How to Calculate a Golf Handicap [Easy Guide]

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How to Calculate a Golf Handicap

To calculate your golf handicap:

  • Record your adjusted gross scores, then apply Equitable Stroke Control.
  • Calculate differentials for each round [(Score – Course Rating) × 113 / Slope Rating].
  • Pick the top 8 from the most recent 20, multiply by 0.96, and truncate.

Finally, It gives you a fair measure of your golf skills. However, with a complex scoring system, golf allows players of varying abilities to compete against one another fairly and evenly.

You can use this golf handicap calculator to calculate your handicap to handicap index.

This guide will teach you how to calculate a golf handicap, giving you an edge over your competitors. Also, this guide will teach you how to measure your golf handicap accurately and how to use it.

How to Calculate a Golf Handicap

Read More: What Is a golf handicap?

9 Essential Golf Handicap Terms: You Need To Know!

Golf handicaps involve several terms that are essential for understanding how they work and how they affect players. Here are key golfing terms related to handicaps:

Handicap Index

The Handicap Index is a number that is calculated by taking the lowest handicap for 20 rounds of golf. It is used to adjust the difficulty of each course for all players. In golf, it’s a measure of potential ability.

  1. Course Handicap:

The Course Handicap is the number of strokes a player receives on a specific course. It is derived from the Handicap Index and adjusted for the particular course’s difficulty.

  1. Slope Rating:

A slope rating measures the relative difficulty of a golf course for bogey golfers. The difficulty of the course is used in determining the Course Handicap.

The slope rating measures how challenging a course is for Bogey Golfers compared to Scratch Golfers.

The Slope Rating is calculated using the Bogey Rating and Course Rating. It calculates the additional strokes a Bogey Golfer needs (or benefits from) on a particular course.

  1. Course Rating:

A Course Rating refers to how many strokes a Scratch Golfer (a player with a Course Handicap of 0) should take on a particular course.

For golfers, the Course Rating indicates whether a particular course is easy or difficult for top-level players. It serves as the baseline for determining the playing difficulty of the course.

  1. Bogey Rating:

The Bogey Rating is calculated when a bogey golfer plays a particular set of tees. A bogey golfer is typically a player with a Course Handicap of around 20 for men and 24 for women.

From a particular set of tees, a Bogey Golfer can calculate the Bogey Rating of a golf course. It helps assess how challenging the course is for players of moderate skill levels.

  1. Equitable Stroke Control (ESC):

ESC adjusts individual hole scores for handicap purposes to better represent a player’s potential. It sets the maximum Score a player can post on any given hole based on their Course Handicap.

  1. Net Score:

Net Score is a player’s actual Score minus their Course Handicap. In net competitions, players compete against each other after taking their handicaps into account.

  1. Gross Score:

Gross Score is a player’s actual Score without any handicap adjustments. It represents the total number of strokes taken during a round.

  1. Low Handicap:

A golfer with a low handicap has a lower Handicap Index, indicating a higher skill level. Typically, single-digit handicaps (1 to 9) are considered low handicaps.

  1. High Handicap:

A golfer with a high handicap has a higher Handicap Index, suggesting a lower skill level. Double-digit handicaps (10 and above) are often considered high handicaps.

In handicapped competitions, golfers must understand these terms to keep track of their progress and compete equitably. With handicaps, golfers can play together regardless of their abilities.

How To Calculate Golf Handicap: Best Method You Must Try

To calculate your golf handicap, you’ll need to follow a specific formula. The handicap calculation involves a few steps, which have been standardized by golf associations worldwide.

Here’s a detailed explanation of how to calculate your golf handicap:

Step 1: Score Recording

Keep track of your adjusted gross scores for each round of golf. The adjusted gross Score is your total strokes after applying Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) adjustments.

Step 2: Score Differential

For each round of golf, calculate the Score Differential using the following formula: 

Score Differential=[ (Score−CourseRating)×113​] / slope rating

Here is the meaning-

  • The score is your adjusted gross Score (total strokes taken after applying Equitable Stroke Control – ESC).
  • Course Rating is the rating for the specific set of tees you played from.
  • Slope Rating is the slope rating for the specific set of tees you played from.
  • 113 is a constant representing the difficulty of a course for a scratch golfer.

Step 3: Differential Average

Once you have calculated the Score Differential for at least five rounds, find the average of these differentials. If you have more than 20 differentials, use the average of the lowest 10.

Step 4: Handicap Index

Calculate your Handicap Index using the following formula: 

Handicap Index=Differential Average/0.96

Here is the meaning-

  • The 0.96 factor controls the impact of exceptionally low differentials on your handicap.

Step 5: Updating Handicap Index

Golfers should regularly update their scores to maintain an accurate Handicap Index. This ensures that your handicap reflects your current playing ability.

Remember that golf associations and handicap systems usually do these calculations automatically. Typically, golfers enter their scores into a system provided by the golf association, which calculates the Handicap Index.

Therefore, you can calculate and track your golf handicap on various online platforms and mobile apps.

Essential Tips For Calculating Golf Handicap 

  • Before calculating differentials, apply ESC adjustments to your gross scores. In ESC, players can’t post more than their course handicap on any hole.
  • Course and Slope Ratings are specific to each golf course and set of tees. For accurate handicap calculations, the golf course or golf association establishes them.
  • Many golf associations provide online platforms or software that automate the handicap calculation. By entering their scores, the system calculates and updates their Handicap Index.
  • Ensure precise score recording, including equitable stroke control (ESC) adjustments.
  • Know the slope and course rating of the courses you play. These ratings play a crucial role in calculating differentials and, consequently, your handicap.
  • Identify the lowest differentials from your recent rounds. The number of differentials used depends on the number of rounds played.
  • Truncate the result to one decimal place, following the rounding rules. This ensures accuracy in your handicap index.
  • To determine your course handicap, multiply your Handicap Index by the slope rating and divide by 113.
  • Keep your handicap updated regularly, especially after significant rounds. This ensures that your handicap accurately reflects your current playing ability.
  • Understand and apply ESC limits based on your course handicap to adjust scores appropriately.
  • View your handicap as a tool for improvement. Use your handicap as a guide for progress on the golf course by analyzing trends in your scores.

These tips form a comprehensive guide to ensure accuracy and fairness in your golf handicap calculation. It provides a true reflection of your golfing skill.

Course Handicap Calculation Formula

Course Handicap

A Course Handicap allows fair competition among golfers on any golf course worldwide. It considers the difficulty of the specific course and tees being played. Here is the formula:

The equation for Course Handicap

The equation for calculating your Course Handicap is: Course Handicap=Handicap Index×(Slope Rating/113)

Calculation Method:

Your Course Handicap is determined by multiplying your Handicap Index by the ratio of the course’s Slope Rating to 113.

Automatic Calculation:

The My EG app and golf course boards typically use this equation to calculate your Course Handicap automatically. The information is often displayed on boards at or near the golf course’s first tee.

As a whole, WHS calculates your Handicap Index based on your past courses. By adjusting for the specific challenges of the golf course, the Course Handicap ensures fair competition.

You can use either calculation to determine your golfing ability and make the game more enjoyable and competitive.

Initial Handicap Calculation Formula

There is a lengthy process involved in determining your handicap:

  • The handicapper reviews each of your three qualifying rounds, creating adjusted scores. It caps men’s and women’s maximum scores per hole at three over par.
  • A new adjusted score is subtracted from the course’s scratch rating. It represents the effective par of the course, adjusted for difficulty. This subtraction results in a differential.
  • From the three submitted rounds, the one with the lowest differential is chosen. This represents your performance relative to the course’s difficulty.
  • The selected differential is then multiplied by 0.93. It ensures fairness and accuracy in handicap establishment.

Based on your qualifying rounds performance, your handicap is a balanced reflection of your golfing ability.

Is There a Way to Find The  Adjusted Score?

Yes, your adjusted score can be found by adding your handicap to the score you shot in each qualifying round. This will give you an indication of how well you performed relative to your handicap.

Step- 1: Gather at least two handicap differential scores to begin calculating your handicap index.

Step- 2: Add the differential scores and divide by 2. Multiply the result by 0.96, rounding up or down as needed. This yields your handicap index.

Step- 3: Calculating the lowest differential scores depends on the number of rounds played.

Step- 4: Multiply your handicap index by the slope rating of the course you intend to play. Divide the result by the standard slope rating of 113. Round up or down as necessary for your course handicap.

Step- 5: In new, unrated courses, handicap formulas require multiple adjustments. A player’s handicap should be recalculated every five rounds to keep up with their skill level.

How Many Scores Are Needed to Calculate My Handicap Index?

You need at least you need to play and record scores for a total of 54 holes, which can consist of either 9-hole or 18-hole rounds, in any combination.

Now, here’s the drill. Your Adjusted Gross Score (AGS) is the average of those games.

Let’s say your total for five 18-hole rounds is 442. Divide that by 5, and you get 88.4. But in the golf world, we’re keeping it simple, so drop that decimal and round down to 88.

Now, take that AGS and plug it into this formula:

(AGSCourseRating)×113 / Slope Rating

That gives you your handicap differential Score, which is how you played relative to the course difficulty.

Also see, calculating your handicap isn’t tricky. It’s a bit of math mixed with your golf adventures. Whether on the fairway or at the 19th hole, you can keep track and know where you stand.

When Playing Golf, How Does a Handicap Help?

The primary purpose of a golf handicap is to allow players of different skill levels to compete on an equal footing. The United States Golf Association (USGA) provides guidelines for calculating and maintaining handicaps.

Here’s how the golf handicap system helps in more detail:

  • Calculation of Handicap Index:

Calculating the handicap index involves taking the average of a golfer’s recent differentials. Using the course’s slope rating, the difference is between the golfer’s Score and the course rating.

  • Course Handicap:

The golfer’s handicap index is then adjusted based on the difficulty of the course being played. This adjustment is called the Course Handicap. It measures how challenging a course is for a bogey golfer about a scratch golfer.

  • Applying Handicap in Competition

Golfers with different handicaps compete against each other with the handicap system. To determine a player’s net Score, their Course Handicap is subtracted from their gross Score.

  • Example Scenario
  • In your example, you and your friend have different handicaps (7 and 14, respectively).
  • The course has a par of 75. Your friend, with a handicap of 7, is expected to play the round in 82 strokes (75 + 7).
  • You, with a handicap of 14, are expected to play the round in 89 strokes (75 + 14).
  • Your friend scored 82, which is right on his Expected Score. So, his net Score is 0 (82 – 7).
  • You scored 85, which is four strokes better than your expected Score. So, your net Score is -4 (85 – 89).
  • Determining the Winner

While your friend had a lower gross score, the handicap system considers your abilities. When handicaps are applied, your net Score of -4 beats your friend’s Score of 0.

Read more – How To Get A Golf Handicap

5 Popular Methods for Calculating Golf Handicaps

Let’s dive into different methods to calculate your golf handicap, catering to the varied preferences and tech-savvy options available:

Method 1: USGA Online Handicap Calculator:

Once you know your Handicap Index, you can use the USGA online Handicap Calculator.


Plug in your Handicap Index along with the Course Rating and Slope Rating for the specific course you’re playing. The calculator then spits out your Course Handicap.

However, the USGA provides a straightforward online tool for quick and accurate calculations.

Method 2: Golfing Apps:

Many golfing apps are designed to calculate your handicap and offer additional features.

  • The Grint:

Aside from handicap calculations, The Grint lets you see popular courses globally through satellite images. With The Grint, you can track your handicap data anywhere, anytime, so you are always aware of your playing level.

  • Other Apps:

Explore a variety of golf apps like Golfshot, Hole19, or Arccos. They not only calculate your handicap but may include GPS tracking, shot analytics, and social features.

Method 3: Traditional Handicap Calculations:

The old-school way involves manual calculations based on your scores.


  • Record your adjusted gross scores.
  • Apply Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) to adjust scores.
  • Calculate differentials for each round.
  • Use best differentials to compute the Handicap Index.

It Requires more effort and math skills but provides an in-depth understanding of the handicap calculation process.

Method 4: Club Handicap System:

Some golf clubs or courses may have handicap systems.


They might use a combination of traditional methods, club-specific adjustments, or even proprietary software. Club-specific systems cater to the unique aspects of the course and the club’s preferences.

Method 5: Handicap Tracking Websites

Websites like or independent handicap tracking sites.


Like golf apps, these platforms allow you to input your scores and provide a calculated handicap. It is Accessible from any device with internet connectivity. Provides a user-friendly experience.

Whether you prefer an online calculator, a mobile app, or traditional manual calculations, there is a method to suit every golfer. It’s essential to find what works for you so that you can focus on your game.

Read More: What Is A Good Handicap In Golf?


How do I calculate my daily golf handicap/ What’s my handicap in golf?

Suppose a golfer has a GA Handicap of 10.4 and is playing on a course with a Slope Rating of 120. The daily handicap can be calculated using GA Handicap × Slope Rating / 113. For a slope rating of 120, a GA Handicap player will have about 11.04.

Can I calculate my handicap?

Yes, you can calculate your handicap. Record scores, adjust with Equitable Stroke Control, calculate differentials, and use online tools or apps. Golf associations provide formulas for accurate self-calculation.

What is a high handicap in golf?

A high handicap in golf typically refers to a golfer with a handicap index above 18.5. It indicates a less experienced player or someone working to improve their game.

Is there an app to calculate golf handicaps?

Numerous apps, such as The Grint, Golfshot, and Hole19, calculate golf handicaps. They simplify score input, apply formulas, and provide golfers with accurate and updated handicap information.

What is the difference between index and handicap?

The handicap index measures golfing ability, calculated from recent scores. It is the number of strokes that a player receives, based on the course and tees played.

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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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