What Is A Good Handicap In Golf?

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A good handicap is often in the single digits (1 to 9), indicating consistent and skilled play. But, what’s deemed “good” can vary based on individual perspectives.

The USGA averages are 14 for men and 28 for women, while beginners may start with higher averages. It’s recommended to consider 28 as the ideal number for male golfers and 36 for females.

What Is a Golf Handicap?

A golf handicap is a number that shows a player’s skill level. It helps golfers of different abilities compete. It measures how well a player shoots compared to the golf course’s difficulty.

Golfers with lower handicaps are better players. If you are a new or less skilled player, your handicap will increase.

For example, a player with a handicap of 10 is generally better than someone with a handicap of 20. With the handicap system, people of all skill levels can enjoy golf together. , it will level the playing field.

What is a Good Handicap in Golf?

A good handicap is relative and depends on the individual’s skill level and goals. Golfers with single-digit handicaps (1 to 9) are often considered good. It reflects consistent and skilled play.

Some may consider a handicap of 15 reasonable, while others may consider 0 reasonable. It depends on what’s considered “good.”

According to the USGA, the average handicap index is 14 for men and 28 for women. But, for beginners, the average is higher, around 15.2 for men and 31.2 for women. Many new golfers do not have an official handicap so these averages might be lower.

Are There Any Good Handicap Ranges for Golf?

Yes! The USGA provides a guideline for suitable golf handicap ranges based on skill levels:

  • Advanced Golfers (Handicap < 10):
  •  On a par-72 golf course, these golfers shoot 70s or lower. They possess skills and proficiency in various aspects of the game.
  • Intermediate golfers (Handicap 10-29):
  • Most golfers who fall within this range score in the 80s or 90s. They have a solid foundation in golf skills but may still be refining their game.
  • Beginner Golfers (Handicap Index +29):
  • There is an average score of more than 100 for golfers in this category. They are still developing their skills and gaining experience on the golf course.

A handicap range can motivate golfers, allowing them to set realistic goals. For instance, if players shoot around 90 for 18-hole scores, their handicap would likely hover around 18 on a par-72 golf course. In other words, they are intermediate golfers trying to improve their game.

Is it Necessary to Have Golf Handicaps?

What Is A Good Handicap In Golf?

The United States Golf Association (USGA) manages and regulates golf handicaps for several purposes. You can get a golf handicap from different sources. A golf handicap is necessary for the following reasons:

  • As a standardized measure of skill, handicaps help golfers set goals.
  • Inclusive play is promoted as players of varying skills can enjoy golf together.
  • Handicaps level the playing field in match-play formats, ensuring fairness.
  • Knowing one’s handicap encourages improvement and consistency in performance.
  • Handicaps determine tournament qualification, adding competition.
  • With handicap ratings, fair adjustments can be made based on the difficulty of the courses.
  • Maintaining standards through handicaps contributes to game adequacy.

How To Calculate Golf Handicap?

The process of calculating a golf handicap involves several steps. Here is a step-by-step guide to calculating your golf handicap or you can use our handicap calculator :

Step 1: Keep track of your strokes:

Record all your swings and putts during at least five golf games with 18 holes each. Check with the pro shop on the course pars.

Step 2: Calculate Your Score:

Add up all your swings and putts to get your total score for each game. Determine your handicap by subtracting your total strokes from the course par.

Step 3: Handicap Type:

Your handicap can be positive, negative, or zero (equal to par). Most golfers have a positive handicap. In each game, the player with the lowest total score for a hole wins.

Step 4: Calculation of handicaps:

Total your strokes from recorded games (or use maximums for holes with limits). Subtract your average total from the course rating available at the pro shop. Multiply the result by 113. This constant number is part of the handicap formula.

Step 5: Getting results:

A golf handicap is called a handicap index. It is the number people ask about when asking about your handicap.

Achieving a negative handicap usually requires years of practice and skill development. Calculate your handicap using no more than 20 games, as recommended.

This guide will help you calculate your golf handicap and track your progress.

What is a Scratch Golfer?


A scratch golfer is a golfer who has a golf handicap of zero and shoots the same score as the course rating or better.

It indicates the ability to shoot scores very close, even to par. If a golfer does not have a zero handicap, they are called a “plus” handicap.

For example, a +1 handicap means shooting one stroke better than a scratch golfer. On the PGA Tour, professional golfers can have handicaps of +8. This indicates exceptional skill.

Achieving a scratch handicap requires years of practice and dedication. Even a single-digit handicap is a notable accomplishment. For instance, basketball player Steph Curry has a handicap better than scratch at +1.6.

Is It Bad To Have A Golf Handicap?

Having a handicap in golf is not bad at all; in fact, it’s normal and accepted. Handicaps are a fundamental part of the game. They provide a standardized measure of golfer skill level.

These rules aim to: – Promote fair competition – Encourage improvement – Make the game a more inclusive environment.

However, high handicaps indicate below-average performance. Some may perceive them as a “bad” handicap. In such cases, it might impact competition fairness in specific settings. 

How to Lower Your Golf Handicap?


Lowering your golf handicap requires practice, focused improvement, and strategic approaches. Here are some tips to reduce your golf handicap:

  • Regular, purposeful practice is crucial. Work on all aspects of your game, including driving, iron play, chipping, and putting.
  • Analyze your past rounds or consult a golf professional to determine your weaknesses.
  • Strokes occur within 100 yards of the green. You can improve your scores by improving your short game. This includes chipping and putting.
  • Develop a strategic approach to each hole. Consider your strengths and weaknesses and play to them. Avoid unnecessary risks and focus on consistent, controlled shots.
  • Flexible and fit golf swings are more fluid and controlled. Regular exercise, including stretching, can enhance your game.
  • Work on your mental resilience and focus. Stay positive, manage stress, and approach each shot with confidence.
  • Understand when to take risks and when to play. Make intelligent decisions on the course to avoid unnecessary penalties.

Read More: What Is My Handicap If Shoot 75/80/85/90/95/100


What is a decent golf handicap?

A decent golf handicap, focusing on those who maintain one, is generally around 27 or lower. Approximately 50% or more break 100. However, for all golfers, including those without a handicap, less than 25% achieve scores below 100.

What is a beginner’s golf handicap?

A beginner golf handicap can vary depending on skill level and experience. Generally, a beginner golfer may start with a handicap index of 28 to 36 or higher. Usually, players struggle to shoot scores below 100 if they are still developing their skills.

What Is A VERY GOOD Handicap?

A VERY GOOD handicap in golf is considered to be in the range of 5-10.

What is considered to be an EXCEPTIONAL handicap?

An EXCEPTIONAL handicap is characterized by players who have handicaps below 5, with some even achieving a scratch handicap of 0.

What Is the Maximum Handicap?

A maximum handicap of 36.4 is set for men 40.,4 for women in 18-hole events, and 18.2 for men and 20.2 for women in 9-hole events. You must check specific competition regulations with clubs and events.

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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.