Archives for May 2013

How Do You Calculate and Use a Golf Handicap Index?

screen-12-4In the early part of the twentieth century, the United States Golf Association (USGA) made a decision to even the playing field among amateur golfers in an attempt to make golf more fun and equitable.  The premise was that golf would be much more fun if you could “handicap” a better player when they are playing others of lesser skill levels;  the match would be more even and competitive.

The challenge, of course, was determining a fair handicapping system.  In the effort to develop a fair  handicapping system, several systems have been developed.  In the United States, the GHIN, system is the most accepted system.  Other countries have different systems.  Handicap systems are not used in professional golf.  Amateur golfers who are not members of golf clubs are generally ineligible for “official” handicaps.

A player’s handicap is intended to show a player’s “potential”, and not a player’s average score.  The frequency by which a player will play to their handicap is a function of that golfer’s handicap, as low handicappers are statistically more consistent than higher handicappers.  The USGA refers to this as the “average best” method.  So in a large, handicapped competition, the golfer who shoots the best with respect to his abilities and the normal variations of the score should win.

In the United States, handicaps are calculated based on several  variables including the scores from the most recent rounds, the “course rating” and “slope” of the course they are playing.  A handicap differential is then calculated from these scores.

Calculation for handicap index:  This is a calculated number.  You must first know the course rating and slope

1.  A minimum of 5 scores and a maximum of 20 scores is required to start

2.  First, calculate the Handicap Differential for each round

Handicap Differential  = ( score- course rating ) x 113 / slope

** the number 113 represents the slop rating of a golf course of average  difficulty

3.  Note that a variable number of differentials are used .  For 5 rounds entered, use the 1 lowest differential.  For 10 rounds, use the 3 lowest differentials, and for 10 rounds, use the 10 lowest differentials.

4.  Take an average of the differentials used by adding them together and dividing them by the number of differentials used.   ( If 5 differentials are used, add them up and divide by 5 )

5.  Multiply this result by 0.96 ( 96%).  Drop all the digits after the tenths ( do not round off ) and the result is your handicap index.

Once the player has an official Handicap Index, this number can be “carried” to different courses to determine the players “Course Handicap” .  It is the Course Handicap, that is generally used to determine the Handicap that a player uses in a Tournament/Match at any specific course.

Calculation for Course Handicap Index:

Course Handicap = ( handicap index x slope ) / 113

Striker Golf GPS will calculate your Handicap Index based on the rounds of golf that you play.  It will also calculate the course handicap for each player your group who knows their handicap index so that you can play a competitive round of golf with your buddies using your your handicaps on an even playing field.


Forming a golf club is not at all difficult. A “golf club” is an organization of at least ten individual members that operates under by-laws with committees (including a Handicap Committee) to supervise golf activities, provide peer review, and maintain the integrity of the USGA Handicap System™ . A golf club must be licensed by the USGA® to utilize the USGA Handicap System. A club can obtain a license agreement directly from the USGA or through its membership in an authorized golf association that is already licensed by the USGA and that has jurisdiction in the geographic area that includes the principal location of the golf club.

Members of a golf club must have a reasonable and regular opportunity to play golf with each other. They must be able to return scores personally. These scores must be readily available for inspection by others, including, but not limited to, fellow members and the club’s Handicap Committee.

Each golf club must determine its type. A golf club is one of three (3) types:

1. It is located at a single specific golf course with a valid USGA Course Rating™ and USGA Slope Rating® where a majority of the club’s events are played and the club’s scoring records reside; or

2. Its members are affiliated or known to one another via a business, fraternal, ethnic or social organization. The majority of the club members had an affiliation prior to organizing the club; or

3. The members had no prior affiliation and a majority of the recruiting and sign-up of the membership is done by solicitation to the general public (e.g., Internet, newspaper).

An organization of amateur golfers at a public course is considered a golf club if it satisfies the above conditions. If a “golf club” which utilizes the USGA Handicap System is not readily available to you, you can create such a club with a minimum of ten golfers. The club can be formed from business associates or just golfing friends, provided that they live in a close geographic area and play golf regularly together.