If you’ve never kept a Handicap Index (or even if you do), chances are you’ve used some excuse for why you don’t need one. We’ve heard them all, so we decided to break down the some common excuses and why they’re flat-out wrong. Now it’s up to you: read on and decide to get legit with your golf game, or keep playing in the dark.
The worse you are, the more it helps you! The Handicap System is designed to provide a way for players of all skill levels to compete on an even playing field. If you’re tired of losing to that friend that played in college and finally want a fair shot, this is the way to do it.
We all know that playing a round with your buddies fires up your competitive spirit just as much (if not more so) as playing in an organized tournament. Whether you’re playing for skins or bragging rights, get yourself a handicap and stop giving away strokes arbitrarily. If you keep your Handicap Index, your 100 could be a NET 80. If your friend is a net 81, guess who gets to talk trash?
Skip the initiation fees, high monthly dues, and food and beverage minimums. There are plenty of golf clubs near you that you can join and get your official USGA/GHIN Handicap Index for just the price of a cup of coffee per month. (Still not sure what it means to join a golf club? Check out our posts on redefining the modern day club or myths about joining a club.)
When you join a golf club to get your Handicap Index, you may pick a group that calls a specific course home. However, there are also thousands of groups that don’t claim a home course and decide to play different courses throughout the year. Regardless of which group you join, you can post scores from ANY course (as long as it has a Course Rating).
As mentioned in myth #4, your Handicap Index travels with you to any course and any round you play can be posted (provided you have at least one other person with you to confirm your score is correct).
Thanks to Equitable Stroke Control (ESC), those blow-up-hole moments don’t define you! The ESC sets a maximum number a player can post, depending on their handicap. For example, if you are a 20 handicap, the maximum score you can have on any hole is an eight. Single handicaps can only post double bogeys.
|Course Handicap||Maximum Number|
|9 or less||Double Bogey|
|40 and above||10|
You can post 9 hole scores! When you post two 9-hole rounds, they create a “combined” score on your Handicap Index, which is the equivalent of playing one full 18-hole round.
Sure, there is an equation used to calculate your Handicap Index (we won’t bore you with the details here). But this equation means nothing without a Course Rating. The Course Rating assigns a numerical value to the difficulty of the course and set of tees you play from. While your Handicap Index is one number, the number of strokes you get for a given round (called the Course Handicap) changes based on where you’re playing. (Want to learn more? See our posts for more info on the Handicap Index and Course Rating.)
As discussed in myth #8, each course has a unique rating based on it’s difficulty. Shooting even par at the local par 3 ain’t the same as even par at Augusta. Take the guess work out and start using a Handicap Index to get a razor sharp understanding of how well you played.
When you get a USGA/GHIN Handicap Index, you also become a member of your regional golf association (like the SCGA). In addition to the tournaments, outings, and discounts you receive through this membership, you’ll also be connected to a community of golfers in your area where you can meet new golf buddies and find your new home for golf.
While there are plenty of ways to get an imitation handicap, the USGA/GHIN Handicap Index is the most widely accepted (and often the ONLY accepted) one on the market. Becoming a member through your local club who is registered through the SCGA or any other USGA affiliate is the most reliable way to go.