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The handicap system is a major advantage that makes golf great and fair. The aim of handicapping is to enable golfers of differing abilities and skills to play together and compete against each other on a fair and equitable basis. The handicap (net) scoring are almost unique in the sports world.


What is a Handicap? – Definitions

A Handicap is a term used to describe a golfer’s skill level. It might seem like a confusing concept to those new to the sport. Fortunately, there are few definitions describing handicap, and clear formulas used to calculate it.

  • According to the USGA, a course handicap “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 golfer”.
  • The United States Golf Teachers Federation USGTF defines handicap as “a measure of player’s current ability over an entire round of golf, signified by a number. The lower the number, the better the golfer is”.
  • In simply words: “a handicap essentially signifies how many strokes above or below par a golfer should be able to play a 18-hole round of golf“.


Currently there are six different handicap systems around the world:

  • Golf Australia,
  • Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) in Great Britain and Ireland,
  • European Golf Association (EGA),
  • South African Golf Association (SAGA),
  • Argentine Golf Association (AAG),
  • United States Golf Association (USGA).

All these different handicap systems will be unified into a single World Handicap System that will be implemented worldwide in 2020.


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update: March 2018

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