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.
Definitions of the Handicap Index
A “Handicap Index” 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 index “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 index 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”.
- The World Handicap System (WHS) defines handicap index as “the measure of a player’s demonstrated ability calculated against the Slope Rating of a golf course of standard playing difficulty (that is, a course with a Slope Rating of 113)“.
- In simply words: “a handicap index essentially signifies how many strokes above or below par a golfer should be able to play a 18-hole round of golf“.
By the end of 2019, six golf organizations around the world were using six different handicap systems:
- Golf Australia
- Great Britain and Ireland (CONGU)
- European Golf Association (EGA)
- South African Golf Association (SAGA)
- Argentine Golf Association (AAG)
- United States Golf Association (USGA)
In 2020-2021, all of these different handicap systems were replaced by one unified World Handicap System (WHS).
update: January 2022