A golf handicap is a numerical measure of an amateur
golfer's playing ability. It can be used to calculate a so-called "net" score
from the number of strokes actually played, thus allowing players of different
proficiency to play against each other on equal terms. Handicaps are
administrated by golf clubs or national golf associations. Exact rules relating
to handicaps can vary from country to country.
Handicap systems are not used in professional golf.
While there are many variations in detail, handicap
systems are based on calculating an individual player's golfing ability from his
or her recent history of rounds. Therefore, a handicap is not fixed but is
regularly adjusted to increases or decreases in a player's scoring.
A player's handicap is roughly equal to the average number
of strokes that he or she plays above the par of a course. Thus, an expert
golfer who plays a course in even par (scratch golfer) will have a
handicap of 0. A player who constantly plays a 100 on a par-72 course will have
an approximate handicap of 100 − 72 = 28. (See below for the precise calculation
The par of each golf course can be said to be the number
of strokes it would take a scratch golfer to complete a round in which two putts
were taken on each green.
In the U.K., a "Scratch Score" system was previously in
place in order to rate courses and be fair to golfers of varying ability, and to
make allowances that courses may play "easier" or "harder" than par, overall, to
the amateur field. For this reason, a Standard Scratch Score (SSS) is
used as a baseline for how the course plays in practice (e.g. an SSS lower than
par indicates a course which golfers find slightly easier, and vice versa).
Akin to the SSS is the Competition Scratch Score (CSS).
The principle is the same, only this describes how easy or difficult the course
played during a given competition. It is against this CSS score that a player's
handicap is adjusted by the club. Golfers with a handicap of 5 or lower are said
to be Division 1 players. Higher handicap players are categorised as Division 2,
3, or 4. For every stroke the Division 1 golfer's net score is below the CSS,
their handicap is reduced by 0.1. For Division 2 golfers, this figure is 0.2,
for Division 3 golfers it is a 0.3 reduction, and 0.4 for Division 4 category
Similarly, amateur golfers are allowed a buffer zone
to protect their handicap on "off-days". For Div 1 this is 1 stroke, for Div 2
this is 2 strokes, etc. This means that if a Division 1 golfer's net score is
one stroke higher than the CSS, their handicap will not increase. If a golfer's
net score is higher than the CSS plus buffer zone combined, their handicap will
increase by 0.1. This 0.1 increase covers all golfers and does not vary by
Note that it is possible to have a handicap below 0
(scratch). Handicaps below 0 are referred to as 'plus' handicaps, and at the end
of the round, a 'plus' handicap golfer must add his handicap to his score.
Example, a golfer playing with a handicap of 'plus' 2 who shoots a score of 70
would have a net score of 72.
A professional golfer plays off scratch, but has no actual
In the United States (and elsewhere) each officially rated
golf course is described by two numbers, the course rating and the
slope rating. For each posted round, the handicap differential is calculated
according to the following formula:
Handicap differential = (gross score − course rating) ×
113 / (course slope).
The differential is rounded to the nearest tenth.
The handicap index is calculated using the average of the
best 10 differentials (using the formula above) of the past 20, times 0.96.
Rather than rounding, any digits after the tenths are dropped. If a golfer has
at least 5 but fewer than 20 rounds posted, the index is calculated using from
one to nine differentials according to a schedule. Updates to a golfer's index
are calculated periodically according to schedules provided by state and
regional golf associations.
The handicap index is used with the course's slope rating
to determine the golfer's course handicap according to the following formula:
Course Handicap = Handicap index * Slope Rating / 113. The
result is rounded to the nearest whole number.
The course handicap is the number of strokes to be
deducted from the golfer's gross score to determine the net score.
For example, the following table shows the impact of the
same score at two different tee positions at the same course, and the resulting
Gross score: 85 Course rating: 69.3 Course slope: 117
Yields a handicap differential of 15.2. If this golfer's
handicap index is 10.5, the course handicap would be 10.5 * 117 / 113 = 11, and
the net score would be 85 − 11 = 74.
Gross score: 85 Course rating: 71.9 Course slope: 124
Yields a handicap differential of 11.9. If this golfer's
handicap index is 10.5, the course handicap would be 10.5 * 124 / 113 = 12, and
the net score would be 85 − 12 = 73.
How to edit a handicap the correct way:
Let's say you shoot 77 and the course rating is 71.2 and
the slope is 121.
First you take your score and subtract that by the course
rating. Which in this case is 5.8. you then take the differential in this case
5.8 and multiply that by the slope which in this case is 121. Then you take that
number 700.8 in this case and divide it by 113. 113 is the standard slope rating
for most courses. This means that his actual handicap is 6.2
Z x Slope=A
A/113 = Handicap Differential
Before making the above calculation, the gross score must be adjusted using the
equitable score control table, which removes the effect of abnormally high
individual hole scores by establishing a maximum score per hole depending on the
player's handicap index. For example, a golfer with a course handicap of 20
through 29 can record a maximum of 8 strokes on any one hole for handicap
calculation purposes only.
A player's handicap is not meant to reflect what they
shoot in a typical round, but rather what their best score would most likely be
per approximately every four rounds.
The handicap is used to determine on which holes a player
(or team) is granted extra strokes. These are then used to calculate a "net"
score from the number of strokes actually played ("gross" score).
To find how many strokes a player is given, the procedures
differ between in match play and stroke play. In match play, the
difference between the players' (or teams') handicaps is distributed among the
holes to be played. For example, if 18 holes are played, player A's handicap is
24, and player B's handicap is 14, then A is granted ten strokes: one on each of
the ten most difficult holes and no strokes on the remaining eight. If A's
handicap is 36 and B's handicap is 14, A is granted 22 strokes: one on each of
the 18 holes to be played, and an additional one on each of the four most
The procedure in stroke play is similar, but each
player's individual handicap (rather than the difference between two players'
handicaps) is used to calculate extra strokes. Therefore, a player with handicap
10 is granted one stroke on each of the ten most difficult holes and no extra
strokes on the remaining eight. A player with a handicap of 22 is granted 22
strokes: one on each of the 18 holes and an additional one on each of the four
most difficult holes.
Example for the calculation of "net" results: Assume that
A is granted one stroke on a par four hole and player B is granted none. If A
plays six strokes and B plays five, their "net" scores are equal. Therefore, in
match play the hole is halved; in stroke play both have played a
"net" bogey (one over par). If both play five strokes, A has played better by
one "net" stroke. Therefore, in match play A wins the hole; in
play A has played a "net" par and B a "net" bogey.
The slope rating is the USGA mark that indicates
the measurement of the relative difficulty for the bogey golfer compared to the
Course Rating. Slope Rating is computed from the difference between the bogey
rating and the Course Rating. The lowest Slope Rating is 55 and the highest is
155. Example: 125
The Bogey Rating is the one number every golfer worse than
a scratch should check before deciding which tees to play. This rating is the
evaluation of the playing difficulty of a course for the bogey golfer. It is
based on yardage, effective playing length and other obstacles to the extent
that affect the scoring ability of the bogey golfer. To figure out this number,
other than from looking at this database, the bogey golfer should take the Slope
Rating®, divide it by the set factor (5.381 for men, and 4.24 for women) and add
that to the Course Rating. The result is a target score for the bogey golfer,
and is a truer yardstick of the challenge that lies ahead for the particular set
Example: A male golfer plays a course with Slope Rating
126, and Course Rating 72.5. Per the formula, compute 126 / 5.381 + 72.5 = 95.9
- which predicts the bogey golfer's average of his ten best (out of twenty)
scores would be approximately 95.9 from this particular set of tees.
Is there such a thing as a par 6 hole ?
Apparently there is in Arizona At 747 yards
you will have to double check :-)
Q. HI, CAN YOU TELL ME PLEASE IF I COULD BUY A BOOK THAT GIVES
THE HANDICAPS AND ALSO WITH EACH HANDICAP WHAT STROKES YOU GET ON EACH HOLE?
MANY THANKS JOHN