What Does Handicap Mean in Golf, and How to Track Yours

“Handicap” is a concept widely used in golf. It is one of the main topics related to this sport that players should understand to avoid particular problems from the beginning.

The “handicap” is a number used to refer to your ability, based on previous scores. Handicaps are widely used to keeping up with your progress and comparing it to other players.

For men, handicaps are expressed in numbers from zero to twenty-eight. For women, it is from zero to thirty-six. This number symbolizes the amount of “strokes over par” you are required to score while you’re playing on an unbiased course.

Understanding the handicap system is crucial for you to become a better player, so it isn’t rare to see multiple blogs or even experts in real-life cover this topic on multiple occasions. After all, it is one of the topics that cause the most confusion amongst the players, especially in those who are beginning.

Although you may perceive this system as complicated and confusing at first, if you’re patient enough, you’ll be able to understand it with no problems.

For starters, you can only possess one handicap. Therefore, this number is not based on or depends on individual golf courses. You will always have one handicap regardless of the game you’re playing, either easy or difficult courses.

How to calculate your handicap

Particular factors affect your handicap, each of which you should be familiar with to calculate your handicap accurately. The factors are described below.

Course rating

This factor depends on the current golf course. Therefore, it may change in other games, and you may have to “recalculate” your handicap after you’re finished. The course rating refers to the “hypothetical” score that a scratch player (a golfer with zero handicaps) should achieve on the current course for the next eighteen holes.

Slope rating

Slope rating is easier to understand. It refers to the score difference between the scratch and a bogey player.

Equitable stroke control

This factor is your current score. Still, it is necessary to make modifications if that bad hole you made puts it at risk.

So, what’s the formula?

It’s time to start practicing your basic math if you haven’t been in touch with it in a long time. These are the steps you need to follow to find out what your handicap differential is.

  1. First, you should take your equitable stroke control and subtract the course rating.
  2. You should multiply the previous result by 113.
  3. And lastly, you’ll obtain the result if you divide the above result by the course’s slope rating.

But hey, we are not done yet! This is your handicap differential. It is not your handicap. We still have to reach that point.

Once you’ve found out what your handicap differential is for the next five rounds, then you can assume that the lowest differential is your current handicap.  For instance, let’s say that you have about twenty official rounds. That would mean your handicap should be the “lowest” ten differentials.

This process may seem confusing, but you don’t have to handle it on your own if you’re a golf club member. Sometimes, these clubs offer calculation services for handicaps. But if you’re still curious and would like to get a precise result, you can always access an online handicap calculator and get your handicap quickly.

How do you use the handicap?

It’s not complicated. You may use your handicap to estimate your net score during your next golf game.  However, you’ll need your course handicap for it. For this process, you should follow the steps mentioned above to calculate your handicap differential and then subtract the total score minus the course handicap.

These numbers are meant to tell you how well you are doing in your game, so that’s why you should take them seriously.

Do you need higher or lower numbers?

This answer is obvious. The lower your handicap is, the better you’re doing in your golfing. And how do you improve your abilities? Easy: you should play as much as possible.

Lower handicaps are synonymous with great golf abilities, so make sure to sharpen them whenever you have the chance!

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