How To Get A Golf Handicap In Seven Easy Steps

How to get a golf handicap is not as difficult as some may think. However it is important to understand what it is, and what it means to your game.

In golf, the handicap allows you to play with other players of different skill levels. You get to compete at an equal level with these players.

On top of this, it allows you to play with more experienced players which will eventually improve your game, as well as your handicap. But, for most beginners, the calculation of their handicap seems complicated. It isn’t. How to get a handicap is based on straight forward calculations.



  • Golfing associations: There are four golfing associations’ and you need to know the one you belong to. There is the USGA (United States Golf Association), CONGU (Council of National Golf Union), European Golf Association (EGA) and South African Golf Association (SAGA). These associations use different formulas to calculate handicaps even though, at the end of the day, there is little difference between the handicaps.
  • Scratch Golfer: This is a golfer who has a handicap of zero. Professional players have a zero handicap.
  • Standard scratch: This is the average score scratch golfers gets on one round.
  • Bogey Golfer: This is a golfer with a handicap is greater than 28.
  • Course rating: This is a numerical value provided by the golfing association. It gives the approximate number of strokes a scratch golfer needs to complete a given course.
  • Slope rating:The Slope rating shows the difficulty of a course for an average golfer and is calculated by comparing the Course Rating to the scores of bogey golfers.

How To Get A Handicap Using USGA

Step 1: Join a Club

Join a golf club that can get you your handicap. The golf club will charge you a fee; however the handicap you get with them is ‘official’ and can therefore allow you to participate in golfing events.

Another way to do it is online. This is simpler and definitely less expensive, as some sites will not charge you anything.

On the down side, your handicap may not be recognized as an official handicap and that may prevent you from participating in golfing events. However, if you only want to track your progress, the online option is the way to go.

Step 2: Sink Some Balls

You have to play between 5 and 20 rounds on an 18 hole course. Record all your scores and keep the score cards as you will need to submit them to your club.

To calculate your beginning handicap, take your top 5 scores (which means the 5 rounds with the least number of strokes) and record them on your score card.

Step 3: Get your score

Tally your strokes at the end of each round. This is what we will use to calculate your handicap.

You will need to use the standard scratch which the golf club provides to all players. The club will also provide you with a table that tells you how many strokes you can deduct at each hole.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s use 4 as the total number of strokes to be deducted from the total. Something to be noted is that as your handicap improves, the number of deductible strokes allowed per hole changes.

Step 4: Deduct The Scratch…

Deduct the standard scratch from the total number of strokes from each round. This will give you the gross score.

Step 5: And the Permissible Stroke Deductions

Now deduct the number of strokes permitted by the club (i.e. 4) from your gross score. You now have the adjusted gross score.

Step 6: Determine Adjusted Gross Score

Tally the adjusted gross score. In this example, you get 135 as your adjusted gross score. From that, get the average of this number (135 divided by 5); to get 27.

Step 7: And Voila,

27 is now your starting handicap and you are ready for golf.

Emilia Clarke                

Do not worry too much as to starting with a high handicap. This simply signifies the beginning and there is a lot of room for improvement. The more you play the better your handicap gets.

You can keep track of your scores by handing in your score cards to the club. That way, your handicap can be changed as it improves. Below are a few tips on how to improve your handicap.

Tips To Improve Your Handicap

  • Go to the range – Go as often as possible. This will help you improve your shots. It will also improve the fluidity of your motion.
  • Practice your short game (putting) - Just as important as it is to improve you shot distance, it is equally important to take time to work on your putts. Your short game will also reduce the number of strokes you play on any given hole.
  • Check your equipment - Do not skimp on the equipment. Ensure you get good quality clubs, as anything less will reduce the power of your shots.
  • Take fitness seriously - Golf in itself is great exercise as it involves a lot of walking (unless you using golf carts). Maintaining your core strength will improve your posture and strengthen your stroke. Also, with every game you play, make sure you stretch thoroughly. All the big players do it. Check out golf exercise here.
  • Play at different courses - to improve your general game, play on different courses. Different courses have different difficulty levels, and getting used to one course will make your game robotic.
  • Keep track of your statistics - keep score of all your games and as your game improves, your handicap improves, and the better the quality of you game becomes.
  • Play with better players - better players can only improve your games. Their experience will keep you from making mistakes and they will give you additional tips to improve your handicap.


I hope this tutorial has been helpful in your start to the game of golf. Knowing your handicap is key in golf because it is the only way to track your progress and it also helps in participating in events.

I would love to hear your comments below, and if you have found this article informative, please share.

Emilia Clarke

My name is Emilia Clarke and I am the person behind In this website, we have one goal – to help you to become the best golf player that you could. We can extend a helping hand through providing you with articles that will provide basic knowledge about the sport, including how-to and buying guides.

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