If you are new to golf or starting to take your rounds more seriously, understanding your golf handicap is a must. Golf handicaps are a number that represents a golfer’s skill based on his previous game of golf scores.
It is used to compare his performance with that of other golf players. For men, your golf handicap is between zero and twenty-eight, and for women, between zero and thirty-six.
Knowing your handicap is essential when a player wants to participate in tournament-style formats. Your handicap is the great equalizer.
Many tournaments format their game so that a player’s handicap is used to score around. This increases competition and allows players who may not be the strongest golfers a chance to taste victory. But this brings us to some important questions. What’s your downside, and more importantly, how do you calculate it?
New changes to handicap calculation were introduced in 2020, so we’ll go over what a handicap is, how to calculate golf handicap, and what rules changed for 2020.
Table of Contents
What is a Golf Handicap?
A golf handicap measures a player’s strength based on scores and courses played previously. This allows players of different abilities to compete against each other.
Disadvantages are common in amateur play to provide an even playing field for everyone involved. While handicaps can be technically used in professional play, they are generally omitted in favor of a fair tournament.
Your golf handicap is not static. As you accumulate more rounds and experience in a variety of fields, your handicap changes accordingly.
It is often used as a representation of your skill level and can be used as a clubhouse conversation starter.
History of Golf Handicap
The handicap was introduced more than 100 years ago so that players of different skill levels could play together competitively.
It was known as a hands-on cap in previous years, which involved three parties: the referee and two players. Later, they changed the name to Handicap in 1850.
Think of it as a player’s point spread. For example, when you give your friends “points” on a knight bet, the team can’t just win to collect – they have to win by a certain amount.
The handicap in golf works the same way: you can beat your friend by ten strokes, but if your handicap is two and theirs is 15, they win.
Your handicap is used to measure your skill level based on your score compared to the course’s even round. Handicaps are used in large and small tournaments, from a fight with friends to club championships.
How to Get a Handicap in Golf
As you read on, you may become a bit overwhelmed with the numbers. But getting a golf handicap is not difficult.
You can enroll in one in your home course or enroll online at USGA.com. If you are a member of a golf club, they usually include a small fee in the annual membership. If you sign up on your own, it costs roughly $ 30- $ 40 per year.
Once your application is accepted, you will receive a GHIN number. Your GHIN number will allow you and others to post scores on your behalf online.
Simple enough, right?
The trickiest part is how to calculate a handicap. Fortunately, the computer does most of the heavy lifting for you.
What Your Handicap Means
Essentially, the lower your golf handicap, the more skilled you will be. A player with a handicap of 5 means that this player’s previous round average was five above par.
Handicaps are often used to judge how a player performed than his average level of play compared to a head-to-head match. Handicaps allow players to compete and win against more talented golfers based on how they played that day.
For example, let’s say you and a friend will play an 18-hole course with a par 72. Your friend, with a golf handicap of six, is expected to play 78 strokes or six over par. While you and your handicap of twelve are expected to reach 84 strokes, 12 more above par. Your handicap, in short, is the number of over-par strokes you must make in the course of the 18-hole round. In this scenario, let’s say you shoot an 82 and your friend shoots an 80.
Technically, his friend shot the bottom round, but because he added handicaps, he is the winner!
How to Calculate Golf Handicap
If you have never played golf, your golf handicap does not exist. When you’re ready to create your golf handicap, start by tracking your 9 and 18 hole scores.
Scores must be recorded on a scorecard and must be signed by two people: you and the partner accompanying you to the game of golf. Signatures are necessary to minimize corruption and make your scores real and valid.
Number of Scores Needed to Obtain Handicap Index
Beginning in January 2020, you must submit three 18-hole scores to obtain a handicap index. This can be done with a combination of 9 and 18 hole rounds; the handicap index will be reviewed at the beginning and middle of each month (1st and 15th).
This change requires you to submit only three 18-hole scores. Your handicap review will take place daily as long as you update your third 18-hole score before midnight.
Course Handicap Calculation Formula
There are several apps or programs that you can sign up for that will calculate your handicap for you, but if you like to do things the old-fashioned way, here is a complete breakdown to calculate your course handicap.
The handicap calculation is based on several elements. Some of these items include grades for slope, course handicap, and adjusted raw scores.
Other factors that can be considered include the game’s handicap index, its associated handicap differential, and the course’s grade.
Step 1 – You need to change the gross scores into the adjusted total score
For adjusted gross scores, use the USGA Equitable Stroke Control. Use the ESC down while changing individual 18 hole scores to create a golf handicap.
Under ESC, you are restricted to the maximum number of strokes that you can enter a given hole. The maximum can be obtained from the following table:
|Course Handicap||Maximum Score|
|Nine or less||Double bogey|
|40 and above||10|
Step 2: Calculate the differential in a handicap for each score
It would be better if you used this formula to calculate the handicap spread.
Handicap Differential = (Adjusted Gross Course Score Grade) X 113 / Course Slope Ratings.
The course rating is simply the score of a new golfer on a normal course under normal playing conditions. The grade for the slope is the grade of 113 for a course based on the standard difficulty.
Step 3: Select the lowest handicap differential
Select your best or lowest handicap differential. If you have entered more than 20 scores, the top 10 spreads from your 20 most current scores will be used for the calculation.
Step 4: Calculate the average of the smallest value of the spreads
If you have ten handicap spreads available, calculate the average of the lowest 3 HDs. For 15 HD, calculate the standard for the lowest 6. Once you have at least 20 scores, always use the top 10 of the most recent 20 scores.
Step 5: Multiply the average of the handicap differences by 96%
The fifth step is to determine the average of the net handicap spreads by multiplying the average spread by 0.96.
Step 6: Truncate, delete the number to the right of tenths
Do not round any figures in the scores. The USGA states that the default maximum number of any handicap index in a golf game should be 40.4 for women and 36.4 for men if played on an 18-hole course.
On the 9-hole course, it should be 18.2 for men and 20.2 for women. For example, if the average handicap spread is 13.196 after multiplying by 0.96, the truncated value will be 13.1.
Step 7: Calculate the course handicap
A field handicap is the number of strokes a player takes on a particular field.
Course Handicap = Handicap Index X Grade Grade / 113 + (Course Grade-Par)
For example, this course handicap calculation assumes 12.7 and a course slope of 115
Course handicap = 12.7 x 115/113 = 12.92 = 13
Handicaps in Tournaments and Matches
I want to keep this simple and not overcomplicate it. Here’s a quick example when playing with your weekend boy group.
Let’s say you have a disability of 10 and your friend has a disability of 15. That means you have to hit 5 shots during the round. You can do this in different ways.
If you are playing stroke play, you can add five to your total number of strokes. Very simple, you have to beat your competitor by five or more hits.
But if you are playing match play, it is a little different. If your friend takes five shots, that means he will hit the top five handicap holes. So if they both made pars on the first five holes, they would actually lose the hole as he netted a three.
If you are playing in a match, be sure to clarify the strokes or match play and the number of strokes before starting. This will help avoid any confusion and possible discomfort as the round progresses.
Now that you understand the disadvantages of golf and know how to calculate your own, get out there and start hitting the little white ball. Having a golf handicap has a ton of benefits when playing matches and also helps you monitor your scores over time.
Remember, golf is like life and we all go through seasons. So if you see your game getting worse, know that you can improve by working on the right things. If you are doing well and see your handicap decrease, use it as motivation to keep doing what you are doing.
Hopefully, this post was helpful to you and you are sure about all things disability. Now, start monitoring your progress, work on your weaknesses and start shooting your lowest scores yet!