How to Determine Golf Handicap

For an avid golfer, being able to test your skills on a well-kempt golf course and competing with other golfers represents an essential part of honing your skills and becoming better at this curious sport

That said, pursuing golf is often easier said than done, like golf courses, clubs, and individuals practicing the sport tend to be few and far between, so unless you happen to live next to a golf club, you may have a difficult time finding people to practice with you.

Not all is bleak, of course, as those who seek will certainly find what they’re looking for in the end, but before you can do that, you first need to determine your golf handicap.

In case you’ve never heard of a golf handicap, it represents a series of numbers denoting how good you are at the game so that you can enter various tournaments, find practicing partners and advance in your local club.

The main idea behind a golf handicap is that the lower it is, the better the player you are. On the other hand, if your golf handicap is high, then that means it takes you longer to complete all holes in a game – which means you may not be that good at it.

Now, as far as determining a golf handicap is concerned, this is done in a wide variety of ways across the world, so the way you determine yours will largely depend on where you are from. That said, there is an effort in progress right now to standardize golf handicaps and come up with a single system for the entire world, which would certainly save people a lot of effort when figuring out what their golf handicap might be and how to use it across the world in competitions.

In this article, we’re going to talk about golf handicaps and how you can determine yours with the help of the commonly accepted system for the US. As you will see, the process itself may appear to be a tad tricky, but if you follow the steps correctly, you should be able to pull it off. (As a last resort, you can always seek the help of someone at your local golf club.)

Right then folks, without further ado, here’s the deal.

How to Determine Your Golf Handicap

Find Your Gross Score

As we said above, the golf handicap represents a way of giving you the opportunity to compete with players outside of your skill level and still be able to compare your results in a fair way.

So, to begin computing this score, you need to have played no less than 5 and no more than 20 games, the scores of which could be taken into consideration. For example, if you’ve played plenty of 18-hole games, 5 games will be enough to determine the value we’re talking about.

In case you’ve played mostly 9-hole games, you’d need at least 10, so that you can have some idea of how well you did. Or, to be more precise – how well you tend to do.

Next, you should count the number of strokes you took for each hole and as you do that, also adjust for the maximum number of allowed strokes the club you’re in dictates. (This value varies from club to club, so you need to learn what this is for the place you’re playing in. This isn’t too difficult luckily, because clubs usually display these numbers as a part of their course guidelines.)

For example, many clubs allow 5 strokes per hole, so if you had more than five, you need to reduce that number to 5. If you had less, you just write down the number you had. This way, the only number you can have is 1 through 5, so calculating the rest of the equation is easier.

So, if you have five 18-hole games, what you do is the following:

  • Add up all the numbers of strokes for each hole for a single round. Depending on how well you did, you can get different numbers, but 50-70 is an average value for many players.
  • Add all of these five final numbers to get one number, which is your AGS – adjusted gross score. You’ll then use this value to do the equation below.

Figure Out the Handicap Differential

The equation we talked about in the section above would be the following:

  • Your AGS minus the course rating multiplied by 113
  • Then you take the number you get by doing everything above and divide it by the slope rating
  • What you get is now your handicap differential

For example, if your AGS is 80, the course rating is 70, and the slope rating is 115, your handicap differential will be 9.82.

Calculate the Handicap Index

Now that you’ve determined your handicap differential for one game, you need to do that for at least 5 and at most 20 games, to come up with your handicap index.

The goal here is to take the lowest possible value out of these, so if you have more than five games you can pick the ones you want. As far as the formula itself is concerned, the idea is fairly straightforward – you add up the values of your differentials and then divide them by the number of differentials you’re using to get the average value.

Once you’ve done this, multiply the resulting number by 0.96, which represents ‘bonus for excellence’. The number you get after this will then be your handicap index.

For example, if you take five games where you had the following AGSs – 10, 12, 15, 12, and 11, you will add up all of these and get 60. Then, you divide this number with 5 (the number of games) to get 12.

After this, multiply 12 by 0.96 and you will get 11.52, which is your golf handicap.

As a last touch, you need to also drop the digit behind the tenths, which would give you 11.5 as your final golf handicap value. (Remember though, that even though you need to drop the digit after the tenth, you shouldn’t discard the tenth. So, no rounding up.)

Once you have this value, you can then further use it to calculate your handicap on specific courses and in different competitions. This will give you the opportunity to compete with players of varying skill levels and ensure all of you will have a fair competition.

Of course, as you grow more skilled, you will want to slowly start adjusting your golf handicap, so that it reflects how good you are currently at the game.

Overall speaking, the best way to improve your golf handicap would be to practice golf as often as you can – because it’s pretty much the only way of furthering your golf skills. (If we exclude practicing at home – which can also be a good way of honing various specific golfing skills such as putting and swinging.) Other than practicing, you may also want to play at as many different golf courses as possible to get the experience of playing in different terrain and weather conditions.

All in all, we hope this article helped you calculate your golf handicap and we wish you the best of luck with improving your golfing skills and plenty of success in golfing tournaments.