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How To Calculate A Golf Handicap

Updated on March 14, 2014
The Golf Handicap
The Golf Handicap
A Formula Is Used To Determine The Potential And Actual Ability Of Players Of Different Skill Levels
A Formula Is Used To Determine The Potential And Actual Ability Of Players Of Different Skill Levels

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.

There Are Several Computer Programs That Help Determine Golf Handicap.  There Is Even An IPhone Download.
There Are Several Computer Programs That Help Determine Golf Handicap. There Is Even An IPhone Download.

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.

Handicaps Are Calculated After Five And Twenty Rounds Of Golf.  But Only A PGA Sponsor Can Verify A Golf Handicap
Handicaps Are Calculated After Five And Twenty Rounds Of Golf. But Only A PGA Sponsor Can Verify A Golf Handicap
Of Course There Are More Important Things That Calculating The Golf Handicap
Of Course There Are More Important Things That Calculating 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.

The Main Thing To Remember Is Have Fun
The Main Thing To Remember Is Have Fun

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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    • barryrutherford profile image

      Barry Rutherford 7 years ago from Queensland Australia

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

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Me too. Thanks for the comment.

    • Ladybird33 profile image

      Ladybird33 7 years ago from Georgia USA

      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!

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Don't worry ladybird, I am bad as well. But the handicap helps.

      Thanks for reading

    • Jaspal profile image

      Jaspal 7 years ago from New Delhi, India

      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.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks for the comment.

    • javanx3d profile image

      javanx3d 7 years ago from Memphis, TN

      Great info!

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks for the comment

    • monicapeterson001 profile image

      monicapeterson001 7 years ago

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

    • Ashley Joy profile image

      Ashley Joy 7 years ago

      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.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Go out and join him on the course, it is fun to get out and get some frustration out.

      Monica and Ashley, thanks for the comments.

    • cherishyou profile image

      cherishyou 7 years ago

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

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      I am happy to hear that. Thanks for reading

    • Robthom43921717 profile image

      Robthom43921717 7 years ago

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

      thank you

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks for reading

    • ruainc profile image

      ruainc 7 years ago

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

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks for reading

    • profile image

      Sarah 7 years ago

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

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      thanks for reading

    • Weekend Golfers profile image

      Weekend Golfers 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      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

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      It is intereting, there appears to be many different ways to calcluate it. The one here is a basic calculation.

      Thanks for the comment.

    • Pure Chiropractic profile image

      Pure Chiropractic 6 years ago from Nanaimo

      Great Hub! Thanks for the info.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks for reading

    • profile image

      terry 6 years ago

      what is the 113 in the calculation

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Its the multiplier

    • profile image

      ncstateofmind 6 years ago

      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!

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Ok, Thanks for the comment.

    • profile image

      Husky1970 6 years ago

      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."

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Interesting,

      Thanks for reading

    • profile image

      RyanKekoufski09 6 years ago

      Good hub! Very informational.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thank you for stopping by

    • breathing profile image

      Sajib 5 years ago from Bangladesh

      Informative hub...I like Golf.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks for reading breathing

    • profile image

      Peter An 5 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Peter An 5 years ago

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

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Peter, thank you for the analysis and the great discussion

    • apinionated profile image

      apinionated 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Nice publication. Information made simple.

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks for stopping by

    • TheMMAZone profile image

      TheMMAZone 4 years ago from Kansas

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

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 4 years ago from Sacramento, California

      I am afraid as well Themmazone. THanks for reading.

    • Myrtle Beach Golf profile image

      Myrtle Beach Golf 4 years ago from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

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

    • bgpappa profile image
      Author

      bgpappa 4 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thanks for reading

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