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 TheGrint.com 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
- Calculate the Handicap Differential of each round
- 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.
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!