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Handicap System

No matter the level of play, professional or amateur, we should always respect the spirit behind the game of golf.  Each time we finish a round, we should have our scorecard signed by both the marker and the player as well as handing in for the purpose of computing our handicap.  A reminder is that your handicap is always ahead of your playing ability and you should not be disappointed if you cannot play your handicap for every single round.

USGA HANDICAP FORMULA

A USGA Handicap Index is a number that represents the potential ability of a player on a course of standard difficulty.  Potential ability is measured by a player's best scores, and is expressed as a number taken to one decimal place.

These scores are identified by calculating the handicap differential for each score.  The USGA Handicap Index is calculated by taking 96 percent of the average of the best handicap differentials, and applying Section 10-3 for golfers with two or more eligible tournament scores.

1. How to Determine Handicap Differentials

A handicap differential is computed from four elements: adjusted gross score; USGA Course Rating; USGA Slope Rating and 113 (the Slope Rating of a course of standard difficulty). To determine the handicap differential, subtract the USGA Course Rating from the adjusted gross score; multiply the difference by 113; then divide the resulting number by the USGA Slope Rating. Round the final number to the nearest tenth.

 Handicap Differential =

(Adjusted Gross Score - USGA Course Rating) x 113 / USGA Slope Rating

a. Plus Handicap Differential

When the adjusted gross score is higher than the USGA Course Rating, the handicap differential is a positive number.  Following is an example for determining a differential using an adjusted gross score of 95 made on a course with a USGA Course Rating of 71.5 and a USGA Slope Rating of 125:

Adjusted Gross Score - USGA Course Rating:     95 - 71.5 = 23.5

Difference x Standard Slope:                23.5 x 113 = 2655.5

Result / USGA Slope Rating:                 2655.5 / 125 = 21.244

Handicap Differential (rounded):               21.2

b. Minus Handicap Differential

When the adjusted gross score is lower than the USGA Course Rating, the handicap differential is a negative number.  Following is an example for determining a differential using an adjusted gross score of 69 made on a course with a USGA Course Rating of 71.5 and a USGA Slope Rating of 125:

Adjusted Gross Score - USGA Course Rating:    69 - 71.5 = -2.5

Difference x Standard Slope:                 -2.5 x 113 = -282.5

Result / USGA Slope Rating:                 -282.5 / 125 = -2.26

Handicap Differential (rounded):                -2.3

2. USGA Handicap Index Formula

The USGA Handicap Index Formula is based on the best handicap differentials in a player's scoring record.  If a player's scoring record contains 20 or more scores, then the best 10 handicap differentials of the most recent 20 scores are used to calculate his USGA Handicap Index.  The percentage of scores used in a scoring record decreases from the maximum of the best 50 percent as the number of scores in the scoring record decreases.  If the scoring record contains 9 or 10 scores, then only the best three scores (30 to 33 percent) in the scoring record will be used.  Thus, the accuracy of a player's Handicap Index is directly proportional to the number of acceptable scores he has posted.

A USGA Handicap Index shall not be issued to a player who has returned fewer than five acceptable scores.  The following procedure illustrates how to calculate a player's Handicap Index if the number of acceptable scores in the player's record is less than 20.

The procedure for calculating Handicap Indexes is as follows:

(i) Use the following table to determine the number of handicap differentials to use:

Number of  Differentials
Acceptable Scores To Be Used
5 or 6 Lowest 1
7 or 8 Lowest 2
9 or 10 Lowest 3
11 or 12 Lowest 4
13 or 14 Lowest 5
15 or 16 Lowest 6
17 Lowest 7
18 Lowest 8
19 Lowest 9
20 Lowest 10

(ii) Determine handicap differentials;

(iii) Average the handicap differentials being used;

(iv) Multiply the average by .96;

(v) Delete all numbers after the tenths digit. Do not round off to the            nearest tenth.

Example : 11 scores available.

Total of lowest 4 handicap differentials:     103.5

Average (103.5 divided by 4):     25.875

Multiply average by .96:      24.84

Delete digits after tenths;      24.8

USGA Handicap Index:      24.8


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