What is a Golf Handicap?

Players often ask, what is a golf handicap and why do I need one? Some players think that, since they only play golf a couple of times a year, or only play 9 holes instead of 18, that a handicap isn't relevant to them.  But it is!

So what is a handicap, really?

A handicap is an indication of a player's ability. A player actually has two handicaps: her handicap index, and her course handicap. A specific formula is used to compute a player's handicap index from her score history, by factoring in both scores and the difficulty of the courses played.  

A player's handicap index is used to calculate her course handicap, the number of strokes above par she receives, depending on the difficulty of the particular course she is playing. Your course handicap will be higher on a more difficult course and lower on an easier course.  

Why would you want a handicap?  

A handicap allows players of different ability levels to compete with each other. Using handicaps helps to even the playing field, making the game more fun. 

You need a handicap index to participate in competitive golf events and certain EWGA chapter golf leagues. The change in your handicap index also gives you a way to track your improvement throughout the golf season.

For more information:   Handicapping Info Sheet