# How To Calculate A Golf Handicap

## The Golfer's Dilemma

A Golfer’s ability is a hard thing to measure. Some Golfers drive the ball well but cannot putt. Others do not drive the ball very well but have great short games and putt well. Besides the score of a single round, it is hard to tell how golfers match up against each other. That is where a golf handicap comes in.

A Golf handicap is a numerical measure of a golfer’s playing ability. The handicap is used to calculate a net score from the number of strokes actually played. This allows players of different abilities to play each other of equal terms.

A Golf Handicap is easy to read. The higher the handicap for a player, the poorer golfer that player is. The Golf Handicap is meant to measure how well a player would stand up against a “scratch” golfer; someone who shoots par for the course.

## The Formula - Five Rounds

A player’s golf handicap is calculated with a mathematical formula. The formula calculates the approximate amount of strokes over par a player should be able to play. A Golf handicap is determined by subtracting the player’s handicap from the number of strokes actually taken. In short, after a golfer plays at least five rounds of golf, the golfer can calculate a golf handicap.

To determine a golf handicap under the USGA standards after playing five rounds of golf. :

1). Take the scores for the last five rounds of golf played;

2). Look up the rating and slope of the courses where the last five rounds of golf were played;

3). Subtract the course rating from the score earned on each respective course;

4). Multiply that number by 113;

5). Divide that number by the slope of the course to determine what is known as the course differential; and

6). Take the lowest of the five course differentials and multiply that number by 0.96.

That number is the golf handicap.

## The Formula - Twenty Rounds

To determine a golf handicap under the USGA standards after playing twenty rounds of golf:

1). Take the scores for the last twenty rounds of golf played;

2). Look up the rating and slope of the courses where the last twenty rounds of golf were played;

3). Determine the course differential. Using the score, rating and slope of each course and round, input the numbers in the following mathematical formula:

differential = (score – rating) X 113/slope.

For example, if a golfer scored a 100 at a course with a 72.7 rating and slope of 129 the equation would read as follows:

Differential = (100 - 72.7) * 113 /129 = 23.91395

4). List the 10 lowest differentials and the compute their average; and

5). Multiply the average by 0.96 percent and the result is the handicap.

## What A Golf Handicap Means

A player’s handicap score is intended to show a player’s potential and not his or her average score. At the end of a golf round, the handicap is deducted from the number of actual strokes to determine the “actual” score. This way, players with a great difference in skill can compete against each other fairly.

Of course, the best way to determine the success of a round of golf is how much fun was had and that one great shot that only gets better over time.

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## Comments 42 comments

Brilliant I have always had difficulting fathoming how they do it thanks will twitter this !

Gosh, this helps me a lot. I love playing golf (I am bad at it) but this is a constant challenge for me. Thanks for the tips!

Very interesting. Your hub got me thinking about how we calculate handicaps in India.

Most courses here don't have a rating and index. We usually subtract the actual score from the par for the course and arrive at a handicap. Of course, it is averaged out over four or five games. Also, while doing this, a score of three or more over any hole is usually counted as only two over.

Great info!

Awesome! Thanks for this great info, bookmarked it :)

Now I think I finally get it. My hubby is a golfer and is always saying things about his handicap, but I had no idea what he was talking about. Plus I hated to ask him since he seemed to think that I already knew.

thank you so much ,i have learned from this information .

Very good hub. It has a lot of useful information.

thank you

thanks -- i did not know how this was calculated before. Good info!

Thank you, this is such a straightforward explanation of golf handicaps. I'm going to forward this link.

Hi BGPAPPA,

It's a very interesting handicap calculation. I play golf in the UK and our system is very different.

my handicap was calculated by playing three medal-condition rounds, from the longest tees.

Any score that was more than 2 over par was omitted from the round. For example if I actually scored a 7 on a par 4, I would have my score rounded down to a 6.

The average score over the three rounds, after rounding down, decided my handicap.

There are no course ratings in the UK which makes measuring individual players that much less accurate. If there are two players who both play off 10 for example, the player who plays at the harder of the two courses would be the better player, but on paper they're the same.

I think the course rating helps to narrow the assessment.

Personally I would actually like to see handicap's abolished :) then people with the lowest scores would win, rather than the person with the biggest number on a piece of paper, as often happen at my club...but hey that's another story in itself.

Thanks for the info

Cheers

Steve

Great Hub! Thanks for the info.

what is the 113 in the calculation

Actually, the equitable stroke limitation in the US is similar to the 2 over rule that Weekend Golfer noted. To make sure "blow out" holes don't distort the handicap, on any given hole there is a limit to the number of strokes that will be counted for handicap purposes. The chart below shows the limit on strokes per hole by handicap.

For more info, search on Equitable Stroke Control Chart

Course Handicap / Maximum Score

0-9 Double Bogey

10-19 7

20-29 8

30-39 9

40 or more 10

As an example, I am a 17 handicap so I can take a maximum of 7 on any hole. I always try to have my "blow outs" on par 5's because a 7 on a par 5 is a lot easier to take than a 7 on a par 3!

Remember to submit all scores both good and bad. If everyone did this it would level the playing field. Some take too much pride in their status and don't post their worst scores thinking they won't count anyway. Others tend to omit a good round or two. We refer to them as "sandbaggers."

Good hub! Very informational.

Informative hub...I like Golf.

With these formulas, wouldn't it be an index instead of a handicap? Your handicap varies depending on the course you play at. If you have calculated your index, you can use the course handicap system (usually in the proshop) in order to find out what your handicap is at that particular course.

@ terry 113 is just an average slope rating (of a golf course) by the USGA

Nice publication. Information made simple.

Thanks for the quality information on how to figure out my handicap. I am afraid to do this. good hub

I always wondered how to calculate that! Thanks for the information! Good hub.

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