A guide to your handicap

A guide to your handicap

Handicaps are what most golfers use to rank themselves, their skill, and their competitors. Most handicaps refer to the United States Golf Association handicap system. More than just a number, what are the components that make up a handicap? How can you improve your handicap? What are the common misconceptions about handicaps? We’ve put together a simple guide to answer all your questions.

Defining a Handicap Index

A USGA Handicap Index is calculated by a local golf club based on the golfer's most recent scores, using at least five 18-hole scores and no more than 20 scores.

The Handicap Formula = Average Score Golfer Has Achieved (adjusted for the difficulty of the course) X 0.96

Golfers can submit their scores at the end of each round to their home course or golf tracking apps. There’s two options to determine your handicap, you can go the traditional or online route. 


Having an official handicap through USGA is best for golfers who intended on competing in tournaments. This is the easiest easy to get an official handicap in the traditional format. This handicap typically allows you to play in local club events, state golf association events, and USGA events


With today's fast paced technology, there are a number of websites and apps that can help calculate your handicap. Most apps are free of charge for a small fee for users. Most of the online handicap services also offer other features that include fast access, stat tracking, analytics, and GPS course services. 

Misconceptions About the Handicap Index

One of the most common misconceptions about handicaps is that the USGA calculates their handicap index. Although the USGA is the standard and provides validation to one's handicap, they do not calculate it. Instead, the USGA maintains the handicap Index calculation, it’s calculated by local golf associations. The USGA is just there to license and provide support to local golf associations.

How To Lower Your Handicap 

Here are some valuable tips to help lower your handicap over the span of this next golf season

  1. Improve Your Short Game

Improving your short game is the best place to take off strokes from your handicap. Take time to work on your chipping and putting, just as much as you work on your long drives. Feel free to experiment with different shots and approaches that will help broaden your range on the course.  For more short game tips, check out Megan Padua Buzza’s putting tips and Jaime Jacob’s chipping tips on our IGTV. 


2. Go To The Range

The range and the compilation of practice swings is what makes up your scores on the course. The time and work you put in on the range will be a direct reflection to your consistency and skills on the course.

PRO TIP - Take shots on the range as if you’re playing a real round. 


3. Check Your Equipment

It’s always worth the investment and time to take care of your equipment. Take the time to find the grips that are tailored towards your golfing style. Also, spend the time taking care and cleaning your equipment. Clean out the grooves on your clubs and replace any damaged equipment. 

Your handicap does not define you but is a great way to track your progress. For more tips to improve your Handicap check out our on-course and off-course instructional series.