What is A Good Golf Handicap? – How Does Golf Handicap Work

Last updated on March 24th, 2021 | By: Thomas Spears

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The Golf rules and laws are strict so the question of what is a good handicap is subjective. The truth is, if you are playing for a bit and paying attention, you should have a fair idea of where to fit in the bigger picture. There is no perfect answer but let’s have a look at the majority viewpoint.


Golf is a complex art to master, it is possible in fact to master it. The fact that each game will be different and you get a real challenge. This is what makes Golf exciting and enticing. No two games will be alike, you know if you play the same course every time.


Getting an official handicap is not something all golfers do. Many enjoy the sport simply, play a few times a year and that is where it ends. Some of the players are pretty good while many are not that good.

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The idea is to give golfers different skills, experience, and abilities a relatively even playing field. This is not an easy task. More is built on the trust and honesty related to the game but for most of the part, the system works.


It is the few if not only sports in which amateur players compete with more experienced players and have a fair and even result. The rules are complex but consistent and applied equally to every player.

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Handicaps date back to the origins of golf in Scotland. It was recorded first by Thomas Kincaid in the 17th century. He studied medicine at University of Edinburgh Scotland and wrote widely on the subject of golf.


Handicap is a numerical value assigned to the ability of a golfer based on recent past performance. It is equal to the number of strokes over par a player makes. As the skill of golfers increases, the number decreases. A good player makes par or less on course will have scratch or zero handicaps.


It may vary from course to course so the difficulty of each course is accounted for. The system has evolved over the years and is highly regulated. Computers have added to management of handicaps. Obviously much depends on the honesty of the golfer as does the game itself. The truth is there is no valor in cheating.

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When the handicap system levels the playing field for golfers at different levels, the courses range in difficulty. The rating of each course, also the slope is taken into consideration. Each course has a specific rating according to the difficulty.

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Once you achieve a handicap of zero you are considered a scratch golfer. It is a sign of a very good golfer. It means you can get around a rated course on Handicap or on par or under par. It takes years of practice, dedication, and efforts to achieve a scratch handicap.

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As an expert, Insurers Golf care did a survey into handicaps. Many players don’t register for an official handicap, it is still the best way to know the skills. If you wish to be considered good, you need an official handicap. The survey found golfers at 16 to 20 handicap to be average golfers.


The USPAG puts the official average at 15 handicaps. This means a player who goes around 90 on the average course. Another measurement for the average golfers is the Bogey golfer. These players score a bogey on most forces. They score a bit over 90 and play off around 20 handicaps.


According to experts, The true average is a lot higher as a result of players without an official handicap. We can work with what we can measure, the average golf course is somewhere between 15 and 20. By that logic, players below 15 can be considered good. Golf is a competitive sport, you play against other players or teams, the important aspect is personal development.


All golfers have goals of shooting under a specific number or achieving a certain handicap. Golf requires constant effort and practice to achieve and advance. Keep in mind, that handicaps are much easier to reduce when the numbers are higher. It is much easier to go from 23 to 22 than from a 5 to a 4 for example. This is the reason players with a handicap of 10 may consider someone with a 5 to be a much better golfer.

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