How to Determine Your Course Handicap
Written by Mike Cooney, Director of Golf.
What is a Course Handicap?
A “Course Handicap” is the USGA’s (United States Golf Association) mark that indicates the number of handicap strokes a player receives from a specific set of tees at the course being played to adjust the player’s scoring ability to the level of scratch or zero-handicap golf.
To determine your Course Handicap, you must first start with your Handicap Index, which is a number taken to one decimal place (like 10.4) that expresses your potential ability on a course of standard playing difficulty. For those who don’t get out and play too much, here is a quick scale to see how your Handicap Index aligns with your playing ability.
1-9: Single digit handicappers; These players get to play golf ONLY on days that end in “Y”.
10-19: Average score is 82 to 90; Most of these handicaps are legitimate. Be careful playing these guys. You may run into a few players that have an overstated handicap.
20-29: Average score is 91 to 100; These golfers are always trying to hit the ball farther. They need to spend 80% of their time practicing from 100 yards and in.
30 & above: Average score is 101 & higher; When asked if they are playing golf today, these golfers respond with, “I am going around the course today.”
You never actually play using your Handicap Index (it is more of a “raw” number). Instead, you must convert it to a whole number to get your Course Handicap by using the Slope Rating of the specific set of tees you are playing.
Calculating Your Course Handicap
A Course Handicap is determined by applying your Handicap Index to a Course Handicap Table or Course Handicap Formula, which is just simple math! Take your Handicap Index, multiply it by the Slope Rating of the tees played, then divide by 113 (this is the average Slope Rating). The answer will be your Course Handicap (round to the nearest whole number: .4 rounds down, .5 rounds up).
If you’d like, you can use a Course Handicap Calculator to help you determine your Course Handicap. You will plug in your current Handicap Index and the Slope Rating of the tees being played, and it will give you your Course Handicap.
Next time you’re playing golf on a new course, remember – all you need to figure out your Course Handicap is your Handicap Index and the Slope Rating. From there, just do some quick math!