New to the golfing world and not sure what all this handicap business is about? Well, it’s a concept you’ll need to learn if you’re to become a more regular golfer, so hopefully you’ll find all the information you need here.
As well as explaining what a golf handicap is, we’ll answer a bunch of the FAQs on the topic. How do you determine your own handicap? What handicap do you need to be a pro golfer, and what is the average handicap for a professional golfer? Is a ‘plus handicap’ good or bad?
All of this and more will be answered below for you…
What is a Golf Handicap?
A golf handicap is essentially a numerical measure of a golfer’s playing ability. It calculates a net score based on the number of strokes a player makes during a round.
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It is used to enable players of differing abilities to compete on a more even playing field (or course) against each other. A handicap basically signposts how many strokes above or below par a golfer should be able to play.
Typically, the better golfer you are, the lower your handicap (i.e. a golfer with a handicap of 1 is a stronger golfer than one with a handicap of 10).
They are designed to show a golfer’s potential, not an average of their previous scores, and handicap systems differ between regions and countries.
For instance, the United States Golf Association (USGA) calculates handicaps by estimating the number of strokes below or above par a golfer may achieve, based on the scores of their ten best rounds from their previous 20 rounds of golf.
Whereas in Europe, golf’s governing organisations leave such responsibility to individual countries’ national golf associations.
For men, golf handicaps usually range between zero and 28, and for women, between zero and 36.
Do Professional Golfers Have a Handicap?
If you’re sat there wondering, ‘What handicap is a professional golfer?’, well, while they’re not banned outright, you’ll generally struggle to find a pro golfer who has a handicap. Almost no pro golfer enters their tournament scores, in fact.
Why? Well, for starters, they don’t need to – they’re professionals, so there is far less of a need for handicaps to make it a more even contest. Plus, major professional golf tours don’t offer competitors slope and course rating numbers for the golf courses used, a factor often taken in account when determining a handicap.
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Can Pros Get a Handicap?
Yes, a pro golfer can technically obtain their own handicap index in the same way as an amateur golfer would.
You can also use the World Handicap System’s Course Handicap Calculator, as provided by England Golf, which is as follows:
Handicap Index x (Slope Rating/113) = Course Handicap.
Professional Golfer Handicap Score
Like we said, pro golfers don’t typically keep score, but if they did, it was estimated last year that their average handicap index would be +5.4. This should give you an idea of the sort of handicap you’d need to make it in the professional golfing world.
Check out the full table of results below:
What is a ‘Plus’ Handicap?
A plus handicap is a golf handicap stronger than zero (scratch), and which demands that the golfer adds his handicap to his score. So, you essentially aim below the rating, then add the number of strokes to your gross score afterwards.
For instance, if you win a golf championship by one stroke, and have a +1 handicap, then in actual fact, you win by two strokes.