What is Handicap in Golf?

The handicapping system in golf is designed to help players of all levels compete fairly against each other. This system allows players with different levels of ability to play together and still have a good chance at winning. But what exactly is the handicapping system, and how does it work? Let’s take a closer look. Learn What is Handicap in Golf?


What is Handicap in Golf?

The Basics of Handicaps

A player’s handicap is determined by their average score over a set number of rounds and it reflects the player’s true playing ability. For example, if Player A has an 18 handicap, that means they are expected to shoot 18 strokes over par on any given round of golf. The lower the handicap, the better the golfer’s playing ability is assumed to be. A single-digit handicap (an 8 or below) indicates an exceedingly skilled player.

There are several ways you can calculate your own handicap. One way is to join a local golf club or organization that keeps track of everyone’s scores and calculates their handicaps for them. Or you can calculate your own by tracking your scores over multiple rounds and then comparing them against the course rating for each round (the course rating reflects how difficult a particular course is). Once you have calculated your average score, you can use an online calculator to determine your exact handicap index. This index will then be used as a measure of comparison when playing with someone else who also has a handicap index.

How Handicaps Help You Play Fairly

The main purpose of having a handicap index is so that players of different skill levels can play together on equal footing. When two players with different skill levels tee off together, their scores are adjusted according to their individual indexes in order to level out the playing field and make sure everyone has an equal chance at victory (or at least competition). To do this, one player’s score will be subtracted from another according to which one has the higher index (the more experienced golfer).  This ensures that both golfers have an equal opportunity for success even though they may have vastly different playing abilities overall.


Understanding what exactly a handicap index is in golf and why it exists will help ensure more fair competition between players with different levels of experience or skill sets on the course. Knowing how your own index works will help you understand how much better or worse off you may be compared to others when playing together, as well as give you some insight as to where your own game stands among those around you who also enjoy this great sport!

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