How To Determine Golf Handicap

You've been playing golf for a while now, or perhaps you're just starting; in any case, this is a subject you should be well acquainted with. 

Knowing your handicap is important. A quick google search will yield about 24.800.000 "how to determine golf handicap" results. It's obviously something people want to learn about, and it's our job to teach you.

What does Handicap mean in Golf? 

Let's start off with something you might've already found out through Wikipedia, "A golf handicap is a numerical measure of a golfer's potential that is used to enable players of varying abilities to compete against one another. Better players are those with the lowest handicaps.".

Seems pretty straightforward, but let's dive in a bit deeper. What's the history behind this thing? How do you calculate your golf handicap? How does it work? What are the rules behind it?

We're here to find out.

There have been several different types of golf handicap systems, ranging from what is considered the first instance of it being used in the 17th century all the way to 2020s when a new World Handicap System was devised and phased in globally.

All in all, it's a way to determine your skill level based on your score compared to a course's par round when competing in a tournament.

What does your handicap mean? 

As we've stated before, the lower your handicap, the better you are. Let's say that you have a handicap of 5 which means that the average of your previous rounds was 5 over par (criteria changed from 5 rounds to 3 rounds in 2020). Essentially, we're judging how a player performs when compared to their average level of play as opposed to a straight head-to-head matchup. This nifty system allows players to compete and win against more skilled golfers based on how they each play that day.

Consider the following scenario: you and a friend are planning to play an 18-hole course with a par of 72. Your six-handicapper partner is predicted to shoot 78 strokes or six strokes over par. You have a twelve-stroke handicap and must shoot 84 strokes, which is 12 strokes over par. In a nutshell, your handicap is the number of strokes you should take over par throughout the course of an 18-hole round. Let's say you shoot an 82, and your friend shoots an 80 in this situation. Although your friend shot the lower round, you are the winner since you factored in handicaps (you are -2, and your friend is +2).

Not as complicated as you thought it was, right?

How can you calculate your handicap?

First of all, if you've never played golf, you don't have a handicap. When you're ready to determine your handicap, you need to start by tracking your 9- and 18-hole scores. Record them in a scorecard and sign it; your golf partner should sign it as well. The signatures are there in order to minimize corruption and ensure that your scores are real and valid.

You're going to need three 18- hole scores in order to obtain a handicap index. This can be made from a combination of 9- hole and 18- hole rounds. The handicap index is revised at the beginning and middle of every month, the 1st and the 15th.

The revision to your handicap is done daily as long as you update your third 18- hole scores before midnight.

We're living in 2021, which means that there are a bunch of apps that can calculate everything for you now, even your golf handicap.

What about doing it myself?

But, if you're interested in doing it yourself, your golf handicap is based on several factors. Some of these factors include the slope rating, course handicap, and adjusted gross scores. Other factors to consider are the game's handicap index, the handicap differential linked with it, and the course rating.

To get adjusted gross scores, use the USGA's equitable stroke control. Use the ESC downwards while adjusting the individual 18-hole scores to create a golf handicap. According to ESC, the maximum number of strokes you can enter in a specific hole is limited. The maximum value can be found in the table below.

The next step is calculating the differential in handicap for each score. 

Handicap differential = (Adjusted Gross Score-rating of the course) X 113 / Course slope ratings.

The course rating is just a new golfer's score on a standard course under standard playing conditions. Slope rating is the rating of 113 for a course based on the standard difficulty.

Next, you need to select your best or lowest handicap differential. If you've entered more than 20 scores, the top 10 differentials of your 20 most current scores will be used.

Now, let’s calculate the average of the smallest value from the differentials.

Calculate the average of the lowest three handicap differentials if you have ten available. Calculate the average of the lowest 6 HDs for a total of 15 HDs. Once you've accumulated at least 20 points, always use the top ten from the most recent 20.

Now we have to determine the average from net handicap differentials by multiplying the average differential by 0.96.

Truncating, deleting the number to the value of right of tenths

Any figures in the scores should not be rounded off. If a golf match is played on an 18-hole course, the default maximum number from any handicap index is 40.4 for women and 36.4 for men, according to the USGA. It's 18.2 for men and 20.2 for women on the 9-hole course. If the handicap differential average is 13.196 after being multiplied by 0.96, the shortened value is 13.1.

Calculate the course handicap

The handicap of a course is the number of strokes a player receives on a particular course.

Course handicap = Handicap Index X Slope Rating/113 + (Course Rating-Par)

Example: This course handicap calculation assumes a 12.7 and a course slope of 115

Course Handicap = 12.7 x 115 / 113 = 12.92 = 13

Let's assume that you actually decided to go through all of that instead of just downloading the app. You're the new and proud owner of your very own golf handicap! Congratulations!

Final Thoughts

We've learned how to determine golf handicap, what it means, how it's calculated, and how it helps people play together even if they're not on the same level. Determining your handicap is obviously important, but what about improving it?

You've heard these things a million times before, but you have to work on improving your swing, making sure your equipment is perfect, and on your mindset.

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