Understanding Golf Handicap


Understanding Golf Handicaps


Golf offers a unique blend of skill, strategy, and competition. Whether you’re a seasoned player or a beginner, understanding the golf handicap system is essential for fair and enjoyable play. In this guide, we will take you through the process of golf handicaps, how they work and how you can improve your own handicap. 


What Is a Golf Handicap?


A handicap is a number used to measure a golfer’s playing ability, allowing players of different skill levels to play against each other fairly. The number aims to represent a golfer’s average score in relation to par and is based on the principle that every golfer has a potential to achieve a certain level of performance. From November 2020 the golf handicap system has changed, the governing bodies of amateur golf in the UK announced they have signed the licence for the New World Handicap System, allowing players to obtain and maintain a handicap that can be used on any course around the world.

Image of a golf green with white golf ball on the edge of the flag hole at Oakridge golf club for golf handicap blog

How Are Handicaps Calculated? 


A handicap takes into account a player’s recent scores, the difficulty rating of the golf course and the course rating. It’s a complex process, but the main idea is to compare a player’s scores against the difficulty of the course. 


If you don’t already have a handicap you will first be given an ‘initial’ handicap, this is calculated by submitting scores of 3 x 18 holes, 6 x 9 holes or a combination of both. Once you have submitted scorecards that total 54+ holes you will receive an initial handicap index which is adjusted relative to the number of scores that have been submitted which becomes more accurate the more scores are submitted. A player’s initial handicap will become a full handicap index once 20 scores have been submitted.


The World Handicap System takes an average of the best 8 of a player’s most recent scores in order to calculate their handicap index, with course difficulty and slope index being taken into account.


At Oakridge, if you do not have a current handicap, you will have to submit 3 signed score cards after playing our course with a member who is in possession of a current handicap. If you find it difficult making this arrangement, please contact a member of the Men’s Committee who will ensure that someone will be able to help you.


How to Improve Your Handicap? 


To improve your handicap try to practise and play regularly to refine your skills and consistency. Analyse your previous rounds to identify areas for improvement. Work on your weaknesses, whether it’s driving, putting or course management. If you’re finding it hard to practise alone, seeking professional guidance can help to set you in the right direction. You can contact our coach on this number: 01676 540542. Want to book a tee time? Click here to see availability.


The handicap system promotes healthy competition by allowing players of different abilities to compete on an equal footing. By calculating your handicap and striving to improve it, you can set goals and track your progress.

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