What Is The Average Golf Handicap?

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What Is Average Golf Handicap

According to the USGA, the average American golfer has a handicap between 14 and 16. It provides a glimpse into the skill level of golfers.

Not all golfers use a handicap system, especially those who consistently score high. As a result, the reported average might seem lower than it is.

Average handicaps vary greatly based on factors such as age, experience, and level of competition.

For many golfers, maintaining a low handicap is a measure of proficiency and success. Also, handicap systems allow golfers to compare their results with others.

What Is The Average Golf Handicap?

The United States Golf Association (USGA), the governing body for golf in the United States, provides further insight into the average American golfer. According to the USGA, the average handicap for American golfers stands just over 14.

This metric is a crucial indicator of a player’s skill level, reflecting how many strokes they score above or below par. In 18 holes, an average golfer with a handicap of 14 is likely to shoot around 14 strokes over par, accounting for variations in course difficulty.

When assessing the average golf score for all golfers, it’s crucial to consider the disparities between those with and without handicaps.

For a standard 18-hole round, the average golfer, including those using handicap systems and those who don’t, shoots over 100.

The landscape shifts when focusing on golfers who maintain a handicap. In this subgroup, the average score hovers around 90 for 18 holes.

In other words, handicapped amateur golfers play at the “bogey” golf level.

In golf terminology, a “bogey” represents a score of one over par for a hole. An average golfer is commendable for consistently achieving this across 18 holes.

It’s essential to acknowledge that not all golfers use a handicap system. Particularly, those consistently scoring higher may opt out of the handicap system. This decision can skew the reported average score of 90 for disabled golfers.

Golfers with higher scores may be excluded from the handicap system. As a result, the reported average appears lower than the actual average.

Average Golf Handicap For Male and Female

USGA average golf scores by gender and handicap range provide a nuanced view of male and female golfers. Males typically score higher than females, but this gap has narrowed in recent years. 

Average Male Golf Handicap

Recent USGA data underscores that 50.5% of male golfers maintain a handicap of less than 14. This statistic implies that over half of male golfers. Players who track their handicaps perform higher than the average golfer.

Within this demographic, the most common handicap range falls between 10 and 15.9, constituting 32% of the male golfer population. Male golfers consistently play at a moderate skill level based on this range.

Average Women’s Golf Handicap

In contrast, the data reveals that only 8.5% of female golfers boast a handicap below 14. This finding suggests that nearly 90% of female golfers with a handicap score higher than the average golfer.

Regarding the handicap range, female golfers average 23-31.9, making up over 34% of all female players. This broader range indicates a more diverse skill set among female golfers.

Average Golf Scores

Studies on average golf scores show that adult male golfers who play regularly tend to score between 93 and 96. On the other hand, their female counterparts average about 108.

However, these figures come with a caveat: various factors can influence individual scores. As golfers age, scoring averages stabilize, with male players aged 20-30 averaging around 90.

Subsequent age groups maintain consistent scores of approximately 91.5 per round. The average score increases notably by about 94 when players reach 70, indicating that age might affect performance.

Many average scores are influenced by beginners, including adults learning the game and juniors under 20. According to studies, beginner golfers’ scores range from 89 to 180, reflecting the learning curve associated with the sport.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of golfers has increased substantially due to the surge of beginner golfers. An average of 3.1 million new golfers are expected to hit the course in 2020 and 2021, underlining the evolving landscape of golf.

The New World Handicap System ( WHS)

Formerly, each place had its way, but the WHS standardized it. It replaced 6 handicap systems across various nations that lacked consistency and unity.

Under WHS, the Handicap Index, calculated by first averaging the best 8 Score differentials in the last 20 rounds, gauges a player’s ability. It then considers course difficulty, resulting in a Course Handicap. Though often the same, Course Handicap can be higher based on where you play.

A unified and more inclusive handicap system was the goal of the WHS. Its vision was clear:

  • Fair and Equal Basis:

The WHS sought to enable golfers of diverse abilities to play. It will be a fair and equal competition regardless of the format or location.

  • Easy Implementation:

Simplicity was a key goal – the system aimed to be easy to understand and implement without compromising accuracy. It was a crucial aspect to encourage widespread adoption.

  • Meeting Varied Needs:

Globally, the WHS aimed to meet golfers’ needs and expectations. It aimed to be adaptable, catering to diverse golfing cultures.

Now, let’s look at the average handicaps. Gemma Hunter from England Golf reported that, as of April 2022, the average WHS index for men is 17.1, and for women, it’s 27.2.

Notably, not many reach the maximum 54 Handicap Index; only 2,250 out of 400,000 My England Golf app users have it. The WHS brings standardization, ensuring a fair playing field for golfers worldwide.

Golf Handicap Ranges: What Are They?

Determining what constitutes a good golf handicap involves recognizing different skill levels. The USGA provides a broader perspective, categorizing golfers based on their skill and performance archetype:

  1. Advanced Golfers (Handicap < 10):

These golfers consistently score in the 70s or lower on a par-72 golf course. They showcase a high level of proficiency and accuracy in their game.

  1. Intermediate Golfers (Handicap 10 – 29):

These golfers fall into the intermediate category and maintain a handicap between 10 and 29. They consistently score in the 80s or 90s, showcasing a solid yet evolving skill level.

  1. Beginner Golfers (Handicap Index > 29):

Golfers in the beginner category carry a handicap index of +29. Their typical scores often exceed 100, indicating a novice level of play.

However, opting for a handicap range rather than a fixed average can be motivating. It allows golfers to set achievable goals within their skill level. For instance, aiming for the lower end of the range provides a tangible target for improvement.

This range approach also aligns more closely with the reality observed at local courses. With a nuanced perspective on what is considered a good handicap, it feels like diverse skill levels and abilities.

For example, if someone shoots 90 on an 18-hole course, their handicap would be around 18 on a par-72. It helps golfers gauge their performance relative to the handicap system and understand their skill level.

What Is A Good Golf Score?

The definition of a “good” golf score is subjective. A good golf score depends on the player’s skill level, the difficulty of the course, and prevailing weather conditions.

For a regular weekend golfer, a good score feels like a win for them. It might not be the same as what a pro considers a good round. Everyone’s different.

Keeping a handicap is a smart move. It helps you see how your recent round compares to your past ones. Staying close to your handicap for a specific course is usually seen as doing well. It’s like a measure of your consistency and success.

Remember, handicaps don’t look at every round you play. They pick the best 8 out of the last 20. So, reviewing your handicap in one game doesn’t mess it up. It’s more about staying steady over time and getting better.

How To Get a Golf Handicap

In the past, obtaining an official golf handicap was a privilege reserved for club members only. Without an official handicap, casual golfers were left on the sidelines. However, recent times have ushered in a significant transformation in this tradition.

How To Get a Golf Handicap

The United States Golf Association (USGA) changed handicapped accessibility by extending them to casual golfers.

This concept has been embraced in the United States but is relatively new elsewhere. For example, the United Kingdom only established a formal system two years ago.

Introducing these new systems has democratized the acquisition of a golf handicap. Casual golfers, who were previously excluded, can now obtain an official handicap.

With the end of traditional club membership requirements, golf handicaps are now more accessible. Here’s how you can get a golf handicap:

  • Find organizations or online platforms that offer handicap services. Many countries now have official bodies providing this service.
  • Create an account with the chosen handicap service provider. It often involves providing some personal information and creating a profile.
  • Start submitting your golf scores to the handicap service. The number of scores required may vary, but usually, it’s based on your most recent rounds.
  • The system will calculate your Handicap Index based on the submitted scores. It typically considers the best scores from your last 20 rounds.
  • The Handicap Index is then used to calculate your Course Handicap for specific courses you play. It adjusts your handicap according to course difficulty.
  • Stay updated on your handicap by participating in recognized golf rounds.
  • Once you have your handicap, it can be used for fair play in competitions. It allows golfers of different skill levels to compete on an even playing field.

Remember, the process might slightly differ based on the handicap system or organization you choose. In the modern, more inclusive era, these steps guide obtaining a golf handicap.

The New Handicap Parameters

With the new guidelines, handicap allocations have undergone significant changes. It was 20 years ago that maximum handicaps were rigidly set:

Handicap Parameters20 Years AgoCurrent (Most Countries)Increase (%)
Male Golfers2836<30
Female Golfers3654 (except USGA 40)50 (USGA >11)
Junior Golfers455420

These changes signify a more inclusive approach, encouraging golfers to embrace and understand their handicap early in their golfing journey. The increased limits provide a fair representation of playing levels, fostering enjoyment and progression in the game.

However, the rationale behind these changes was to introduce golfers to the concept of a golf handicap sooner. The governing bodies added a more realistic handicap figure. 

By seeing a tangible decrease in handicaps over time, players are more likely to enjoy the game.

What Is A Scratch Golfer?

A scratch golfer is a term used in the golfing world to describe a player who has a handicap index of zero. If a golfer has a handicap index of zero, they usually shoot even par or better on the course.

In other words, a scratch golfer’s average score is at the level of the course’s par. They consistently shoot scores that match or beat par on golf courses. The game requires skill in all aspects, including driving, iron play, chipping, and putting.


What is an acceptable golf handicap?

An acceptable golf handicap varies. But among those who maintain one, over 50% typically break 100 or hold a handicap of 27 or lower.

What is a perfect handicap in golf?

In golf, the USGA designates the ideal handicap index limit as 36.4 for men and 40.4 for women in an 18-hole course.

For a 9-hole system, the recommended maximum is 18.2 for men and 20.2 for women.

What is a beginner golf handicap?

For beginner golfers, an average handicap often exceeds 30. Achieving a commendable score involves breaking 90 finishing 18 strokes over par.

Can I calculate my handicap?

You can calculate your handicap using the World Handicap System (WHS) guidelines.

WHS considers the best 8 out of your last 20 scores for the analysis.

What does 0 handicap mean in golf?

A golf handicap of 0 is often referred to as being a “scratch golfer

It indicates that the player consistently completes the course or individual holes at par, showcasing high skill and proficiency. 

what percentage of golfers are 5 handicap?

According to the statistics 9.77% of golfers are 5 handicap or roughly 170,000-plus people

what is the average golf handicap?

The average handicap index for women is around 28 & for men is 13.0-13.9,

What Is A Scratch Golfer?

A scratch golfer is a term used in the golfing world to describe a player who has a handicap index of zero.

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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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