What is a Golf Handicap? (2023 Update)

As someone just starting to get serious about their rounds of golf, you will often hear people talk about the golf handicap and its relevance. A golf handicap is so crucial in competitive golf that it determines how and where you play competitive golf.

So what is a golf handicap? A golf handicap is a numerical value that represents a golfer’s ability to compete against other golfers. Measures a player’s current skill during a full round of golf represented by numbers. This value generally determines in which category a golfer can compete.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about a golf handicap, including how it works and how you can calculate your golf handicap using simple mathematical formulas.


How Does a Golf Handicap Work?

While all golfers are expected to have a handicap, it is also important to note that the rules regarding handicaps vary from country to country. Therefore, golfers have always been required to understand how golf handicap works in its various locations.

However, in a quest to eradicate incompatibility and translation difficulties between systems, the USGA worked together with the R&A and other handicap authorities to develop a new World Handicap System (WHS) that went into effect in 2020. It is based in this new handicap. system that this article developed.


Why Should I Get a Disability? (6 Reasons)

With the recent change from the USGA Handicap System to the World Handicap System, there is no better time for any player to obtain a handicap than now. However, if you’re still stuck between making the decision, here are some reasons why you should get a handicap.


1. It Enables You To Participate Fairly in Various Competition Settings.

This is possibly the most important advantage of earning a golf handicap. You probably already know that golf is a game of skill, and it’s fair to compete with people of equal ability. However, if you have decided to start going to golf competitions, you will come across golfers with different playing abilities. Handicap helps ensure that you will play fairly regardless of your ability or theirs. So whether you’re playing stroke or match, Four-Ball or Stableford, handicap helps put you on a level playing field with your opponents.


2. Helps You Keep Track Of Your Progress and Know Your Potential

Handicaps also help in tracking your development. You’ve probably heard, experienced golfers talk about handicaps that help track your progress and the rate that reflects your potential. This is true for all golfers, regardless of their level of play. Remember that every time you play and post a score, you usually receive a handicap index revision the next day. The USGA also provides a mobile app that helps you keep track of your hole-by-hole stats, as this data is important in calculating your handicap and determining your progress.


3. You Will Have an Answer To The Questions Of All Golfers

Whether you are new to the world of golf or not, one question you will always get when you meet someone new to the golf course is: “what is your handicap?”

While this may seem like an easy question, it will be quite embarrassing not knowing what or how to answer. People often find golf handicaps the easiest and most honest way to compare their golf game to theirs. Therefore, they will ask you. Therefore, it will do you a lot of good to know your golf handicap, whether for competitive or judging purposes.


4. Makes Goal Setting Easier

Whether you’re a golfer or in any other walk of life, goal setting comes naturally to everyone. Sometimes it’s as easy as reaching the next level in your field. Sometimes, it’s challenging.

Setting objectives for yourself will help you improve your golf game.. Most golfers won’t take significant steps without goals. Disadvantages generally make it easier to set goals. Let’s say you started the season with a handicap of 24; it will be easy to set the goal of exceeding 20 handicaps by the end of the season. Regardless of your current handicap, your motivation to lower the handicap will help you push yourself harder.


5. You Will Need a Handicap To Compete in Most Tournaments

Part of the fun aspects of playing golf is the chance to compete in different events and tournaments. It offers you the chance to up your game while learning about your competitive edge. An important requirement to participate in most tournaments, leagues and main events is to know your USGA handicap. This means that you will not be able to participate in these events if you do not know your disability. The governing bodies of these competitions believe that handicap gives each player/team a fair chance to compete with other participants.


6. Make it Easy To Record and Track Scores

Tracking and keeping track of your scores can be difficult if you don’t know how to do it. However, with a golf handicap, you will be able to keep good track of your scores. A free GHIN Mobile app on your phone is one of the simplest methods to keep track of your scores. The app allows you to post scores and view your stats as games progress.

Many event organizers also have computers that you can enter your scores into. Remember that having a handicap allows you to build a database of your successful scores. So if you intend to see how you performed in the previous months, you can always go to the app to see your scores for the months.


How to Calculate Your Golf Handicap

It is crucial that we mention that you do not have any existing golf handicap if you have never played golf before. However, once you start enjoying golf, you can build your handicap. Start by keeping track of your 9 and 18 hole scores. You would need a scorecard to record scores. At least two people must sign the scorecard: you and the partner who accompanies you to the game of golf. The main reason for signatures is to minimize corruption while scores are being recorded.


Number of Scores You Will Need To Get The Disability Index.

Since January 2020 the rules have changed so you will need to submit scores from 18 holes to maintain a handicap rating. This score can be obtained by combining the scores of the 9 and 18 hole rounds. The handicap index is generally reviewed at the beginning and in the middle of each month. During the bi-monthly change, you will need to submit three 18-hole scores.


Course Handicap Calculation: The Formula

As explained above, there are several apps and programs online to help you calculate your disability. You can simply sign up for these apps to calculate your disability. However, if you choose to do things the old fashioned way, here is a detailed breakdown of how you can calculate your course handicap yourself.

To calculate the handicap of a course, you will need to be familiar with several elements, including the grade of the slope, the adjusted raw scores and the handicap of the course. Other handicaps you may also need to consider include game handicap rating, course rating, and game handicap rating.


Step 1: Start by Changing Raw Scores To Adjust Scores

A simple way to obtain the adjusted raw scores is to use the USGA-recommended equitable stroke control. The ESC restricts you to a maximum number of strokes you can enter on a given hole.


Step 2: Calculate The Handicap Differential By Score

The handicap differential may be computed using the formula below.

Adjusted raw course score rating × 113/course slope scores = handicap differential.

In case you were wondering, a course’s rating represents the scores a new golfer can accumulate while playing under normal conditions. On the other hand, the slope rating means the rating of a course based on its level of difficulty.


Step 3

Choose the lowest handicap differential


Step 4

Calculate the average value of the lower values of the handicap differentials.


step 5

Multiply the mean value of the handicap differentials by 96%.


Step 6: Truncate And Delete Numbers To The Right Of The Tenth

The USGA standard rule means 40.4 as the default maximum number for any handicap index for women’s golf matches and 36.4 for men when using an 18-hole course.


Step 7: Calculation Of Course Handicap

Now that we know what all of these values represent, you can calculate your course handicap, which is the number of strokes a player takes on a course, using the following formula.

Handicap Index × Slope Index/113 + (Course Classification by) = Course Handicap.


Read Also: What is a Golf Divot?


Summary: What is a Golf Handicap?

Regardless of your level of golf, you will hear the words golf handicap every day. It is not enough to simply understand what it means. You should also know why you need to know and how to calculate your golf handicap.

Fortunately, we are over, the days when you will stress your brain to do the golf handicap calculation. Today, there are applications and computer programs that can do the job for you.

Keep in mind that you can also work on improving your golf handicap. It just means pushing yourself to break your records and doing better every time.