How Often Should You Shoot Your Handicap?

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How Often Should You Shoot Your Handicap

According to the USGA Handicap Research Team, golfers shoot their handicap or better approximately 25% of the time. However, this figure varies based on skill level and competition format. Players with better handicaps achieve their handicaps more often, emphasizing the system’s effectiveness.

Achieving your handicap can be an exciting challenge, bringing a new score to your game. A weekend golfer may achieve this once or twice a season, but it becomes the norm for seasoned players and professionals. So, how often should you shoot your handicap?

How Often Should You Shoot Your Handicap

How Often Should You Shoot Your Handicap: You Must Know!

The USGA Handicap Research Team’s analysis reveals that average golfers play to their handicap or better only 25% of the time. According to this statistic, a handicap reflects a player’s potential rather than consistent performance.

A 3-stroke higher average emphasizes the challenge of achieving one’s potential consistently. There are distinctions in handicap performance based on skill level and competition format.

However, better players with lower handicaps tend to play to their handicap more often, reflecting their greater consistency. Those with a handicap of 5 or less hit their handicap 36% of the time, compared to 19% for those with a handicap of 29 or more.

Let’s take a look at this chart:

Handicap RangePercentage
5 or less36%
6 to 1232%
13 to 2029%
21 to 2826%
29 and above19%

Moreover, competition format affects performance significantly. Golfers play to their handicap only 26% of the time in stroke play, 31% in Stableford, and over 44% in par/bogey. This suggests that a player’s handicap is influenced by the game’s nature and scoring system.

Over 7.5 million scores were analyzed to provide insight into how often golfers play to their handicaps:

  • In stroke play competitions, 26% of golfers played to their handicap.
  • In Stableford events, this number rose to 31%.
  • In par/bogey competitions, over 44% of golfers played to their handicap.

World Handicap System Updates Calculation

In 2020, the USGA and the R&A introduced the World Handicap System (WHS), significantly changing how golf handicaps are calculated worldwide

Golfers from different regions could compete on a level playing field with the WHS because it standardized handicap systems in other countries. The WHS introduced the following fundamental changes:

Best Eight of Past 20 Scores:

Like the previous system, the WHS considers a golfer’s best scores. However, it now uses the first averaging the best 8 out of the last 20 scores when calculating the handicap index. This change is more noticeable for golfers outside the United States.

Elimination of Buffer Zone:

For UK-based players, the “buffer zone” concept is no longer relevant under the WHS. If golfers don’t play to their handicap, their handicap does not automatically increase by 0.1.

It is now possible to change the handicap every time a golfer plays, as the most recent round discounts the oldest.

Course Handicap Calculation Change:

The formula for calculating the course handicap has been modified. Previously, it was based on the handicap index and the course’s slope rating. The course handicap also considers how many strokes a player gets about par.

The new formula is Course Handicap = Handicap Index x (Slope Rating/113) + (Course Rating – Par). This change aims to make players who play off different tees fairer.

Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC):

Using WHS’s Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC), players’ handicap indexes are adjusted by the average of all scores posted on a given day. This is particularly relevant on days when weather conditions significantly affect scores. The PCC is used when scores are higher than usual because of adverse weather.

Expected Impact on Handicaps:

It is anticipated that, under the WHS, amateur golfers may have lower handicaps with fewer fluctuations. It is because the system now considers both weather conditions and how a score relates to par.

As a result, golfers may experience more stability in their handicap and play closer to their handicap more often. The WHS strives to provide a more accurate global reflection of a golfer’s current skills.

Read more- How To Get A Golf Handicap

Under The New WHS, Which Is My Handicap Based on My Score?

Based on your score, you will calculate your handicap under the new World Handicap System (WHS). The formula for calculating the handicap differential for a round is as follows:

Handicap Differential= SlopeRating/[(AdjustedScore−CourseRating)×113]

​For the initial handicap calculation, where the max net par is three over par, the adjusted score is the lesser of the gross adjusted score and the maximum net par.

Here’s a step-by-step example using your Pebble Beach Golf Course scenario:

Golfer’s Score: 100

Course Rating (Pebble Beach): 75

Slope Rating (Pebble Beach): 130

Adjusted Score=min⁡(100,75+3)=78

Adjusted Score=min(100,75+3)=78

Now plug these values into the formula:

Handicap Differential=130[ (78−75)×113]

Handicap Differential≈2.61

This value (2.61) would be one of the differentials used to calculate your Handicap Index. Remember that you need a minimum of 54 holes, comprising any combination of 18-hole and 9-hole rounds, to get an official handicap.

You would repeat this process for each round. After that, the handicap index is calculated using the eight best differentials out of your last 20.

Golf’s 95% Rule: What Is It?

Golf’s 95% Rule recommends a 5-handicap allowance for field net events with a minimum of 30 players in medium-sized stroke play formats. If the area has fewer than 30 players, the handicap allowance is increased to 100%.

This rule ensures fair competition and equitable scoring for golfers of varying skill levels. According to the law, golfers should play with a 5% handicap allowance in mid-size field net events.

This allowance is applied to the player’s course handicap, reducing it by 5%. If golfers played with their full handicap, they could attain shallow net scores.

When fields are more significant, the impact of a meager net score on the overall competition is mitigated. Therefore, a 5% allowance is deemed sufficient to maintain fairness.

Suppose a golfer has a course handicap of 18. So, when applying the 95% Rule, a medium-sized field event would result in a handicap reduction of 5%, resulting in a handicap reduction of 17.1. The purpose of this adjustment is to moderate the impact of shallow net scores.

What Percentage Of Golfers Can Break 80?

What Percentage Of Golfers Can Break 80?

Breaking 80 in golf is considered a significant achievement by only about 2% of golfers. This milestone, often regarded as the Holy Grail in golf, requires consistent skill and precision.

However, to break 80, you must meet the following percentages and handicaps:

Breaking 80 Statistics:

Achievement Rate: Only about 2% of golfers manage to break 80.

Considered Holy Grail: Breaking 80 is often considered the Holy Grail of scoring in golf, indicating a high level of skill and proficiency.

Handicap Range: Golfers achieving scores between 76 and 80 typically have handicaps ranging from 3 to 5.

Breaking 70 and Other Scoring Benchmarks:

Breaking 70: According to the United States Golf Association (USGA), only 0.92% of golfers consistently fail 70.

Handicap Range (81-85): Golfers shooting between 81 and 85 typically have handicaps ranging from 6 to 9.

Average Golf Handicap and Scoring:

Average Distance: The average 18-hole score for golfers is around 100 strokes.

Handicap Index: A good golf handicap is considered to be less than ten.

Men’s Average Score: According to the Handicap Index for Men in the United States, the average score is 14.9 strokes, slightly lower than in 1990.

Driving Distance and Swing Speed:

Long Drives: Only 4% of golfers average over 300 yards off the tee.

Swing Speed: Men are generally allowed to swing at speeds ranging from 75 to 90 mph, with a minimum of 75 mph required.

Intermediate Golfer’s Handicap:

Indicator of Skill: An intermediate golfer’s handicap index of 35 or higher is considered a good indicator of their playing ability.

Generally, breaking 80 in golf is a rare achievement, achieved by a relatively small number of players. Achieving a score in the 70s is challenging, illustrating the skill and precision required.

How Do You Determine a Golfer’s Average, Good, and Lousy Handicap?

Golfers often wonder how their handicap compares globally. Research reveals average handicaps for men and women in various countries. They provide insights into what’s considered moderate, exemplary, or wrong.

In brief, here’s what’s involved:

Average Handicaps (Pre-World Handicap System)


Usually, A male golfer with a 12 handicap is considered good, being a couple of strokes better than the average in the USA, UK, and Australia. On the Contrary, a female golfer with a 12 handicap is deemed excellent, given the higher average handicaps for women.

Notably, over 80% of golfers don’t have a handicap, potentially influencing reported averages to be artificially low.

The World Handicap System (WHS) has brought global standardization, allowing golfers to compare handicaps worldwide. With WHS in effect, golfers can confidently compare their handicaps with players worldwide, ensuring a standardized assessment.

WHS replaces diverse handicap systems, offering uniform guidelines for calculating handicaps globally.


How Many Times Should I Shoot My Handicap?

Golfers should aim to shoot their Course Handicap or better about 25% of the time, according to the USGA Handicap Research Team. In this target, you must achieve the Course Rating of the chosen tees once every four to five rounds.

What should I shoot based on my handicap?

Based on your handicap, the majority of your scores should fall within three strokes over or under your handicap.
In general, 16 handicappers should strive for scores between 87 and 93, with around 20% of rounds scoring 87 or lower.

What is my handicap if I consistently shoot 90?

If you consistently shoot around 90 on par 72 golf courses, your golf handicap would be estimated to be about 18.
The golf handicap is a numerical measure of a golfer’s playing ability, with lower values indicating better performance.

How can I improve my 30 handicap?

To improve a 30 handicap, take lessons to refine your swing, practice consistently with a focus on the short game, and improve your course management. Make more strategic decisions on the course by emphasizing accuracy over distance.

What is a respectable handicap?

Generally, golfers with a respectable handicap are those with a handicap index below 14 for men and under 28 for women. It reflects a higher skill level and consistency in Ione’s golf game.

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Hey, I am Allen Jackson a golf expert with over 30 years of experience. From my childhood, I have found my passion. I played on high school and college teams and went on to become a professional golfer. Now, I am a full-time trainer.

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