This post was most recently updated on January 20th, 2022
Many golfers around the world use a handicap to determine what they expect to shoot on the golf course when they play. There are golfers with low handicaps that shoot close to par and others who have high handicaps that expect to shoot a score of 90 or higher.
This article will explain the golf handicap meaning and how to figure out your handicap.
What Is A Golf Handicap
A handicap in golf is a number used to measure a golfer’s skill level. It helps put a number on and separate ability between different golfers who play against each other. It is essentially the number that shows how close to par a golfer will shoot for their round.
The higher the handicap, the higher the player normally shoots. The lower the handicap, the better and lower the player tends to shoot during their round.
Before we get into the true calculations of figuring out golf handicap, a simple understanding is that a handicap is the number of strokes a golfer would shoot over par. For example if you shot an 86 on a par 72 course your handicap would be 14.
A 14 wouldn’t be the exact handicap, but it would be close to it.
An official handicap can’t be measured unless you’ve played 10-20 rounds. We will get into that as the article goes on.
You can calculate a handicap with five rounds, it just won’t be official.
How To Calculate Golf Handicap
The standard golf handicap formula is:
(Score – Course Rating) x 113 / Slope Rating
To calculate the handicap a golfer needs to use 5-20 of their most recent rounds. With the collected scores and data they can correctly calculate it. In order to find the handicap, you will need the course rating and slope rating for the golf courses you played.
You then subtract the course rating your score and multiply by 113. Then, divide the number by the slope given on a scorecard. This is how to find a golfer’s handicap.
How Is World Golf Handicap Calculated
The world handicap system came into effect in January of 2020. Both the R&A and the USGA came together to develop this newer system.
The World Golf Handicap allows players from different regions to maintain a handicap index and transport their handicap from country to country making it easier to play with golfers from around the world.
The course rating and slope ratings are the two major factors for calculating the World Golf Handicap.
The system will also include the impact from weather. For easier than normal conditions the numbers will be -1.0 ranging to +3.0 for extremely difficult conditions.
The maximum handicaps will also be raised to 54 for both men and women. Before it was 36.4 for men and 40.4 for women.
What Is The Average Golf Handicap In Golf
The average male golf handicap is a 16.1 and the average women’s golf handicap is a 28.9.
According to the USGA, only 0.95% of male golfers have a handicap of 0.1 to 1.0. This means that on average they will shoot 1-over to even par.
5.10% of them have a handicap in the middle from 15.0-15.9.
0.92% have a handicap of 35-36.4.
In terms of a larger distribution, the USGA found that in the United States, 1.6% of male golfers are scratch or better. The highest percentage of 33.1% have a handicap of 10-15. Only 2.3% had a handicap ranging between 31-36.
For women in the United States, 0.4% were scratch golfers or better. 21.1% have handicaps between 21-24 and 15.6% have handicaps between 37-40.
Average Golf Handicap By Age
Mygolfspy.com did a study that showed how differently scores are by golfer’s ages.
In the 20-30 years old category the average round’s score was an 89.7.
From 30-40 years old the average score was 91.7.
Between 40-50, the players averaged a 91.5.
From 50-60 and also 60-70, the routine score was 91.
Golfers aged 70 and overscored 93.2 for their average.
This study indicates that golfers between 20-30 have the lowest handicaps with golfers over 50 having the second best. Next, are golfers 40-50 and lastly the 30-40 age range.
There are many different factors that could impact these handicap results including free time. Most retired golfers have more time to practice and play. The athletic ability could play a role as well. Younger golfers are most likely more athletic as an age group than the other age groups.
What Is My Golf Handicap If I Shoot 110
If you calculated 10 of your best scores from your last 20 rounds and say you shot 110 in all 20 of your last rounds (highly unlikely) your handicap would be a 27.2
This is assuming that you are hitting from the tips and that the slope rating is 130 and the course rating is 70.
What Is My Golf Handicap If I Shoot 100
If you played a golf course with a par of 72 and shot a 100, which is 28 over par, then your handicap would be a 28.
Obviously slope and course rating would have to be taken into consideration but that is the basic answer.
When you play more and more rounds you can keep adjusting the handicap.
What Is My Golf Handicap If I Shoot 95
As we mentioned earlier, it is highly recommended to play 5-20 rounds before calculating your handicap to get a more accurate number.
In this example we’ll use five rounds. If you shot a 95 at a golf course with a course rating of 69.4 and a slope rating of 123 your handicap would be a 22.5
What Is My Golf Handicap If I Shoot 90
If you average around 89-91 and usually shoot 90 then the simple answer is 18.
That is the simple answer because if you played a course with a slope rating of 130 and course rating of 70, then your handicap index would be a 15.8.
The result is if you averaged 90 strokes over five rounds.
What Is My Golf Handicap If I Shoot 85
If you went out to a course with a course rating of 71 and slope rating of 128 and averaged an 85, then your handicap index would be an 11.9.
What Is My Golf Handicap If I Shoot 80
For the last example, we’ll use five different course and slope ratings. Below, the first number is the course rating and the second number is the slope rating, followed by the score. With the following data a golfer would have a handicap index of 6.9.
- Course 1: 69 124 80
- Course 2: 71 128 80
- Course 3: 70 131 80
- Course 4: 71 128 80
- Course 5: 72 125 80
Golf Handicap Of Zero
A golf handicap of zero means that the player is expected to shoot even par on a rated course with any slope or course rating. Golfers who have handicaps of zero are known as “scratch” golfers.
A generalization is that a male scratch golfer can average drives of 250 yards and reach a 470-yard hole in two shots at sea level. For a female, she can average tee shots of 210 yards and reach a 400-yard hole in two shots at sea level.
What Is A Good Golf Handicap
There is no true definition of a good golf handicap since many golfers have different abilities and can be pleased with different handicaps.
Single digit handicaps are often considered the goal for most golfers, so a good handicap is usually from 1-9. This means that more often than not, the golfer will be breaking 80.
If you ask yourself ‘what is a really bad golf handicap?’ It’s likely near the maximum handicap for men of 36.4 and 40.4 for women.
Best Golf Handicap App
Our selection for best online golf handicap app is the My Online Golf Club app. It is available on both the Google Play store and on the Apple store. The company’s website allows you to register for a free or premium account and configures a handicap for you.
They also make golf handicap cards so golfers can prove their abilities and be let onto a course. In some countries such as Spain and Portugal, you have to have proof of your ability before being allowed to play certain courses.
The application is currently ranked 86th in the Apple store and has a 4.8 rating.
Golf Handicap Lookup
Golfhandicapnetwork.com allows you to search globally for any player by their name or network number. After searching for a name, results will come up with the region they are based out of as well as their local golf course.
The website also shows their base handicap and their USGA Index handicap.
Donald Trump Golf Handicap
The President of the United States, Donald Trump has been scrutinized for how many rounds of golf he’s played during his presidency. He’s also been praised for his golf courses around the world. He says that he is an avid golfer.
Many golf fans wonder what his handicap is and how he plays on the course. Some journalists and celebrities claim he’s a very good golfer and shoots low scores. Others have come out and said that he cheats on the course.
It’s undetermined how good of a golfer Donald Trump really is. This article by Jamie Diaz at Golfworld goes into details about his experience playing golf with Trump. According to the article, Trump has a handicap of 2.8 but with a limited sample size.
Now that you know how to figure out your golf handicap it’s a good idea to calculate yours or register with your local course for one.
Having a handicap can benefit you not only by telling you what you’re expected to shoot, but also gives you access to more courses around the world. Knowing your handicap can help you get paired up with players of similar skill levels. Be sure to share your handicap thoughts in the comment section.
Lawrence Smelser is part of the Golfible editorial staff and is a freelance golf writer. Smelser has covered the PGA Tour and most recently the 2019 Masters. He holds a journalism Bachelor's degree from Texas A&M and a Master’s journalism degree from the University of North Texas