Net Score and Handicap Strokes
In handicap competition, the net score is calculated to even out the players’ chances of winning. Handicap strokes are used to calculate it. The number of handicap strokes received is equal to the golfer’s Playing Handicap on the course being played. These strokes are subtracted from the player’s score for the played holes².
In accordance with the Rules of Handicapping, handicap strokes are assigned on holes² according to their Stroke Indexes (abbreviation on scorecards: Index, SI, HCP or HDCP). The Stroke Index of a particular hole determines its difficulty in comparison to other holes on the same golf course. Stroke Indexes range from “1” for the hardest hole to “18” for the easiest hole on the course.
On 9-hole courses, Stroke Indexes range from “1” to “9”. Handicap strokes for 9-hole rounds are received and returned in the same manner depending on the respective 9-hole Stroke Indexes (1-9).
An example of the Stroke Index values on the scorecard is shown below.
Net score in stroke play
In Stroke Play, the idea behind the handicap system is very simple. The number of handicap strokes received is subtracted from the player’s total strokes for the round (gross score).
Players with a “plus” / positive Playing Handicap add the handicap strokes to their gross score.
Stableford Net Score
For Stableford scoring, the first handicap stroke is assigned on the hardest hole with Stroke Index “1”. Second handicap stroke on the hole with Stroke Index “2”, and so on, allocating all handicap strokes on subsequent holes.
If a player receives more than 18 handicap strokes, the extra strokes are assigned in the same order. The nineteenth handicap stroke is assigned on the hardest hole with Stroke Index “1”, the twentieth handicap stroke on the hole with Stroke Index “2”, etc.
Players with a “plus” / positive Playing Handicap return their strokes starting at a hole with Stroke Index “18”, then “17”, etc.
In match play, the player with the lowest playing handicap receives no handicap strokes and his playing handicap is zero. The other players receive handicap strokes equal to the difference between their own playing handicap and the lowest playing handicap. The calculator of handicap strokes in match play is available here.
The calculated handicap strokes are assigned on holes similarly to the Stableford net scoring, i.e. the first stroke on the hole with Stroke Index “1”, the second on the hole with Stroke Index “2”, … the nineteenth stroke again on the hole with Stroke Index “1”, etc.
update: July 2021