What is a handicap in golf?

A golf handicap, sometimes referred to as GHIN handicap, USGA handicap, or WHS handicap, is a measure of a person's demonstrated ability as a golfer.

November 9, 2022

A golf handicap, sometimes referred to as GHIN handicap, USGA handicap, or WHS handicap, is a measure of a person's demonstrated ability as a golfer.

Golf handicaps can seem like a confusing subject, but we're here to answer all your questions. Here are some frequently asked questions about golf handicaps:


What is a handicap index?

A handicap index is a number unique to each golfer that allows players to play together on an even playing field. The handicap number indicates the relative skill of the golfer, and can be used to create fair games between golfing partners and groups.


How do you calculate a handicap index?

A handicap is calculated by looking at a subset of a golfer's recent scores. Specifically, the best 8 out of a golfer's most recent 20 scores. The detailed calculation can be found here. The math may look complicated, but the principle is simple. A handicap is roughly the number of strokes a golfer is expected to shoot over par on a normal par 72 course.


For example: A golfer with a handicap of 25 will be expected to shoot 25 + 72 = 97 on at a regular par 72 course.


Why should you get a handicap index?

There are many reasons to consider getting a handicap! You should consider getting a handicap index if:


  • You want to compete in events where a handicap is required

  • You want to compete in handicapped (net) games like match play, skins, nassau, nines, or stroke play

  • You want to track your performance over time with an objective measure


What is a good handicap index?

It's hard to say what is a "good" handicap index. For someone who was previously a 20 handicap, playing at a 10 handicap will feel good, while the opposite will feel bad. The maximum handicap according to the USGA is 54, while Tiger Woods at his prime was a +9 handicap or better (handicaps are "+" or positive for exceptional golfers). In general, lower handicaps are better than higher handicaps, but that doesn't mean they will always score lower.


What is a scratch golfer?

A "scratch" golfer is someone who is expected to shoot close to par on a normal par 72 course. Their handicap will be roughly 0.


Where can I get a handicap index?

If you live in the United States, you can find where to get a handicap here.


If you live outside the United States, find out where you can get a handicap at the World Handicap System website under "Find Your Authorized Association".


How do I edit or delete a score that has already been posted to my handicap index?

Your Handicap Index is authorized by the USGA and maintained by local Allied Golf Associations and clubs. Once posted, Leaderboard has no ability to edit or delete scores.   

To edit or delete a score, you have to contact your club or local Allied Golf Association.As

The Leaderboard
Newsletter

Group 125 (1)_edited.jpg

Get the latest news and app updates from the Leaderboard Team

You might also like...

You Also Might Like

Contribute to the Leaderboard Blog with Community Posts

You Also Might Like

What is a handicap in golf?

You Also Might Like

Report Incorrect Course Data Directly From Leaderboard

You Also Might Like

Leaderboard Now Tracks Your Lifetime Personal Records

You Also Might Like

International Courses Now Available on Leaderboard

Get On Leaderboard

Download_on_the_App_Store_Badge.svg.png
Group 166 (2).png