

Earlier there were different rules for calculating handicap in different regions which were very confusing but since 2011 major governing bodies of golf The R&A and the USGA were working together to create a single uniform handicapping system to be used everywhere in the World. In the year 2018, they announced that the World Handicap System (WHS) would be launched in 2020. Finally, in January this year, the system was launched. Follow the links for more information and FAQs.

FAQ’S:

Is it better to have a high or low handicap in golf?

The lower the handicap, the better is the player.

What's the worst handicap in golf?

For men, the maximum handicap allowed is 36.4 and for females, it is 40.4

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