How to calculate a Golf Handicap?

We constantly get questions about how to calculate your golf handicap. And while you don’t need to understand it (since you can easily track yours using for free), it is very useful to understand the formula behind it.

So, I will try to explain it in a very simple way. Keep in mind that the full methodology is very complex and I will simplify it for this article’s purpose. If you want to know the full detail of the methodology go to USGA Full Handicap Manual. You can also estimate your handicap with our simple calculator at Golf Calculator.

Steps to calculate a golf handicap

  1. Calculate the Handicap Differential of each round
  2. Average the best 10 Handicap Differentials of the last 20 rounds, and multiply the result by 96%

How to calculate Handicap Differential

The Handicap Differential is a number that determines how good is a round based on the score and the difficulty of the course. The formula is:

Handicap Differential = (“ESC Score” – “Course Rating”) x 113 / “Slope Rating”

You surely noticed that the formula says “ESC Score” and not “Score”. That is because for handicap purposes the USGA establishes a maximum score per hole. And the ESC is your total score after applying those maximums.

The following table shows the maximum score per hole depending on your Course Handicap.

Golf Handicap Calculator

So what if I don’t have 20 scores posted?

Well the USGA handicap system also has a table that determines how many rounds to use if you have less than 20 rounds posted. Below the table that explains that:


Is this enough to get a Golf Handicap?

Well, unfortunately it is not that simple. The USGA requires that there is peer review of golf activities, and rightly so. The reality is that while most golfers behave ethically, not everyone does. And a mathematical formula will only give you back info based on what you put in, so if someone decides to trick the system it will be able to do so unless it is subject to peer review.

That is why the USGA Handicap System relies on clubs to perform the peer review. And if you don’t belong to a registered club with a certified Chairman, your handicap won’t be compliant with USGA regulations. Learn more here.

Let us know your comments or questions.

Enjoy your golf!

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23 Responses to How to calculate a Golf Handicap?

  1. Michael Constable says:

    I’ve tried many times to Postulate to be Chairman of our group using the Link provided but with no response. Las Vegas TG Golf Club.

    • TheGrinter says:

      Hi Michael, good afternoon

      Sorry we missed this message. We know that it is a very late response, but would you still be interested on becoming the Chairman of Las Vegas TG Golf Club?

      If so, you just have to click on Postulate for Chairman Position on your profile in Go to “MyUSGA Club” and then click there.

      Let us know if you have any questions.


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  3. Micki Marias says:

    I’m elderly with physical limitations. My husband and I normally play only nine holes. How can I get an accurate handicape when we only play 18 holes occasionally?

    • TheGrinter says:

      Hi Micki, good afternoon,

      If you usually play 9-holes, you get a 9-hole Handicap. But if you want an 18-hole Handicap, what you can do is combine the 9-hole Scores to make them 18-holes and get an 18-hole Handicap.

      The Combine Tool is on the Website, under the Scores Tab.

      You can contact us directly through e-mail at if you have any questions.

  4. calvin waller says:

    the club i am playing at is asking for a number so they can look up my handicap.
    do we have this ablility with the grint?

    • TheGrinter says:

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

      We do not offer a Handicap Number or ID #. What we offer is the Handicap Card which you can print from the Website or show it through the App. It shows your Handicap index and the Club providing the USGA Compliant Handicap.


  5. Joe Higdon says:

    Hello! What is a GHIN number and does the grint have one? I need it for a tournament. Thanks!

    • TheGrinter says:

      Hi Joe, good afternoon,

      Thank you for contacting us.

      We would be happy to help you out.

      We actually do not provide a GHIN #. GHIN and TheGrint are two different Handicap providers and we do not work together.

      Just so you know, many tournaments organizers don’t know the UGSA handicap system and require GHIN to participate in a golf tournament. Not even USGA sanctioned tournaments required GHIN, only a compliant handicap. We don’t provide GHIN number because that is a different handicap tracker tool.

      Handicaps are issued by USGA complaints club, not GHIN or USGA. We have created USGA clubs nationwide to comply with the USGA handicap system, and those handicaps provided by TheGrint are just as official as GHIN (but obviously we provide much more information).

      Everyone should and have to accept your Handicap Index as long as it is USGA Compliant of course. They can’t reject you because you don’t have a GHIN #.

      To get your handicap card, go to the “My USGA Club” section on your website profile and print it, and then show it to the Tournament Organizer. You can also show it through your app.

      In the handicap card is reflected the name of the USGA licensed club who is issuing your handicap. They can check this information if they want in the USGA licensed club listing on the USGA website (Here: But they must accept your handicap card provided by TheGrint if the club you are assigned within the system is already compliant.

      Any question or comment please let us know.

  6. Matt says:

    Why can’t i find myself in the usga handicap lookup? I’ve posted 6 rounds and and recieved my first official handicap number on the 15th. By the way, this app is great and super easy to use.

  7. Tim Murphy says:

    I just posted a score. How do I know what I’m trending? I assume my trend today will equal my revised handicap on 6/1?

  8. Juan says:

    hi guys, great application.

    I need to know how to reset my handicap??
    I haven’t use for a year this app and the index that i have is old and not what it has to be.

    Hope to hear about you soon


    • TheGrinter says:

      Hi Juan, good morning,

      Thank you for contacting us.

      We apologize for the late response.

      Handicaps are calculated using the lowest 10 Handicap Differentials out of your last 20 Scores uploaded. Meaning that if you already have 20 or more scores from this year, your Handicap is pretty much updated to this year’s scores.

      If we reset your Handicap to whatever you want to have it at now, as soon as you pass a Handicap revision (every 1st and 15th of every Month) your Handicap will update to what you have as your Trending Handicap.

      E-mail us to if you want to change your Handicap.


  9. Jason Clark says:

    How do I revise my handicap, step 4 of establishing the handicap. There is nowhere, that I see, where I can revise it.

  10. Jjcopeland7 says:

    What is “NH” for a 9 hole handicap?

    • TheGrinter says:

      Hi James, good morning,

      We apologize for the late response.

      N.H means No Handicap. However, we checked your Account and you have a Compliant Handicap. 9-holes & 18-holes. Everything looks correct now.

      You can e-mail us to if you have any questions.


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  12. Charles says:

    ?? The Grint showed me as NH. Also it appears as not all my posted scores are accepted,,, Why is this?
    I do,have a active GHIN number and Hdcp with another group. Is it possible for The Grint to use my GHIN number, so I do not have to post scores twice?

    • TheGrinter says:

      Hi Charles, good afternoon.
      Your Handicap is still NH because you Joined and uploaded all of your Scores on 6/21, after the Handicap Revision passed.
      As soon as you pass a Handicap Revision (Every 1st and 15th of every Month), your Handicap will update to whatever you have as your Trending Handicap, which is 25 right now.
      For the next Hdcp Revision, only the lowest 6 of all of the scores you have uploaded will count towards your Handicap. The more scores you upload, the more will count towards your Handicap. When you get to 20 or more scores, only the lowest 10 Hdcp Differentials out of your last 20 Scores will count towards your Handicap. All of this, following the USGA regulations.
      Regarding GHIN, there is no way of linking or synching both accounts as we are both Handicap Providers and we do not work together. Therefore, unfortunately, you would have to upload your Scores on both accounts separately.
      If you have any other questions, you can e-mail us to

  13. Jack says:

    Why does one of my scores on my Handicap card have a star next to it?

    • TheGrinter says:

      Hi Jack, good afternoon.

      On the Handicap Card the * means that that score is the one counting towards your Handicap.

      Handicaps are calculated using the Lowest Hdcp Differentials. If you have 20 or more scores, the Hdcp uses the Lowest 10 Hdcp Differentials out of your last 20 Scores.

      Hopefully this helps.

      Let us know if you have any questions.