Game Rules

Handicaps in golf


The term handicap is the most important rule in the game of golf. It is to measure the potential playing ability of the golfer. This is derived based on the tees that the golfer had played in a particular golf course.

The handicap measures the net score from the number of strokes played during a game which will then determine the proficiency of the player against his or her competitors. In this context, the higher the handicap, it is regarded that the player is poorer as compared to other golfers with handicaps which are lower. Such an indication makes a lot of difference especially in competitions as it can influence the outcome of the competition in many ways.

Formula to calculate Handicap

In national or international golf associations, there are official handicaps which will relate to the standings of the golfer. A certain formula is used in calculating the handicap of a player. This is related in terms of the number of strokes above or below par of the player’s ability. In most situations, this depends on the 10 best scores that were recorded it the 20 rounds previously.

It cannot be assumed that a golfer’s handicap reveals that average score of his game as this measurement actually shows the player’s potential more accurately.

In cases like these, it can be seen that a 3 handicapper has better potential than a 9 handicapper. A golfer who averages 19-over-par might not necessarily have a 19 handicap game as it is usually a few strokes lesser than that.

A handicap index is usually the official handicap used by golf associations. A golfer will need to establish a minimum of 5 of his most recent scores together with the course and slope rating of the courses he played in before obtaining his official handicap. From there, the course handicap is determined. This will indicate how many strokes the golfer is allowed to take on that particular green. This simply means that a golfer is allowed to deduct 12 strokes from his score throughout the round if it has been determined that the course has a 12 course handicap, knowing fair well that the lower the handicap, the better it is for the golfer.

A ‘scratch golfer’ is one with a zero handicap. On the other end, a bogey golfer is one with approximately 18 handicaps. In certain situations, a handicap below 0 is possible which is known as a plus handicap.