Q: How do I join the SCGA and get my Handicap Index?
There are 3 ways to join the SCGA, all of which include a USGA/GHIN Handicap Index:
- Golf Club Member - Become a member of any SCGA golf club. Find a golf community that matches your style: EXPLORE OUR CLUB FINDER
- Associate Member - Join as an SCGA Associate Member and we’ll auto-assign a club near you. It’s fast, easy and inexpensive: JOIN NOW
- Start your own club - Do things your way! Check out how to get started quickly and easily: START YOUR CLUB
Q: What is a USGA/GHIN Handicap Index?
A Handicap Index is a number used to represent your potential scoring ability, which is always expressed as a number taken to one decimal place (e.g. 10.4). This number is used to calculate how many strokes you would potentially need to adjust your score back to par, and allows golfers of all skill levels to compete on an even playing field. While there are different ways to get your Handicap Index, the USGA/GHIN Handicap Index is the most universally trusted and accepted version. For more information on the USGA/GHIN Handicap System, check out this great article on our blog..
Q: Do I have to join a golf club to join the SCGA?
Yes, to maintain a valid USGA Handicap Index, you must be a member of a certified USGA “golf club”. Don’t worry! We make the process easy by automating the process (Associate Membership) or by helping your find a local group that fits your personality, ability level and style of play (Club Finder Tool). You can also start your own golf club if that’s more your style!
Q: How do I get a Handicap Index?
Step 1: Join an SCGA golf club! It’s fast and easy if you go here. Step 2: Once you join, the SCGA will send you your own GHIN number. This number is unique to you and allows you to “post scores” to your individual golfer account. You can post your scores at scga.org or by using the USGA GHIN App on your mobile phone. You’ll need to post five 18-hole scores in order to establish your Handicap Index, which will be revised/established on the 1st and 15th of each month. Step 3: Your Handicap Index will be revised and emailed to you on the 1st and 15th of each month. Please note: Posted rounds are NOT limited to rounds played with your golf club; you can post rounds from any round at any golf course, with any group of golfers. For a simple step-by-step process with video, check out our get started guide.
Q: What's the difference between an Associate Membership and a Regular Membership?
Both full and associate memberships provide you with “full” SCGA benefits, including a USGA/GHIN Handicap Index (posting scores via your GHIN number).
Full membership means that you are joining an SCGA-licensed golf club and you have “full” access to that club’s tournaments and benefits. Pricing will vary because each club determines their own club dues.
An Associate membership means that you are joining a SCGA-licensed golf club as an Associate Member, which provides limited access to that club’s tournaments and benefits. The club determines the limited benefits it sets for associate members. A chart outlining participating Associate Member clubs and benefits can be viewed here.
Q: What is the difference between GHIN and other Handicaps out there?
While there are different ways to get your Handicap Index, the USGA/GHIN Handicap Index is the most widely trusted and accepted version. Whether you’re trying to qualify for the U.S. Open, play in a local club event, or participate in a charity tournament, a USGA/GHIN Handicap Index will always be accepted (and other handicap providers likely won’t be).
Q: How long is my membership good for?
Your membership is good for 12 months from the date you join.
Q: How do I post a score?
You can post a score on the SCGA website, on the USGA’s GHIN mobile app, or posting computer found in the golf shop at your local golf course. For more information and videos, check out ourQuick Start Guide. To post, you’ll need to enter the course, set of tees, and your score.
Q: How do I renew my membership with my previous golf club?
Most SCGA golf clubs participate in the SCGA’s online join/renew program, so the quickest way to rejoin is to go toscga.org/renew and input your club into the search box. If your club appears, a “Renew Now!” link is listed to the right which will take you to your club’s renewal portal. If your club does not use the SCGA’s online join/renew program, the contact name for your club official should be listed. We recommend contacting him/her to renewl. As always, you can also contact the SCGA if you have trouble finding your club contact: (818) 980-3630.
Q: What else does my membership include?
Aside from a USGA/GHIN Handicap Index, all SCGA members receive:
- Access to 100+ competitive tournaments for golfers of all skill levels
- 60+ non-competitive, member-only group golf outings at private and premier SoCal courses at discounted rates
- Monthly member-only discounts
- $150+ in rewards at golf retailers
- Subscription to the SCGA’s FORE Magazine
Q: How do I renew my membership with a different club?
- If you know which club you’d like renew with: go to scga.org/renew and search the name of the club you wish to join. If that clubs offers online registration/payment for membership, you’ll find a “Renew Now!” link next to their search result listing. Have your GHIN number handy so that your account can be transferred to your new club. For clubs that do not participate in online registration, but are seeking members, a contact point with email address and phone number is listed. Note: for clubs directly associated with a golf course facility, you can usually visit the course and ask about membership in the club.
- If you do not know which club you’d like to renew with: visit clubfinder.scga.org and search for clubs in your area that match your interests and ability level. Again, have your GHIN number handy so that your account can be transferred to your new club. If you need help finding a club, contact the SCGA at (818) 980-3630 and we’ll be happy to help.
Q: I've posted scores, when do I get a Handicap Index?
In order to get a Handicap Index, you need to post at least five 18-hole scores. Your Handicap Index is updated on the 1st and 15th of every month. Once you have five scores posted, you’ll receive your Handicap Index by email on the next revision date (the 1st and 15th of every month).
Q: Can I keep my same GHIN number if I change clubs?
Yes! You can keep the same GHIN number, no matter which club you renew with.
Q: Do I have to play with my golf club?
Your level of participation with your club is entirely up to you. The SCGA encourages golfers to engage with their club, as these local groups are fun, social and an essential part of the golf community. However, while your club will likely offer regular tournaments and/or events, you can play and post a score at any golf course with any group of people your choose.
Q: My membership expired. Do I still get to keep my same GHIN number?
Your GHIN number remains tied to your membership for at least 2 years after your membership expires. If your membership expired less than 2 years ago, you will be able to keep the same GHIN number by searching our database and linking it to your reactivated membership. If your membership has been expired for more than 2 years, your GHIN number may be reassigned to a new member.
Q: Can I post rounds that I played before I'm a member?
Yes! You can post any scores you have saved, regardless of when you played.
Q: Does my score history get deleted if my membership expires?
Like your GHIN number, your score history remains on record for at least 2 years after your membership expires. If your membership has been expired less than 2 years, or if has been expired more than 2 years but your GHIN number has not been reassigned, your score history will remain intact. If not, you’ll be given a new GHIN number and will need to repost any scores you have saved.
Q: Can I set my membership to renew automatically?
Yes! When renewing your membership through the SCGA’s join/renew portal, select the “Auto-Renew My Membership” option when checking out. Note: not all SCGA clubs use the SCGA’s join/renew portal for membership renewal, so this feature will vary by club.
Q: Am I a USGA member when I join the SCGA?
No. While your SCGA membership includes a USGA/GHIN Handicap Index, it is not a membership to the USGA.
Q: I can't find where to renew my club membership online. How do I renew?
To check if your club has online renewal, search for your club atscga.org/renew. If your club doesn’t appear, or does not show the “Renew Now!” link next to their name, you’ll need to contact a club official directly to renew. Alternatively, you can call the SCGA at 818-980-3630.
Q: I have more questions regarding a Handicap Index, where do I go?
Visit the SCGA website (there’s also a handy chat feature on the site), consult your club Handicap Chair, or give the SCGA a call at 818-980-3630. We are here to answer ALL of your questions.
Q: I have more questions - can I talk to somebody on the phone?
Of course! If you have any questions about your membership or need help renewing, give us a call at 818-980-3630. Our business hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. PST, Mon-Fri.
Q: Can a club start offering this at any time or does it have to be started at year-end?
A club can begin to offer this at any time. Most would probably start when most of their membership activity takes place, but nothing precludes a club from starting at any time.
Q: Who is responsible for providing the club information to the SCGA to get started?
The club identifies an individual contact point for the SCGA to work with. The club contact can fill out the form at scga.org/access or it can identify a person and ask the SCGA to walk through the preparation with that person. In either case the SCGA will work with the club contact to make sure everything is set up correctly.
Q: Can the club ever change any information?
Yes, we recognize that things can change. We would ask the individual contact for the club to reach out to the SCGA Member Services Department to ask for a change in information. Changes in dues from year to year will need to be communicated PRIOR TO September 1. The SCGA will implement the change and allow the contact for the club to review and confirm any modifications.
Q: What credit card types can be used on the membership portal?
Visa and MasterCard only.
Q: Are there any fees to the club or individual for participating in this?
There are no additional fees. This is an SCGA member service.
Q: Who at the club gets notified that a member has joined or renewed online through the membership portal?
The club initially identifies a single contact to receive email notification. The club can have other people added to the notification list by contacting the SCGA.
Q: How often is the club contact notified via email?
The club contact is notified seconds after any membership transaction is completed.
Q: If a club uses the portal, can that club then pay its SCGA invoice/statement amount via credit card?
Q: Does the new member learn about who to contact at the club?
In the confirmation email, the new member will receive a club contact name and email address for any questions. Many clubs are planning on sending a welcome email to the new member; the SCGA will automatically send its welcome to the SCGA email as well.
Q: Does the club have to input member information into the GHIN database via GHP Online Club?
No, the new member fills out a profile during the process and this data is automatically loaded into GHIN.
Q: How quickly does a new member receive an SCGA/GHIN number?
A new member receives his or her SCGA/GHIN number seconds after the transaction is completed as part of an email notification that everything has been completed. This member can immediately begin to post scores after receiving this number.
Q: Is the credit card information secure?
https:// is in place during the input and utilization of the credit card information. This is the standard in the industry and uses Secure Socket Layer that encrypts information.
Q: Can an existing member update his or her contact information so that our club has the best possible information to use?
Yes, during the procedure the member’s profile will be made available for review and updating. This updated information will be stored in the GHIN database and is accessible via GHP Online Club at any time.
Q: How does the club learn of the profile information entered during the process so that it can contact its new member?
The identified club contact will receive the profile information in the member joined confirmation email. It also can use GHP Online Club to access the member’s individual record and/or generate a club roster at any time.
Q: Can a former member of our club, who is now inactive, again become a member of our club using the online commerce tool/portal?
Yes, a player can be found via SCGA/GHIN number or name and if the member is inactive can be reinstated.
Q: Is there both a join and a renew capability and do we have to use both?
There is both a join and renew capability, accessible through a single button/link. A club does not have to offer both joining and renewing capability. The good news is that if an existing member clicks on the button/link, the program will realize that the person is a member of the club and is renewing and price accordingly. Similarly, for a brand new member to a club chosen, the program will determine that this person is new to the club and ask the right questions and price accordingly.
Q: Our club has one membership type that includes all of our tournaments and another membership type that does not include tournament eligibility. Can we use the online membership portal for both membership types?
Yes, We can accommodate as many membership types as your club offers. We give you an opportunity to describe the benefits of your membership types in approximately five lines of text so that prospective members can determine which choice suits them best. This concept also applies to individuals comparing clubs and their benefits.
Q: Can we charge one fee for first-time members, a different fee for renewing members up to a certain date, a different fee for renewing members after a certain date and another fee for those who actually let their memberships expire with the commerce portal?
Yes, we will confirm all of your various pricing models and automate these functions so that you do not have to remember to change something on date x.
Q: We charge juniors and seniors different fees than other members. Can that membership portal accommodate this?
Yes, by using the date of birth entered into the golfer’s profile, pricing can be automated. Similarly, this also will determine whether a golfer is eligible for the SCGA Junior discount, where we do not charge a golfer SCGA dues if under the age of 18.
Q: Do all of our members have to participate in auto-renewal?
NO. The auto-renew feature is optional for each member.
Q: Is there an auto-renewal membership option with this program?
YES. A club can choose to allow its members to optionally participate in an auto-renewal option, easing the collection of dues for the long term.
Q: Do members who sign up for auto-renewal have the ability to opt-out of this feature later?
YES. Members will receive an email notification both four weeks and two weeks in advance of an automatic renewal, giving the opportunity to cancel the upcoming charge. See sample below:
Q: If a club inactivates a member who is scheduled for auto-renewal, will the auto-renewal charge go through?
NO. When a member is inactivated, auto-renewal is also inactivated for that member.
Q: When will auto-renewal take place for a member?
If a member joins/renews through the portal during the Oct. 1-Dec. 31 open enrollment period, auto-renewal for that member will occur exactly one year later from that join/renew date.
If a member joins/renews through the portal from Jan. 1-Sept. 30, auto-renewal for that member will occur approximately November 20 of that year.
Q: If a member does not choose the auto-renewal feature while joining or renewing a membership, but decides that auto-renewal makes sense, can a change be made regarding participation?
Given that auto-renewal is chosen during the membership payment process, the member would not be able to activate the auto-renewal feature until the next membership cycle/year.
Q: Will a club have to address inactivation dates or anything similar for a golfer who is set up for auto-renewal?
Example 1: The program is set up so that, for example, a golfer who pays for membership on November 15, 2016, will have an inactivation date of December 31, 2017, because that individual has paid 2017 dues. If that person chooses auto-renewal and lets that go through, the individual will be charged for 2018 dues on November 15, 2017, and the inactivation date will be reset to December 31, 2018, because that individual has paid for 2018 dues.
Example 2: The program is set up so that, for example, a golfer who pays for membership on January 15, 2016, will have an inactivation date automatically inserted into the GHIN database of December 31, 2016. If that person chooses auto-renewal and lets that go through, the individual will be charged for 2017 dues on December 31, 2016 and the inactivation date will be reset to December 31, 2017, because that individual has paid for 2017 dues.
Q: When our club goes in to inactivate members and/or set inactivation dates for those not participating in the SCGA’s online membership payment program, we see dates listed for some golfers. Should we change those dates?
NO. If you see a date listed for a golfer that is in the future, especially a date of December 31 a year into the future, it is because the person has paid for membership online and the SCGA has noted this accordingly. Please leave these dates alone. And while the year will be different than your club’s “manual” inactivation effort, it is suggested that a club use a date other than December 31 for clarity.
Q: If a member signs up for auto-renewal, but opts out via either the four or two-week emails, will the club have to do anything to inactivate the golfer?
NO. For a member who originally signs up for the auto-renewal program, but later opts out, the program automatically inserts an inactivation date of December 31 for the relevant year. (The program actually sets that inactivation date the moment the golfer joins through the portal, then resets the date when the automatic renewal is processed). For comfort, a club could look to see if an inactivation date has been set in the GHIN database.
Q: If our club wants to change its membership prices for a new year, and a golfer is scheduled for auto-renewal, what should be done?
Any club desiring to change its dues structure MUST notify the SCGA PRIOR TO September 1. (All clubs offering the auto-renewal option will receive a reminder about this approximately August 1). This allows the member that is scheduled for auto-renewal a chance to see the upcoming pricing change in the four-week advance notification email, and be given an opportunity to opt out of auto-renewal. See sample auto-renewal notification message that includes pricing breakdown earlier in document.
Q: Can a member scheduled for auto-renewal actually inactivate membership online?
Technically NO, but practically yes. The club is the only entity in position to inactivate a membership; the member can only opt-out of the automatic renewal function. However, if a member opts out of automatic renewal and does nothing else, the membership will expire automatically at the end of the year because a set inactivation date has automatically been set for the golfer. A club official really needs to do nothing in this situation and club should not be charged for this individual. Example: Golfer joins through the portal for 2016 membership on December 15, 2015 and elects auto-renewal; program sets golfer’s inactivation date to 12/31/2016. That golfer will receive the first reminder notice about auto-renewal approximately November 15, 2016. If that golfer opts out of auto-renewal at that time, then no attempt will be made by the program to charge the golfer’s card for 2017 dues. If the golfer does nothing more, the inactivation date of 12/31/2016 will kick in and the golfer will become inactive on that date.
Q: How often are Handicap Index values revised/updated?
A Handicap Index is updated on the first and fifteenth of each month.
Q: How many scores does it take to establish a Handicap Index?
A player needs a minimum of five 18-hole scores to calculate a Handicap Index (or 10 nine-hole scores). See “How is a Handicap Index Calculated?” below for more details.
Q: I just joined a club and have 18-hole scores in my scoring record but my handicap shows NH. Why?
Your scoring record will show NH (no Handicap Index) until it goes through a revision on the 1st or 15th of the month. In the interim, if you need your Handicap Index prior to the revision, your club's Handicap Committee can issue you a local handicap when at least five scores are posted (identified by a capital L - ex. 15.4L).
Q: I didn’t get my latest eRevision (bi-monthly email with updated Handicap information). What do I do?
Make sure you have made firstname.lastname@example.org part of your “approved/safe sender” list. This is the “from” address for the eRevision. Make sure the report is not sitting in your spam folder. Also, the system is set up to try to deliver an eRevision up to three (3) times (three revisions). After three failures delivery is discontinued. You may print out your Handicap Index information from the SCGA website's Handicap Index Lookup just by choosing "print." Another option to show/confirm your Handicap information, including Handicap Index, is by downloading the GHIN Mobile App and entering your information. Once logged in choose the “MY CARD” feature to display your Handicap Index and scoring information. “Stats” breaks down the detail of each of your scores, including the USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating for each posted score, the handicap differential associated with each score, a “trend” telling you where you are headed handicap wise as if handicaps were being updated today, along with an average of your scores.
Q: I have an “R” next to my Handicap Index? What does that mean?
The “R” indicates that a golfer is being reduced due to exceptional tournament scores. The reduction is an automatic part of the Index calculation each revision. Eligible tournament scores stay in a stored tournament file for a year from the date of the score or remain as part of the most recent twenty scores within the scoring record. Each revision, the formula looks at what the golfer’s traditionally calculated (Section 10-2) Handicap Index is, then checks to see if there are at least two tournament differentials in the tournament file of at least 3.0 below the calculated Index value, which causes a formula (Section 10-3) to determine whether the golfer will be reduced. The calculation also considers the total number of eligible tournament scores (number of tournament scores with a T designation in the last twelve months) in the record, as well as the spread between the normal Index calculation and the average of the best two tournament score differentials).
The reduction is checked for at each revision for every golfer, because it is part of the USGA formula. This is not a penalty, just part of the formula’s effort in identifying potential ability, recognizing that a player has to have scored at least 3.0 better than the normal calculation at least twice for this to even be considered. Because this is checked for at each revision, this value is not locked in as the Handicap Index for any specific duration. An individual impacted by this portion of the formula who believes that it is inappropriate can contact their club’s Handicap Committee to discuss. The SCGA is not authorized to change a member’s Handicap Index and will not recommend that a club do so based on more recent poor play/performance, given that the value is based on potential ability.
For greater detail on this portion of the USGA Handicap System formula (Section 10-3), please click here
Q: I have an incorrect score in my record. How do I fix it?
A golfer must contact their club’s Handicap Chair to have a score corrected or removed. The SCGA normally does not perform any file maintenance requests that come directly from individual members, unless it is clear that a score has been replicated in error.
Q: I was asked what my Course Handicap is; How do I figure my Course Handicap and what is this concept?
Your Handicap Index is a generic standard that is not tied to any course or tees. In order to get the right value for a particular day, you need to convert the Handicap Index into what is called a Course Handicap for playing purposes each time you play. There are many ways to determine your Course Handicap for the tees you will be playing, but you will need the Slope Rating for those tees. There are often charts near golf course computers used for score posting; those same computers will convert your Index under “Handicap Lookup”; if you use the GHIN Mobile App chose the C. H. Calculator; or use the scga.org Handicap Index lookup and after entering your SCGA/GHIN number and bringing up your scoring record, choose the C.H. Calculator tab and enter the Slope Rating for the tees being played. In general, a player’s Course Handicap will be equal to or greater than the Handicap Index when playing a tee with a Slope Rating of 113 or more, and less than the Handicap Index when playing a tee with a Slope Rating of less than 113.
Q: How is a Handicap Index calculated?
For each score posted, a handicap differential is calculated. This is to determine which scores are the best scores, taking into account the course difficulty (USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating are both important).The formula is:
Handicap Differential = (Adjusted Gross score – USGA/SCGA Course Rating) x 113 / USGA/SCGA Slope Rating
Using this example:
- Adjusted Gross Score was 95 at a course with 73.5/130 (USGA Course Rating/Slope Rating)
- Adjusted Gross Score 95
Minus the course rating (73.5)
- Result = 21.5
- Multiply Result by standard Slope (113) of a golf course: 21.5 X 113 = 2429.5
- Divide by the slope of the tees played: 2429.5/130 = 18.688 Handicap Differential = 18.7 (rounded)
Once your score file consists of 20 scores, your ten lowest differentials are added together, divided by ten and then multiplied by 96%, the result being your Handicap Index. You do not round the result. Your ten lowest differentials are used, not necessarily the ten lowest scores in your score file.
A player needs a minimum of five scores to calculate a Handicap Index. If a player has at least five but fewer than 20 differentials available, the Handicap Index will be computed as follows:
Q: For posting scores for handicap purposes, what is an ESC or Adjusted Gross Score?
An adjusted gross score is a player’s gross score adjusted under the USGA Handicap System procedures for unfinished holes, conceded strokes, holes not played or not played under the Rules of Golf, or Equitable Stroke Control (ESC). ESC is the downward adjustment of individual hole scores for handicap purposes, in order to make handicaps more representative of a player’s potential ability. ESC sets a maximum number that a player can post on any hole depending on the player’s Course Handicap. The Adjusted Gross Score/ESC score is the score that you post for handicap purposes.
As an example, a player with a Course Handicap of 19 would have a maximum hole score of 7 for handicap purposes. So if this person scored 102 and had an 11 on the sixth hole (a par 5) and had a 9 on hole 14 (a par 4), they would need to deduct four strokes for the sixth hole (11 - 7 = 4) and two on hole 14 (9 - 7 = 2) for a total of six strokes deducted from the 102 gross score. This results in an adjusted gross score of 96 (102 - 4 - 2 = 96). The individual would post a 96 for handicap purposes. Below is a chart to determine a golfer’s Equitable Stroke Control maximum:
Q: Which value do I use for posting purposes or determining my Course Handicap?
The SCGA issues the rating values and populates the computers tied to GHIN, the SCGA website and the USGA website. Please use the computer display/SCGA.org information. Often times a course will print a large number of scorecards and continue to use those until they run out, even if new ratings have been issued.
Q: Am I required to choose the MEMBER LOGIN feature in order to post a score on scga.org?
No, while a member login allows you access to certain information and can be helpful for various things, like keeping your contact information up to date, it is not a requirement for posting a score. Scroll down to the Black “My SCGA” box and enter your GHIN number and last name and you can post your score without “logging in.”
Q: If I look up my scoring record, it seems that it does not include my recently posted scores. Why?
When you look at your scoring record, it will default to the Revision Scores display. If you want to see your recently posted scores, choose the Recent Scores tab
Q: What is the Low Handicap Index (Low H.I.) and how is it calculated?
The Low Handicap Index is the lowest Handicap Index value that an individual has had in the last 24 revisions/12 months. It is not calculated; it just looks at each of the issued Handicap Index values that a golfer has on record during the time period.
Q: Am I required to be a part of a golf club in order to obtain a Handicap Index?
Yes, the USGA requires that you are to be a part of what it identifies as a “golf club” in order to receive a Handicap Index. The Handicap System is built around something called peer review, which is oversight by a group and the ability of people you play with to support or dispute the validity of your scores. There are more than 1400 SCGA Golf Clubs, many tied to social, fraternal or work groups, so there should be a fit for you. If you are not formally connected to a club in any way and don’t believe an existing group matches up with your needs, you might consider SCGA Associate membership (see below)
Q: How do I get my SCGA membership card?
Your SCGA membership card, tied to your club with the various partner benefits, including the Roger Dunn $15 gift card, is emailed to you by the SCGA. Cards may take up to four weeks for processing and delivery. Membership cards are no longer connected with the delivery of FORE magazine in any way.