How to Calculate a Golf Handicap?

How do I calculate my golf handicap? We get this question all the time. Or in many cases we find that some of our members do have misconceptions about the methodology. So here it is in very simple terms: How to calculate your Handicap Index?

What is a Golf Handicap Index?

The golf handicap has the objective of showing the potential ability of a golf player (and not the average ability like many believe). I am not going to go into details about why potential ability and not average, and there are some details that I will leave out, but if you are interested in the full story go to the USGA Handicap Manual.

Keep in mind that TheGrint utilizes the USGA Handicap System to calculate your Handicap Index.

How to calculate your Handicap Index?

Average the handicap differential of the 10 best rounds out of your last 20. Then multiply that average by 96% and you will get your handicap.

We still however need to explain 1) How to get the handicap differential of each round? and 2) What happens when you have less than 20 rounds of golf recorded?

Calculating the Handicap Differential of a golf round

The handicap differential represents how good your round was on a certain golf course . Contrary to the golf round score, the handicap differential can be compared to any handicap differential even if you played on a different golf course. That is because it utilizes the course and slope ratings to adjust if the golf course you played was more difficult than a normal course.

To calculate the handicap differential use the following formula

Handicap Differential= (ESC Score – Course Rating ) *113 / Slope Rating

The ESC Score (Equitable stroke control) is the score minus any strokes that went over the  maximum score per hole based on your handicap. The max score per hole is:  ”9″ for players with a course handicap of 30 or more, “8″ for players with a course handicap of 20-30, “7″ for players with a course handicap of 10-20, and “Double Bogey” for players with a course handicap of 9 or less.

The course and slope ratings can be found on the scorecard of any golf course and they represent the difficulty of the course. For more details go to Course Slope Ratings

Once you get the handicap differential of each round, average the best (lowest) 10 of the last 20 rounds.

What if I have less than 20 rounds recorded?

Because the USGA handicap system aims to calculate the potential ability and not the average, it always takes the best scores instead of all the scores. Below is the table of how many differentials are used depending on the number of rounds posted.

So, in summary… Calculating the Golf Handicap Simplified

  1. Calculate the handicap differentials of each of your rounds
  2. Average the best 10 handicap differentials out of the last 20 rounds
  3. Multiply that number by 96%
Let me know if you have detailed questions. Or post comments below. 

NOTE that this article is intended for a broad explanation, there are many other guidelines like how to round numbers that are not included, for the complete explanation visit the USGA Handicap Manual.

Enjoy your Golf!

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22 Responses to How to Calculate a Golf Handicap?

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  2. andy nightingale says:

    where does the stroke index come into play? if I play off 10 handicap and I play a par 4, stroke index 11 i do not get a shot. i would normally pick up after the 5th shot as I cannot score so do i record a 6 or a 7?

    • TheGrinter says:

      Hi Andy,
      Great question! Stroke Index (hole handicaps) are generally used when competing with other golfers. Basically if player “A” with a 10 course handicap is playing against player “B” with a 2 course handicap. Then player A will get 1 stroke on each of the 6 most difficult holes based on the Stroke Index. That is because there are 6 strokes difference between their course handicaps.

      Just to clarify, Stroke Index is not used in the Handicap Index calculation. Hole Scores are not adjusted using the Stroke Index, instead they are adjusted based on the Course Handicap and the ESC guidelines. The ESC guidelines dictate the max allowed strokes per hole depending on the player’s course handicap.

      I hope this helps. Don’t hesitate to reply if you have further comments or questions.
      TheGrint Team

      • Matt Sweeney says:

        I have 20 rounds logged on The Grint and when I take the average of my 10 best differentials and multiply by 96% I get 14.8, however The Grint shows my handicap at 9.7. Any thoughts?

        • TheGrinter says:

          Hi Matt, good morning. We apologize for the late response. We checked your Account right now and we saw that your Handicap is 14.7. Everything looks correct.
          Please let us know if you have any questions or need anything else. You can e-mail us directly to

      • Mike ONeill says:

        I don’t understand why it wouldn’t be 8 not 6? When a 10 plays a 2 I would think he would get 8 shots?

  3. Tanner says:

    I scored a 92 but the rating is 111 so how do I get my handicap?

  4. Conrad says:

    When I have 2 9 hole scores are they added together to make 1 18 hole score?

  5. Gary says:

    Just exactly what is my handicap????

    • TheGrinter says:

      Hi Gary, good morning! Your Handicap is 10.9. However, you have two accounts set up with us. Please send us an e-mail to so we can help you put together the Accounts so you can have a more accurate Handicap and avoid conflicts with the Two accounts in the future.
      We will be waiting for your e-mail.

  6. Ken Beckmann says:

    I calculate my new handicap at 9.7 you have it at 8 ????

    • TheGrinter says:

      Hi Ken, good morning,
      Thank you for contacting us and for letting us know.
      Our apologies. The system didn’t update correctly.
      We re-submitted your Last Score and the system updated your Handicap to 9.7.
      Again, our apologies.
      Please let us know if you have any questions or need anything else.

  7. willie v says:

    Is the ESC or the original score used in calculating the new handicap index( 10 of 20) latest scores

    • TheGrinter says:

      Hi Willie, good afternoon. We apologize for the late response.

      The Original Score is the one taken when calculating the Handicap Index. Not the ESC.

      Let us know if you have any other question.

  8. Satish says:

    why is ESC not considered when calculating Handicaps? isn’t that mandated?



    • TheGrinter says:

      Hi Satish,

      Thank you for contacting us.

      If you upload just the Total Score, then you would have to adjust the ESC yourself manually. But if you upload the Score Hole-by-hole or import the Scores hole-by-hole, the Scores will adjust automatically.

      Let us know if you have any other question.


  9. Susan says:

    We always play the whites, usually only 9 holes at a time. Must I play the reds too to establish my handicap, or will 20 9 hole rounds of whites work?

  10. Brian Dexl says:

    Just to clarify – if I am entering scores for each hole, I do not have to adjust the score entered to account for ESC.. The Grint will do that for me when calculating my index? Best app I’ve found to date.. kudos.



    • TheGrinter says:

      Correct Brian – you just enter the score as you played it. TheGrint will do the ESC clean up automatically.
      Let us know if you have any other questions.

  11. Douglas Hayes says:


    What does it mean by “first handicap revision”?


    • TheGrinter says:

      Hi Douglas, good morning,

      Thank you for contacting us.

      We revise the Handicap on the 1st and 15th of every Month.

      On June 1st, your Handicap will update to whatever you have as your Trending Handicap that day.

      Let us know if you have any questions.

      We are here to help.