Table of Contents
*This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
The handicap is an index created by the USGA (United States Golf Association) and measures the potential ability of a golfer compared to that of an expert golfer. The handicap helps make matches fairer and more fun by eliminating differences in the number of shots each player makes depending on their ability. So that golfers of different levels can compete with each other.
For many golfers, a handicap provides the measurement with which they can measure their level of play against other golfers, which raises the question – what is a good golf handicap?
The official handicap ranges from 0 (excellent player) to 54 (beginner player); the lower the handicap, the better the level of the player. According to US PGA, a player with a 15 handicap is considered average. So, a handicap index of 10 or less is considered good in golf as it allows a golfer to shoot somewhere around 82. Although a good handicap is not a fixed number and can be different for different players, you’re pretty much there if your handicap is in single digits.
Still confused? Here’s our explanation of how the handicap system works and what a good handicap is!
What is a Good Handicap in Golf?
The official handicap ranges from 0 (a scratch player) to 54 (an amateur player). In golf, the handicap is your ranking, which allows you to compare yourself to other golfers. It is important to understand how a handicap is calculated, to understand what a good golf handicap is.
If you’re into golf, you must know that each field has a score –par– on which the handicap is established. If both coincide, it is said that “the handicap is under par.” Once the field par is known, you can know the player’s handicap.
The calculation of the handicap is quite simple. It is obtained from the subtraction between the number of shots you use to travel the course and the par of the course.
For example, if a player covers a course of par 72 in 82 strokes, their handicap will be 10.
Par of the Course + Golf Handicap = Stroke to Meet Game Level
72 + 10 = 82
Completing a course of par 72 in the number of strokes between 80 to 85 is considered better than average but certainly not good enough to be considered a scratch player. A handicap of 10 or less is considered good, with which you will be able to play well at all types of courses, not just your home course. Players with a handicap index of less than ten will occasionally shoot between 70 and 80 and likely play in a few tournaments from time to time.
It is also possible to have a handicap below 0, called a “Plus” handicap. The player with this handicap must add their handicap to the result at the end of the game.
It is important to mention that not all fields are the same. Some are easier, and others are really difficult. So the courses have their rating, which refers to the level of difficulty, and the player’s actual handicap is adjusted according to that difficulty level. It means that a player’s actual handicap for an easier course will not be the same on a difficult course.
Let’s discuss how you can relate your golf handicap with the course’s level of difficulty!
How to Relate the Golf Handicap with the Assessment of the Course?
We have seen that each player has their handicap, called the player’s real handicap and that each course is valued according to its difficulty. Now we have to adjust the player’s actual handicap with the difficulty level of the course.
Although it seems very complicated, it is very simple because we have to go to the clubhouse bulletin board and look for the handicap adjustment table. You will get your game handicap in that adjustment table on that course. However, you can also calculate it. The course or game handicap is calculated according to the course’s difficulty level, and you need the following information:
- The Par of the Course on which you play your competition
- The SSS of the course (Scratch Score Standard): It assesses the difficulty of a course for a player with a 0 handicap. If the SSS is lower than the par, the course will be considered easy and vice versa.
- The Slope of the Course: This measures the difficulty of the course, the average being 113, a higher slope means that the course will be more difficult than the average, a lower slope means that the course will be less difficult than the average).
- Your initial Handicap (Index): This is the “portable” and “universal” value for comparison between players, regardless of the difficulty of the terrain (the one discussed above.)
Thanks to these 4 data, you will calculate your course or game handicap.
The course handicap is the number of strokes to be deducted from the player’s result to determine his net result in the game. It is expressed in whole numbers, rounding the result if necessary and is calculated by applying the following formulas to the player’s handicap (exact handicap):
For 18 holes: Exact Handicap x (slope value / 113) + (course value – course par)
For 9 holes: Exact Handicap x (Slope Value / 226) + (Course Value – Course Par)
The RFEG grants the Field Value and the Slope.
For example, let’s say you are an 18.5 handicap player, and the course has a slope of 121. Using the above formula for 18 holes:
Course handicap = (18.5 x 121) / 113
Course handicap for the player = 19.81 = 20 strokes
Since rounding up, you would have a 20 stroke field handicap for this round. Suppose you finish the round with 100 hits. Thanks to your 20 handicap, you would have a total net score of:
Score = Total Strokes – Player Field Handicap
Score = 100 – 20 = 80 hits
Each Golf Association applies a Course Assessment system (Rating) that considers the factors that influence the difficulty of said courses. Not only is it important to have a handicap, but it is also mandatory as it acts as a golf license and is needed to go out and play any course in competitions. Official handicaps vary from country to country, so as the rules for their calculation.
When a player plays on a course, they receive a handicap adjusted to the difficulty of that course and may receive extra shots if it is a difficult course or discount them if it is an easy one. So, a handicap considered average on an easy course will be good on a difficult one. It is not a fixed number and is adjusted over time for each player as their game changes. Also, recording your results will help you track trends in your score and see if you’re improving your game.
We hope the above information will help you understand what a good golf handicap is. But don’t worry too much about the handicap. Many players are embarrassed or stressed to admit that they do not have a very good handicap. We advise you to focus on improving your game and making good holes, and the handicap will improve naturally. Golf is a mind sport, and the fewer distractions you have, the better.