What Is a High Handicap Golfer?

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What Is a High Handicap Golfer?

A high-handicap golfer typically has a handicap between 19 and 29. This signals a developing skill level. It results in scores around 90 to 100.

Players with a low handicap are better.

Here, I will explain in more detail. This guide presents different high-handicap categories, explaining why they matter in a way that’s easy to understand.

What Is Considered A High Handicap In Golf?

When a golfer has a handicap between 19 and 29, it signifies that their skill level is developing. In other words, a golf round usually scores between 90 to 100.

However, high handicappers aim to achieve a score below 100 consistently. This handicap category is quite common. 

High handicappers aim to break the 100 barrier, a milestone in their golf progress. It’s a wide classification that includes many golfers. This indicates a diverse range of skill levels within this handicap range.

However, this score indicates a golfer struggling with their swing and needs to work on it.

In general, a higher handicap indicates a less proficient player. High handicaps are common, falling above 18 and up to 54. About 25% of male and 81% of female golfers fall into this category.

Typical Characteristics of High Handicappers

Golfers with high handicaps are building the foundation of their game. This involves developing skills in various aspects, such as course management. You also work on ball flight, contact, form, and swing mechanics.

Usually, they are typically a beginner and need more chances for effective practice.

Besides, control is a challenge for high-handicap golfers. They often need help with consistent ball striking and limited distance control. This lack of control can manifest itself in long-shot difficulties. It can also cause frequent mishits and poor accuracy.

High Handicap: Catagories

A golf handicap represents the difference between the total par for a golf course. It also shows the average number of strokes a golfer takes over about ten games. The average for that course indicates how many strokes were played.

High handicaps are divided into three subcategories

Lower-High Handicap (19-29):

This category includes golfers shooting in the low 90s to low 100s. They occasionally dip into the high 80s. These players aim to break the 100 barrier consistently consistently.

Their main focus is improving their technique. Besides the long game, they also focus on the short game. Around the greens, most players try to lose strokes. By improving accuracy and putting more, they hope to improve their game.

Mid-High Handicap (30-40):

Golfers in this range typically score between 100 and 110. Mid-high handicap players aim to break 90 consistently. They want to bring their handicap down into the 20s. Those with higher-end handicaps in the 30s should focus on breaking 110 consistently.

They should also focus on improving their short game, as they often struggle to score well on par 3s. Finally, they should practice chipping and bunker shots to improve their score.

Higher-High Handicap (41-54):

This category includes golfers with handicaps ranging from 41 to 54. Their rounds are usually from 113 to the high 120s. Players in this category aim to minimize triple bogeys and set a goal of less than 120 strokes per round.

With a handicap in the 40s, golfers should aim for a consistent score of 110. If your handicap is 45 or higher, you should avoid triple bogeys and score less than 120 each round.

High Handicaps: How Do They Perform?

Golfers with high handicaps face challenges across the course. They grapple with issues from the tee to the green. To improve performance, they can focus on essential aspects:

  • Fairways In Regulation (F.I.R.):

High handicappers often need help with lower fairways in the regulation ratio. Common issues stem from incorrect setup, aim, or overpowering swings. It is advisable to respect the driver and swing with ease. Maintain focus and consider alternative clubs off the tee for better results.

  • Consistency in Swing:

Inconsistency in the golf swing is common for high handicaps. Developing a more repeatable and controlled swing helps achieve better results. It also reduces mishits.

  • Greens In Regulation (G.I.R.):

They typically face challenges in achieving green regulations. Missing greens and struggling to recover contribute to dropped shots. Advice for improvement includes aiming for safer areas on the green. It emphasizes consistent play over attacking every flag.

  • Course Management:

High handicaps may struggle with effective course management. A suboptimal decision may result in a challenging situation. To perform well, you must learn to assess risks, choose appropriate clubs, and navigate the course strategically.

  • Up and Downs:

High handicappers find the short game challenging. Many shots are lost due to errors around the green. Prioritizing improvement in chipping skills over driving distance enhances confidence. Also, it helps you stick shots close to the green area.

  • Fitness and Flexibility:

Physical fitness and flexibility play a role in golf performance. High handicaps may benefit from exercises to improve strength and flexibility. These exercises aid in better body control during the swing. 

  • Putts Per Round:

High handicaps often encounter difficulties reading lines and speed on the green. Weak putting can turn routine putts into costly double or triple bogeys.

Strengthening the putting game becomes pivotal for shaving strokes off the overall score. It highlights the importance of precision and consistency.

High Handicap Players’ Equipment

Golfers with high handicaps must select the appropriate equipment to improve their game. They are-

golf equipement
  • Drivers:

It’s recommended for high handicappers to opt for drivers with a loft of at least 10.5 degrees. This higher loft helps get the ball airborne. It’s particularly beneficial for those still mastering the art of striking the golf ball. Fitting the driver with a graphite shaft adds flexibility during the backswing.

  • Irons:

High handicaps benefit from using oversized irons and wedges. These clubs have a larger sweet spot, allowing for more forgiveness on off-center strikes.

An enhanced center of gravity provides better loft, carry, and distance when using irons. A graphite shaft with an older or ladies’ flex is better if you swing slowly.

  • Balls:

When shopping for golf balls, they should prioritize price, aiming to lose as few balls as possible. Even though high-quality balls are available, players are still refining their skills. Without the added pressure of losing expensive equipment, you can focus more on skill development.

  • Wedges:

High handicappers should use wedges that help them go through the surface and under the ball. It reduces mishits and improves performance around the green. Exploring options for the best wedges tailored for high handicappers can further enhance a player’s short game.

  • Putters:

High-handicap players are often recommended mallet putters. With an enhanced center of gravity, they deliver consistent performance. High-handicapping putters can help improve accuracy significantly.

  • Hybrids:

They can benefit from incorporating hybrids into their set. Hybrids are easier to hit than traditional long irons. This is because they offer forgiveness and versatility. They can assist in improving long-distance shots and overall playability.

  • Golf Bag:

Investing in a lightweight and easy-to-carry golf bag is essential for high handicappers. As a result, players can concentrate on their game without unnecessary distractions during a round.

How Can A High Golf Handicapper Improve?

High handicappers aiming to improve should focus on forgiving clubs. With these clubs, you can hit off-center drives and iron shots. They can help you make less precise clubface angles, improving your game.

However, clubs marketed as “forgiving” are designed to accommodate off-center hits. They also enable flat iron shots and tolerate less precise clubface angles. As players progress through their golf journey, forgiveness enhances contact and control.

Is it Possible For Golfers to Move From High to Low Handicaps? 

Certainly, it is possible. To move from a high to a low handicap in golf, you need consistent practice. Focus on improving weaknesses. Control the distance and speed of your first putt to make your second putt easier.

In most cases, moving from a high handicap to a low handicap takes dedicated practice. Regular play helps identify areas needing improvement, fostering technique and equipment consistency.

Reducing three-putts significantly impacts handicaps. Precision in controlling the first putt sets up more manageable second putts. With regular play and targeted practice, these aspects gradually lower the handicap.

Is a High Handicap Good or Bad?

High handicaps are generally regarded as bad in golf. A handicap measures a golfer’s ability. It’s based on their performance on a particular course. The lower the handicap, the better the golfer. High handicaps, on the other hand, suggest less skill or inconsistent play.

A high handicap is not necessarily “bad.” It indicates that a golfer may still be developing their skills. Many golfers start with high handicaps. They work to lower them over time through practice, lessons, and experience on the course.


 How is a golf handicap calculated?

Golfers determine a handicap based on their recent scores. The formula considers the adjusted gross score. It also considers the course rating and slope rating of the courses played.
Or use our handicap calculator.

What clubs are recommended for high handicappers?

High handicappers benefit from clubs that provide forgiveness. These include a driver with a higher loft. Also, cavity-backed or perimeter-weighted irons. Plus, versatile wedges and a mallet putter for ease of use.

How does course management affect high handicappers?

Course management is crucial for high handicappers. Choosing the right shot and club and assessing risk is crucial. It helps minimize mistakes and navigate the course effectively.

Can a high handicapper participate in competitive golf?

Absolutely. In golf, players with all handicaps can play in tournaments and events. These clubs specifically fit players with higher handicaps.

Final Say

A high-handicap golfer is typically new to the sport or has not yet reached an intermediate proficiency level. Their scores are usually over 100 for 18 holes, reflecting their higher strokes above par.

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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.