There are so many reasons to love the game of golf. You can compete from age 5 to age 95. You get to “unplug” from your normal life, enjoy fresh air, and get some exercise. You get to spend time with family and friends. Our favorite reason is that any two players, regardless of skill level, can have a fair match.
That’s right, as long as you and your playing partners have a good golf handicap, you can play a match that gives everyone an equal chance of winning. Using golf handicaps, you could challenge Phil Mickelson or Rory. How many other sports have this type of process to level the playing field?
What Is A Golf Handicap?
The WHS (World Handicap System) was put in place to give golfers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete on an even playing field. The USGA (United States Golf Association) has detailed information available on the WHS.
Let’s start with the basics. You establish a golf handicap by “posting” or recording your scores. You can post 9-hole or 18-hole scores. Once you have scores posted, your golf handicap will be a number. The lower the number, the better the golfer. For example, if you typically shoot around 90 on par 72 golf courses, your golf handicap would be around 18.
How does this level the playing field? It defines how many strokes a better player needs to give the other player. For example, if you are an 18 golf handicap and your buddy is a 9, he needs to give you 9 strokes (1 stroke on the 9 hardest holes) to make the match fair.
So, What Is A Good Golf Handicap?
Defining a “good” golf handicap can be tricky. If you’re a 30-handicap, you probably feel that a 10-handicap is a good golf handicap. It’s all about perspective. The average golf handicap for a male golfer is 16 and for a female golfer, it’s 28. That gives you an idea if you’re better or worse than average.
For the sake of this question, let’s say a 10-handicap is a good golf handicap. That means that the player is shooting between 80-84 on par 72 courses. This is an experienced player that has invested in their game for at least a few years. Do you have a good golf handicap?
What Is A Scratch Golfer?
When talking about golf, you’ll often hear players talk about scratch golfers, and you may be confused by this term. It simply means a player with a zero golf handicap. In other words, they typically shoot very close to even par.
It is possible to be better than a zero golf handicap. In this case, your golf handicap is described as a “plus.” If you were one better than scratch, you would have a “+1 golf handicap.” To give you some perspective, the top players on the PGA tour have golf handicaps in the +8 range. We can all agree that’s a good golf handicap! We recommend setting up a handicap goal for yourself that’ll help level up your game.
How To Calculate A Handicap
The golf handicap calculation gets complicated quickly. Most golfers will use a service or phone app to manage their handicap. The most popular is the GHIN phone app. Using this type of service, you simply enter the course, the tees you played, and your score. The application calculates and maintains your golf handicap.
If you want a general idea of your golf handicap, without signing up for a service, here’s an example of how you could calculate it.
- Golfer A has played 20 rounds on a par 72 golf course.
- Golfer A shot the following scores: 88, 87, 92, 95, 84, 86, 98, 91, 87, 90, 93, 85, 87, 85, 88, 97, 95, 94, 89, 87 (we have bolded the lowest 8)
- Let’s adjust these “best 8” scores to # of strokes over par: 88 (16), 87 (15), 84 (12), 86 (14), 85 (13), 87 (15), 85 (13), 87 (15)
- Now we average these numbers ((16+15+12+14+13+15+13+15)/8) = 14.1
- Using this simple calculation, Golfer A has a 14.1 handicap index.
While this approximates Golfer A’s golf handicap index, it doesn’t include all of the nuances necessary to truly determine your golf handicap. An official golf handicap uses additional details to factor in the difficulty of the courses you play, the tees you play, etc.
What Is A Good Golf Handicap: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the golf handicap of an average golfer?
Based on the primary services that maintain golf handicaps, the average male golf handicap is a 16 and the average female golfer is a 28 golf handicap.
For perspective, the top players on the PGA tour have golf handicaps in the +6 to +8 range!
What’s my golf handicap if I shoot 100?
If we make the assumption that you typically play a par 72 course, a player that shoots 100 every time they play would have a golf handicap of approximately 28.
What percentage of golfers can break 100?
Such a simple question, but there are a couple of different answers. If you focus on golfers that keep a golf handicap, the answer is slightly above 50% break 100, or have a golf handicap of 27 or lower.
Of course, many recreational players love to golf but don’t maintain a golf handicap. If you consider all players, we estimate that less than 25% regularly break 100.
Establish Your Golf Handicap Today
What are you waiting for? Establishing a golf handicap is inexpensive (typically less than $30 per year, depending on the service you select). Not only is a golf handicap a great way to play against other players, it’s also the perfect metric to determine if your game is improving.
At the beginning of each golf season, give yourself a goal to reduce your golf handicap by a stroke or two. Track key metrics such as the number of putts, fairways hit, and greens in regulation. You’ll be able to identify how to improve and before you know it, you’ll have a good golf handicap.