Have you just started playing golf and want to know what golfers mean when they talk about their handicap? If you want to compete with others, it’s essential to know what your handicap score is. I’ll do my best to explain everything you need to know about your own handicap and how to calculate it.
The handicap will determine your final standing when you are playing with others. Even if your strokes are better than your competing players, you may be given a lower score due to your handicap difference. It is a way of comparing or equating the playing styles of the golfers.
It may sound very confusing in the beginning, but it is indeed straightforward to understand. I will help you understand what handicaps are and which category of handicap do you belong to.
What Does Handicap Mean in Golf
Now that you know the importance of understanding your handicap, you may be wondering what it is all about. Let me explain it in detail.
Let’s use a simple example that anyone can understand. If you’re playing on a par 72 course and you are able to hit a total of 82 strokes, you would have a 10 handicap. Playing with a handicap gives an idea of a gross score from which the net score can be calculated.
Essentially, golf handicap means the gross total of how many strokes you are able to hit over or under par on a course.
The net score is calculated by subtracting the handicap. In this case, it would be around 72. Hence it is essential for all the players to know their handicap before playing significant tournaments.
How to Calculate / Figure out your Golf Handicap
To play against other golfers, you need to know your handicap. So how do you calculate your handicap? Players generally play around 10-20 rounds on a single course. This can help them identify their handicap quickly.
A handicap index could also be used to calculate the handicap of the golfer. This is generally used while playing tournaments away from your regular course. There are two crucial things which are considered while calculating the handicap index.
- Course Rating
This represents the difficulty of a course with respect to a golfer with a 0 handicap. Golfers who have a 0 handicap are known as “scratch players”.
- Course Slope
This value represents the difficulty of the course for a player with a handicap of 18. Such players are known as “bogey players”.
You will need to subtract the course rating from your score. This will be the first part of the calculation. The course ratings are available online.
You can enter your golf course and the other relevant details to get the course ratings. The second part of the calculation requires you to divide the number 113 by the average course slope. Information regarding course slopes is also available online. 113 is generally considered as the average slope difficulty.
The value obtained in the first part is multiplied by the value obtained in the second part. This final value is your handicap.
Average Handicap in Golf
The USGA system has come up with a value for the average handicap. But it has been generally found to be false. Most of the people either don’t follow the system or shoot much higher than the average handicap.
The average handicap in the USGA system is found to be a score of 90. 90 are what bogey players score. A bogey player is one who scores one above the par. This will produce an average score of 90.
Most of the people in the US can shoot more than 100. There have been no other attempts made to find the national average score of the golfers. It is estimated that it would be higher than 100.
Around 14.5 is considered the average handicap index value for men while this value changes to 26.5 for women.
For the past two decades, it has been noted that the handicap value has been going down. It has decreased by 2 points for men while it has reduced by around 3 points for women. This seems to be indicative of good progress amidst the players.
For males, the handicap values are calculated on an average of 35-40 rounds. Female golfers on the other hand, need to play only 20-25 rounds to identify their handicap values.
You may want to check out my detailed guide I wrote about average golf scores
Golf Handicap If You Shoot 100
Golf handicaps are calculated by taking into the account the last 10 rounds. In some cases, people consider the first 10 rounds. The scores are calculated based on the slope and course rating mentioned in the above paragraphs.
If you score 100 points playing a 18 hole course and the par is approximately 72, your average score works out to be 28. In this example, your handicap value would be 28. Every time you play rounds, your handicap values can be recalibrated.
Golf Handicap If You Shoot 95
A single round can never be used to calculate your handicap. You need to play around 20 shots to know your handicap level. In general, handicaps are bad during the initial stages and become better after a few games or a few years of playing.
Let’s say you’re able to shoot a score of 95 for 10 rounds, your handicap figures might look like this. Let us assume the course slope to be 131 and the rating to be 72; then your differential would be 20. This would be your handicap value.
Golf Handicap If You Shoot 90
In general, handicaps are calculated periodically. They are taken as the last 20 rounds played or the final 10 rounds played. Over time, the handicaps will decrease as the player improves. In simple terms, a person playing on a par 72 golf course and shooting 90 is said to have a handicap of 18.
These days, it is straightforward to calculate the handicap values. There are programs installed in every club, which can help compute your average scores and your handicap. These programs can also come up with graphs to show your improvement over time.
Golf Handicap If You Shoot 85
It is mandatory to have another person follow the golfer and sign off the shots. This has to be countersigned by the golfer himself. This ensures that the values entered in the scorecard are authentic and genuine.
If you’re playing on a 72 par course and the course slope is around 131, then using the formula, the calculations would go like this: (85-72.2)*(113/131) = 11. This approximately gives your handicap differential figure.
This differential is calculated for each of the rounds played. You will need to use the average differential of a few rounds and multiply it by a factor of 0.96 to arrive at your exact differential value.
Golf Handicap If You Shoot 80
If you are someone who shoots 80 on a course of 69, then your handicap differential would look like this. Let us assume that the slope of the course is 113; then your differential would be around 11.
Of course, based on your scores in different rounds, your differential could change which of course can change the handicap values. Essentially your handicap could range between 10 or 11 if you shoot under similar conditions.
Golf Handicap If You Shoot 75
The handicap values as mentioned earlier depend on two important factors namely, the course rating and course slope. It is not possible to make a guess of your handicap value without knowing these figures. These figures for your local golf clubs will be available online for reference.
Let us try and calculate an approximate value for a person who shoots 75. Let us assume the slope is 125 and the course rating is around 72. If you consistently shoot between 75 and 80, there is a high chance that your handicap could range between 2 and 6.
You will need to eliminate any outlier rounds to get an accurate score. There are a lot of online calculators available which can help you in calculating your handicap differential. You will need to mention your course and area to get the values of course rating and slope.
Golf is one of those few games which look easy but takes a lot of practice to master. The professional players make it seem so easy to hit a ball effectively. However, consistent results do require a great deal of skill and precision to shoot into the holes.
Handicap values have been invented to make sure that players of different calibre can easily compete against each other.
The handicap value system is a way of equating the scores of different players. This was invented around 1911 and has been in use till date.
Modern technology has brought in computer programs which can calculate the handicap differentials for the golfers.
If you are just starting out, you may find your handicap values to be on the higher side. As you practice and fine-tune your game, your handicap will definitely improve.
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