Golf Handicap: What does it mean?

play better golf by understanding the handicap

The term “handicap” in golf may sound strange if you are not familiarized with the sport, especially if you are a novice when it comes to golf. However, to experienced golfers, it is quite straight forward. But, do not fret because understanding its meaning, usage, and benefits in the sport is simple.

Handicap in golf is the numerical measure or mark of a golfer’s abilities which is used when players of different experience compete against each other in a course being played, making changes to the golfers scoring ability to either scratch or zero-handicap game. You can simply call it a head-start given to a golfer of lower experience.

Now, this poses a question, who are scratch golfers? Players who are given zero-handicap in a tournament are dubbed this term. This is mostly particular to amateurs taking golf courses. What this means is that the player can play to a course handicap of zero on all golf courses.

For example, a 15-handicapper will have to offer a 20-handicapper five strokes before the round even begins During stroke play, the sportsman who obtains the lowest net score (total strokes minus handicap) wins the round.

According to the U.S. Golf Association, the maximum handicap which a male golfer can acquire is 36, while female golfers can attain up to 40. In the onset of January 2020, a brand-new handicap system was introduced. 

The main drive behind this was to allow more golfers to obtain handicaps. The new system brought more opportunities into the game, increasing the maximum handicap for both male and female players to 54. This is quite an increase from the figures above. However, a handicap is mostly based on a player’s recent game and so can change as the player participate in more round.

Handicap Usage

In the game of golf, especially as a beginner who has little experience in the sport against a player of more potential, golf handicap becomes a necessary tool to get a fair game. It is most used in charity games, corporate outing or perhaps an amateur tournament which features golfers with different sets of experience; handicap becomes a priority to produce at least a friendly round. At the end of the round, the handicap given to either player is deducted to get the “final score”.

Benefits of a golf handicap

Golf handicaps provide an opportunity for players of all level to compete with one another. Without a handicap system in play, golfers who are more athletic, younger and talented than their counterpart will consistently win all competitions.With this in mind, a golf handicap system becomes essential to allow every golfer to fairly compete in tournaments.

Also Read: 2020 Golf Stand Bag to Take on the Course

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