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An Easy Guide to the Golf Handicap System

An Easy Guide to the Golf Handicap System

How the World Handicap System Works

  • Calculating Handicap Index

The very first step is calculating a golfer’s “Handicap Index” which represents their potential ability and helps determine their course handicap for a specific golf course. A golfer is required to submit the scores from at least 20 rounds of golf played on 18-hole courses. The top 8 scores from the 20 rounds are then added together and averaged and then the result is subtracted from par to calculate the Handicap Index.

For instance, if your eight top scores added up to 720, the average would be 90. Assuming you played on par-72 courses, your handicap index would be 18 strokes over par.

  • Calculating Course Handicap

Golfers use the Course Handicap to adjust their scores based on a course’s difficulty level. To calculate the Course Handicap, you need your Handicap Index and the slope rating of the course (a measure of the course’s difficulty for bogey golfers relative to scratch golfers).

The basic formula to calculate Course Handicap is to multiply your handicap index by the course’s slope rating divided by 113 (average slope rating for all courses). You should then add the result to the course rating (the rating assigned to each course for a scratch golfer) and from here subtract par to get your handicap.

To denote it in simpler terms: Your Handicap = [Your Handicap Index * (Slope rating/113)] + (Course rating – par)

Parting Shot

It’s important to note that handicap calculations may change based on different golf formats and tee boxes, or the country you are playing in. Golfers are tasked with posting their scores from each round and one must be keen to maintain accurate records to keep their handicap up-to-date and representative of their current ability. Handicaps are usually updated once every two weeks, and as you put in more work to improve your swing, you will be impressed to see your handicap go lower.