What Is A Golf Handicap For A Beginner? The Best Guide

Initially, the game of golf did seem like a fun sport to indulge in regularly but just when you started learning more and more about the game, the number of questions in your head starting coming up like lava flowing from an active volcano, right?

What is the purpose of so many golf rules? What is a golf handicap for a beginner? What does the word handicap even mean? And why is it so important?

Give your mind some rest and read through what I have written to better understand the whole concept of a golf handicap and what passionate golfers need to know about it.

What is a golf handicap for a beginner

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What is a golf handicap?

It is one of the most awesome things about golf, that’s what a golf handicap is. Well, that and the estimated measurement of a player’s golfing ability.

The whole concept of “what is a golf handicap for a beginner” is established so that golfers both beginners and professionals can play golf from a level playing field. What this means is that if a weak player is playing with a golfing expert, at the end of the game, both their net scores will be solely based on their individual playing ability.

How Does The Golf Handicap System Work?

How this works is very simple; the weaker player gets the opportunity to reduce a stroke off certain holes. Once a round is completed, all the golfers with different handicaps calculate their scores and reduce the number of strokes they were allowed to scratch out.

So the end result is a net score that is solely based on their own handicap.

So tomorrow even if you play a game with Tiger Woods, your net score will not be based on how much his game was better than yours. But, instead, how well both of you play at your own respective skill levels. Now that’s the true meaning of playing fair!

Why you should know what your golf handicap is?

The question should have been, why shouldn’t you know what your golf handicap is? Doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or a professional, knowing your handicap is like knowing the letters of the English language. Once you know the letters, you can form words and learn the language, right? It’s the same with a golf handicap.

Once you know what your golf handicap is, you can measure your progress in order to get better at the game. A golf handicap allows you to see how much you’re improving and also how and in what areas you can get even better. This is great for beginners, isn’t it?

What is a golf handicap for a beginner

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How is a golf handicap calculated?

To figure out what is a handicap for a beginner, one must first know that the standard calculation depends on the golfer’s most recent rounds. This ensures that your handicap is always updated. As your golfing skill and ability increases or decreases, your handicap also waves accordingly.

In countries like United States, Australia, and Mexico, a handicap is measured using supplementary variables, such as slope rating and course rating.

These two additional variables are used to measure a handicap differential, which further helps in calculating the golfer’s handicap. It may sound a bit too complex but it really isn’t. I’ve explained it in a little more detail below.

What is a golf handicap for a beginner

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Golfers with a handicap of less than 30 (known as scratch and bogey golfers)

Scratch golfers have a handicap of 0 while bogey golfers have a handicap in the twenties. Having a minus handicap is also possible, they are called plus handicaps.

Golfers with a minus handicap add their net score with the plus handicap. And as far as professional players are concerned, they don’t feel the need to use the handicap system. They play off scratch.

The USGA golf handicap system

Countries like United States, Australia, and Mexico follow the USGA golf handicap system. So if you’re in any one of these countries asking the question, what is a golf handicap, this is where you should be looking for the answer. Figuring out how a handicap is calculated based on the USGA golf handicap system is something that gets a tad complicated.

So it’s better that we don’t get into that aspect. All that we should and need to know is that the formula works; just how it works is not important.

It was only after the 1980s that additional variables like slope rating and course rating became a part of the equation. This was mainly done to level the playing field. Before that, expert golfers were at a huge disadvantage due to the previous methods. So something had to give.

Science of Golf: The USGA Handicap System

The Meaning ofCourse Rating and Slope Ratingin the USGA Golf Handicap System

The number of strokes that a scratch golfer would take to complete a single round on a certain turf is the course rating. If a USGA turf is equipped with a course rating of 74, then an average scratch golfer’s scores on such a turf would be 74 strokes.

On the other hand, slope rating is for bogey golfers. It is a number assigned to a turf to express the difficulty predicted for bogey golfers. Turfs can have a slope rating starting from 55 and go up till 155. The more the rating, the tougher it is to play on that particular turf.

The Meaning of Gross Score in the USGA Golf Handicap System

The number of shots allowed after a golfer eliminates the maximum allowed strokes on a few specific holes around the turf is the gross score. And the number of strokes that a golfer can eliminate while playing a single round is measured using equitable stroke control.

The Meaning of Equitable Stroke Controls in the USGA Golf Handicap System

Equitable stroke control is a number assigned to golfers playing on a USGA turf that hands over the maximum number of shots they can reduce on certain holes during a single round of golf. The number varies based on different golfer handicaps. Most courses are supplied with a chart which states the number given to you based on your current handicap.

What is a golf handicap for a beginner?

Here’s How to Calculate Your Handicap:

What is a golf handicap for a beginner

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  • In order to calculate a handicap differential, deduct your course rating from your gross score.
  • The number that you get should then be multiplied by 113, which is the average slope rating.
  • ​The next figure that you obtain needs to be divided by your course’s slope rating in order to get the handicap differential. Then round this figure to the nearest tenth.
  • ​As mentioned above, your course will be supplied with a chart that also states the slope rating.
  • The least number of handicap differentials that you can configure is 5 while the maximum number is 20.

Now Comes the Real Deal

What is a golf handicap for a beginner

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  • Once you have your handicap differentials, you can configure your handicap index.
  • If you are a member of a golf club that follows the USGA golf handicap system, which means that if you’re a member of a golf club anywhere in the United States, Australia, or Mexico, then your official handicap index will be issued to you.
  • Course handicaps are used to deduct strokes from your gross scores, which is excellent for beginners. This helps them in feeling more confident and less intimidated when they’re playing a round of golf with professional golfers.

Golf Tips : How to Calculate Your Golf Handicap?

You’ve finally figured it out

I hope that you finally have the answer to the big question, “what is a golf handicap for a beginner?”

While it’s important to know the basics of the game of golf, it is also equally essential to understand that golf is a fun game. Your goal should also be to enjoy yourself, apart from you know, taking complete advantage of now knowing how to configure handicap index as well as course handicap.

Anyway, forget about these things for a while and simply just go out on that course and have some fun! Once you’re having fun at the course, everything else will take its natural “course”. That’s good word play, isn’t it?

When was the last time you checked your handicap? Did knowing your correct handicap change anything for you?

Please let me know in the comments section below. I would love to hear your thoughts about the importance of a golf handicap.

You might also like:


1. www.golfadvisor.com

2. www.golf-info-guide.com

3. www.blog.golfnow.com

Golfer Hill

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