What is a Good Golf Handicap?

Golf is a relative game, but still a competitive one. Whether it is prestigious tournaments, local club matches, or just competing with how you played last month, golfers are always looking for a way to measure themselves against other golfers. For many, a handicap provides this measurement. Which begs the question – what is a good handicap?

I think the answer goes beyond just a number, so here we’ll take a look at what a handicap is and add some context to create a better answer.

Golf Handicap Explained

While commonly called a handicap, the USGA’s official terminology is a “Handicap Index.” The purpose of the handicap index is to give a measure of player ability relative to par. One of the unique things about golf compared to other sports is that the handicapping system allows golfers of different ability levels to compete against each other fairly.

It’s a fantastic thing if you think about it; after all, even if I’m given 20 points in a game of one-on-one basketball with LeBron James, I’m still going to lose. Give me 20 handicap strokes in a match with Tiger Woods, though? I might be competitive, making it a challenge for both of us. (author’s note: If you’re reading this Tiger, that’s an open invitation)

Handicap Is Not Your Average Score

A player’s handicap index is different from their average score. Instead, the handicap index looks at recent scores and adjusts based on the course’s difficulty, expressed in the course rating and slope, two numbers that appear somewhere on the scorecard. Rating and slope are judged by a review committee, which determines what a 0 handicap index “scratch golfer” would usually score on the course and assign that as the rating. The USGA Slope Rating is a numerical value that indicates the relative difficulty of a set of tees on a golf course for a bogey golfer compared to a scratch golfer.

So score performance along with course difficulty goes into generating the handicap indexInstead, it is better to think of the handicap index number as what you can reasonably expect to score on a good day. Especially for golfers who play frequently and post many scores, what they shoot for a given round can be significantly higher than their handicap index.

Now that we’ve explained a bit about golf handicaps in general, let’s get back to the main question, what is a good golf handicap?

Percentage of Golfers by Handicap

The most straightforward answer to what a good handicap is might be found by merely looking at the percent of golfers by handicap. Fortunately, the USGA gives this data for all golfers with official handicap indexes. Also, multiple shot-tracking companies are now sharing this data publicly, which offers a good opportunity to capture an audience that might not have an official USGA handicap.

USGA Handicap Trends

So, if we want to define a “good handicap” based just on having a lower handicap index than most other

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By: Jon
Title: What is a Good Golf Handicap?
Sourced From: practical-golf.com/what-is-a-good-golf-handicap/
Published Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2020 20:00:39 +0000


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