Everything You Need to Know About Golf Handicaps

Golf Handicaps are by far one of the most difficult things for new golfers and non-golfers to understand. Deer Creek Golf Club has the cure. We have created this short golf handicap guide filled with all the basic information you need to know about handicaps. Read on to learn how golf handicaps work and how to calculate your handicap.  

What is a Golf Handicap?

A golf handicap is the difference between the total golf course par and the average number of strokes a golfer plays in about 10 games.

Par is the number of strokes a golfer should take to finish the course (or hole.)

Your golf handicap is the number of strokes you played over what is considered the average strokes for that course. So, a par 4 means that it should take you 4 strokes to sink the ball.

Some things to think about:

  • The lower the handicap, the better the golfer; and the higher the handicap, the worse the golfer. If you have a high handicap, you need more than the suggested number of strokes (par) to finish the golf course.
  • Scratch golfers have a handicap of zero. That means they finish the course or hole on par.
  • You’ll often see golf pros with negative handicaps. That’s because they are finishing the course or the hole in fewer strokes than the rest of us!

Why Do We Need Golf Handicaps?

The United States Golf Association maintains the integrity and standards associated with golf handicaps. Creating a uniform system was the only way to ensure that there is conformity within the sport.

How to Calculate Your Handicap

Golf Score Basics – First you need to keep track of all your strokes. That’s why you’ll see golfers walking the local South Florida golf course with a pencil and a pad. You also need to know what the course pars are and you can find that information by visiting the pro shop.

Calculating Your Score – Add up all swings or strokes including the puts you make. You determine your handicap by subtracting all your strokes from the course par. Based on that, your handicap will be either a positive number, negative number, or scratch, which means equal to par. Most players are going to have a positive number. It takes years of practice and skill to get to a negative handicap.

Who Wins in a Golf Game? – The winner is the person with the lowest score for that hole.

How to Calculate Your Handicap – This is going to require at least five games of golf with 18 holes in each game. You don’t want to go over 20 games total when calculating your handicap. Keep track of these scores. Put them in your golf bag side pocket. Some holes have a score maximum, so if your strokes total over that maximum, then don’t count your strokes and instead count that maximum. All courses have the info on their maximums, so check with the Deer Creek Golf Club.

Handicap Total – Total up all your strokes (or maximums). Now take the course rating (also available at the golf pro shop) and subtract your average. Lastly, multiply that number by 113. We know that’s a strange number, but that’s the number you’ll see whenever you work out your handicap.

Success! – Your golf handicap is technically called your handicap index. There are formulas to determine your golf handicap deferential, as well as a formula to determine your handicap for a specific course at Deer Creek Golf Club. When people ask you what your handicap is, this is usually the number they are referring to.


how to calculate your handicap infographic