What is Golf Handicap?

Golf Handicap is very important for players who are competing with each other. Handicaps give players of different abilities a chance to play competitively against each other, no matter their skill level.

So, What is Golf Handicap? A handicap is a numerical measure of a golfer’s potential ability on the course. It helps to level the playing field and allows players of different skill levels to compete against one another.

Following this article, you can learn more about calculating your golf handicap and its benefits.


What is the History of Golf Handicaps?

What is the History of Golf Handicaps

Golf Handicap originated in 18th-century Scotland. The first known method of handicapping was developed by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (R&A). It was originally used to even the playing field for members with different abilities to play against each other on a level playing field. The R&A method went on to become the official handicapping system of golf courses around the world. 

Today, there are many different methods for computing a golfer’s handicap, but all follow the same basic principles set out by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. 

Why Should You Get a Handicap In Golf?

Getting a handicap in golf is essential for competitive players due to some reasons. To begin with, players of different abilities can compete fair with the same advantage by using a handicap. Additionally, it allows players to measure their performance and improve over time.

Moreover, a handicap can help you find new opponents of the same skill level and better prepare you for tournaments and other golfing events. Lastly, it helps you set a goal and work on your weaknesses to become a better player. By calculating your golf handicap, you can accurately assess your skill level and use it to challenge yourself and improve your game.

How Does the Handicap System Work?

Various Handicap systems can be used to determine a golfer’s handicap. The newest and most popular system was developed in 2020 – the World Handicap System (WHS), recognized by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (R&A). 

To calculate a handicap index, The WHS uses a mathematical formula to calculate handicap by calculating the average of your best 8 out of your last 20 rounds and then adjusting the score based on course difficulty rating and other factors.

How to Calculate Your Golf Handicap?

Calculating your golf handicap can be done using the World Handicap System’s formula. The 2020 formula is Handicap Index X  (Slope rating/113) + (Course Rating-Par).

In that:

Handicap Index is the average of your best 8 scores out of your last 20 rounds.

Slope rating is a number that shows the difficulty of the course.

Course Rating is a numerical measure of how difficult it is to play a golf course.

Par is the expected score for an average player on any hole or round.

For example, if your Handicap Index is 15.2, the Slope rating of the course is 134, and the Course Rating is 71.3 with a Par of 72, then your handicap for that round would be calculated as: 15.2 x (134/113) + (71.3 – 72) = 6

How to Improve Your Handicap?

Improving your handicap can be done by consistently practicing and playing. The WHS system considers the last 20 rounds, so it’s important to play as many games as possible and get familiar with different courses. 

In order to improve your score, focus on specific areas that need improvement, such as putting, driving accuracy, or chipping. Practice these shots and use the handicap system to track your progress. 

Additionally, join a local golf club or find an online community of like-minded players to get advice on how to improve your game. 

FAQs About Golf Handicap

What Is a Good or Bad Handicap Number?

A good handicap number depends on the skill level of the player. The better  you become, the lower your handicap should be. Generally, a handicap of 10 or below is considered excellent, while anything above 18 is considered poor.

What Does +7 Handicap Mean?

A +7 handicap means you are seven strokes better than the average golf player. That means you must subtract 7 strokes from your score in order to get an accurate assessment of your performance. 

What Is a Good Handicap For a Beginner?

The average handicap for a beginner is probably above 30, so having a handicap of 18 or lower would be considered good for a beginner golfer.

What Are the Handicaps for Average Players?

The average handicap for a recreational golfer is around 18-20. The average for a novice golfer is around 28-30, and the average for an experienced tour player is around 4.  

What Does 0 Handicap Mean?

A 0 handicap indicates that you are playing at par or better, meaning your score equals the expected score of an average golfer playing on that course. It also means that you are an expert golfer and can compete with other experienced players in tournaments and other golf-related events.

Do You Round a Golf Handicap Up or Down?

Your handicap should be rounded down to the nearest whole number. For example, if your Handicap Index is 15.4, it should be rounded down to 15.


A golf handicap system is a great tool for tracking your progress and comparing yourself against other players. Through consistent practice and playing, you can improve your score and reach the goals you have set out for yourself.

Learn more about the World Handicap System’s formula to calculate your handicap index, as well as tips on how to improve your score and what an average handicap is for different skill levels.  With these tools, you can monitor your performance, set goals, and strive for improvement each time you hit the course.

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