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How to Calculate Golf Handicap?

How to Calculate Golf Handicap?

There is a short and specific question that often comes up in golf discussions and communities. Can you guess it? It is “what is your handicap?” This is one of those inquiries that usually provoke embellished and boastful, or embarrassed and uncomfortable responses.

So, when you and your new golf buddy decide to tee off at a local course, you might have to calculate your handicap. However, there is a chance you experience a Roger Clemens moment. In this case, you might not be able to recall how to work out or calculate golf handicap. Nonetheless, do not worry, we will cover this topic in detail.

Golf Handicap Formula Inputs

There are a few inputs or numbers that you need for performing the handicap score or index calculation. To make things easier for you, here’s a brief list:

  • The first one is obvious. Here, you need to use your scores (duh!), which range from 5 to 20. Also, remember that these are the adjusted gross scores
  • The USGA provides the course ratings of various golf courses you play on. Moreover, they also provide the slope ratings of the different golf courses you play on

Once you have these numbers on hand, you can get into the math of the golf handicap formula.

Calculate the Differentials

You have to use your adjusted gross score, slope ratings and the course ratings to calculate the golf handicap differential for every round you have played using the formula below:

(Score – Course Rating) x 113 / Slope Rating

For instance, let’s assume your adjusted score is 85. In this case, the slope rating is 131. Moreover, the course rating is 72.2. The formula will be:

(85 – 72.2) x 113 / 131 = 11.04

The sum of the above calculation yields your handicap differential. You have to calculate this for each round you enter.

Number of Differentials to Use

Not all differentials computed in the previous step are applicable in our next step. If you enter only 5 rounds, you only have to use the lowest differentials among those 5 in the next step.

Average Your Differentials

Now calculate the average of the differentials by simply aggregating them and dividing the result by the number used.

Arriving at the Handicap Index

Now, we come to the last step. Here, you have to use the number from the last step and multiply it by 0.96. Also, you can leave out the numbers after the tenths (no need to round off) and the resulting number is your golf handicap index.

Suppose our differentials work out to 12.33, 11.04, 9.87, 10.59 and 14.66. Next, add up these numbers, which comes up to 58.49. As we have used 5 differentials, we divide 58.49 by 5, which give 11.698. After this, simply multiply 11.698 by 0.96, which gives 11.23. Here, 11.2 is the handicap index.

Thankfully, there is no need to do the above calculations on your own. The handicap committee of your golf club will handle it on your behalf. So, don’t fret if you are not good at math.

About Trevor Johnson

As a PGA Professional, Trevor has worked at some of the most prestigious golf clubs in the country. His most recent position was Head Golf Professional at Bay Colony Golf Club in Naples, Florida. Trevor is a Florida local and has spent a great deal of time on the greens and fairways of many of the top golf courses in Florida. In his spare time, Trevor writes articles for FloridaGolfing.com and loves sharing his knowledge and insight on the top golf courses in Florida. Trevor and his wife Jen have two wonderful children, Lincoln and Reese. Trevor moved to Southwest Florida in 2003 after graduating from Ferris State University as a Marketing major with an emphasis in Professional Golf Management. In between rounds, Trevor focuses on his business pursuits and is the co-founder of Snowbird Pros, which helps clients find the perfect home on the perfect golf course.

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