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What Is A Handicap In Golf

What is handicap in golf

No matter you are a beginner to golf or just start to take your rounds more seriously, knowing your handicap is a necessity when you want to participate in tournament-style formats.

When you play golf with others, do you sometimes feel like they outscore you on every hole? You feel great and confident, but the golfers playing with you do better? This is where you need to understand what a handicap is in golf.

In this article, we provide simple and practical information on golf handicap – about what it is, how it’s calculated, what’s a good or bad handicap, and how to improve your handicap.

What is a handicap in golf

Handicap in golf means how many strokes above or below par a golfer should be able to play. It’s a number that shows where on the scale of golfing skills you are.

The lower a golfer’s handicap, the more skilled they are. It’s your potential, or skill, put into a numerical measure.

Handicaps in golf are often used to judge how you, as a golfer, performed compared to your average level of play opposed to a straight head-to-head matchup. Handicaps allow golfers to compete against better performed golfers based on how they each played that day.

Remember, handicaps are based on your recent play. They will change over time as you play more rounds.

How to calculate golf handicap

How to calculate golf handicap

When you start to calculate your course handicap, track your 9 and 18-hole scores. There are two common ways to calculate a golf handicap: the generic way, and the official way.

Let’s go through the two ways and you can figure out which way to calculate your own handicap.

The Generic Handicap

The generic handicap is easier to calculate, but usually not as accurate as the official way.

To calculate your generic handicap, count the number of strokes you are over on a par.

If par is 72 for the 18-hole course you played, your average score, which is also your handicap, is 28 over par.

The Official Handicap

The official handicap is created by the USGA, it is much more accurate to calculate your handicap, so that you can choose to play with other golfers around the same level.

The USGA states that to calculate a handicap more accurately, you must establish at lease 12 rounds. Among them, the best and worst rounds are discounted.

These rounds have to be played consistently over a set amount of time, to make sure the calculation is accurate.

What is a good or bad handicap

Based on the data given, the average handicap in golf is around 15. This indicates that average golfer shoots around a 90 on a typical 18-hole course.

The maximum handicap for a male golfer is 36, and for female golfer it’s 40.

The lower the handicap, the better the golfer.

A golfer who has less than a 10 handicap means he/she’s good at their game. As a golfer, you would want to have the lowest handicap possible.

Now that you know your handicap, it will be more fun to play with other players who have similar handicaps as you. For sure this will make your game much better. Playing with golfers who have much better handicaps and a higher skill level than you? Nah, don’t do that!

How to improve your handicap

Now you know the way to calculate your handicap, and want to improve it. How?

To improve your handicap, or lower your scores, is actually quite simple. Here are some tips we gathered for you:

Improve your golf swing: your swing is essential to your play and your handicap.

Keep practicing: we know it’s not easy to drive out to practice constantly. There’s a better way to practice for golfers who want to have better handicap: using golf training aids to practice at home.

Check your golf equipment: they are very important to your play. Always make sure they are perfect so your game won’t be affected. 

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