Calculating Your Handicap and Why It's Important

One of the biggest thrills about playing the game of golf is improving each time you go out to the course. The adrenaline rush of breaking 90 or making one less bogey whenever you play 18 holes.

Unfortunately, some amateur golfers don’t have a strategy to help measure their success on the golf course. They don’t take the time to develop one of the most basic measurements in all of golf: an official handicap.

The handicap in golf is a number to determine a golfer’s playing ability. It’s rare that you’ll come across a foursome of golfers with all the same skill level, so the handicap helps level the playing field so it’s equal for all golfers. This makes it more appealing to play competitively among one another.

At the end of each round, the golfer subtracts their handicap to the final score to keep things fair. If you happen to be a scratch golfer, then your handicap is 0 and nothing is added to your score. The lowest number when scores are adjusted is the winner of the round.

So how is a handicap calculated? There are a number of factors that go into figuring out one’s handicap such as score, slope of a course, and course rating. You can manually figure out a handicap, but it’s best to go through a website that does the hard work for you.

If you belong to a country club, there is usually a computer in the clubhouse that allows you to keep track of your handicap by entering your score after the round. For those not lucky enough to belong to a club, you can register your handicap online through multiple sites. offers their own handicap tracker as well as Golf Digest. The beautiful part about using these two handicap trackers is that they’re both accessible through an app as well. If you can’t make it to a computer, you can easily punch in your score on your smartphones.

Handicaps take into account a golfer’s most recent rounds up to their last 20. The point of a handicap is to tell a golfer’s playing potential rather than their average score.

Not only can a handicap predict a golfer’s potential as well as keep the playing field equal, but it also measure progress. Make it a goal to lower your handicap with every round. The lower, the better. It’s always important for amateur golfers to set goals from themselves and playing to lower a handicap is the perfect goal to set.

Once someone finds out you golf, they usually follow up with the infamous, “What’s your handicap” question. Start 2016 off right by building a handicap for yourself and working to keep it low. It’s never too late to figure out your playing potential.