In golf players of different skill levels can compete against each other fairly using the United States Golf Association (USGA) handicap system. Handicaps, officially called the Handicap Index by the USGA, are used to level the playing field for golfers of different skill levels.

5 Things to Know

  1. The handicap index is based off your 8 best scores out of the past 20.
  2. Slope rating, course rating, and par are used to determine your playing handicap, allowing players to compete from different tees more easily.
  3. The system accounts for abnormal playing conditions, limits extreme upward movement of a handicap index, and reduces a handicap Index when an exceptional score is posted.
  4. The maximum hole score for handicap purposes is limited to net double bogey (Par + 2 + any handicap strokes you receive.)
  5. Your handicap index will update the day after you post a score. On days you don't submit a score, no update will take place.

How to Get a Handicap Index

In order to establish and maintain a Handicap Index, a player must be a member of an authorized golf club. Most golf courses, public and private, are authorized – so if there is a course you play often, reach out to them and they can likely set you up on the spot. You can also search for an authorized golf club by clicking here. Additionally, your Allied Golf Association can recommend clubs in your area. To find your local AGA, search here.

What is the difference between a course handicap and a playing Handicap?

A Course Handicap represents the number of strokes needed to play to par of the tees being played. This is the number used to adjust hole scores for net double bogey or net par.

A Playing Handicap is the actual number of strokes you receive or give during a round and is the number used for the purposes of the game or competition. This number is often the same as a Course Handicap, however, if a handicap allowance is applied, if the format is match play, or if players are competing from tees with different pars, it may be different.

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