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Handicap - FAQs

Have a question about your Handicap Index? Consult the list of questions below, and if afterward your question still isn't answered, email handicap@scga.org.

Frequently Asked Handicap Questions

How often are Handicap Index values revised/updated?
How many scores does it take to establish a Handicap Index?
I just joined a club and have 18-hole scores in my scoring record but my handicap shows NH. Why?
I didn’t get my latest eRevision (bi-monthly email with updated Handicap information). What do I do?
I have an “R” next to my Handicap Index? What does that mean?
I have an incorrect score in my record. How do I fix it?
I was asked what my Course Handicap is; How do I figure my Course Handicap and what is this concept?
How is a Handicap Index calculated?
For posting scores for handicap purposes, what is an ESC or Adjusted Gross Score?
Which value do I use for posting purposes or determining my Course Handicap?
Am I required to choose the MEMBER LOGIN feature in order to post a score on scga.org?
If I look up my scoring record, it seems that it does not include my recently posted scores. Why?
What is the Low Handicap Index (Low H.I.) and how is it calculated?
Am I required to be a part of a golf club in order to obtain a Handicap Index?
Is there an option to join/renew in a club online and pay membership fees with a credit card?
If currently a member of the SCGA, how can I make sure my membership is good for the for the future?
I want to renew membership in my same club. When and how can I do that?
I forgot to renew and want to get back into my same club. What do I do?
I don’t want to rejoin my golf club. What do I need to do to join a different club?
How do I get my SCGA membership card?
How does an Associate Membership compare to a “full/regular” SCGA membership?

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 revisionupdate@ghin.com 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: Is there an option to join/renew in a club online and pay membership fees with a credit card?

Yes, the SCGA offers an e-commerce portal for clubs that choose to offer this option.

Q: If currently a member of the SCGA, how can I make sure my membership is good for the for the future?

SCGA membership in a club is a 365 day/annual subscription in most cases. The SCGA will attempt to notify you approximately 60 days before your membership is scheduled to expire (unless your club has advised us not to do so). In general, if you take no action to renew in your club (online or contacting the club directly) before the membership expiration date, your membership will automatically expire. So action is required on your part to keep your membership continuous. More and more clubs are using the SCGA’s online registration program to allow for credit card payment of dues to make this easy on their members. Note: if your club participates in the SCGA’s online registration program, when making a credit card payment you have an option to set up and participate in automatic renewal, which eliminates having to go through a payment effort each and every year. If you choose this option, you will be notified before a credit card is charged and have the ability to cancel the auto-renewal. As always, you can contact your club and interact with its representatives and make payment directly to them.

Q: I want to renew membership in my same club. When and how can I do that?

See previous answer. For clubs participating in the SCGA’s online registration program, you will be able (notified by an email) to make a payment at a direct link to your club’s online payment portal 60 days before expiration. This is unofficially called the “renewal period.” If a member tries online before that, the club’s portal will advise them they are already a member of that club. Most clubs will be happy to take your cash payment for renewal at any time and would appreciate payment before your membership expires.

Q: I forgot to renew and want to get back into my same club. What do I do?

If your club participates in the SCGA’s online registration program, the quickest way to rejoin is go to scga.org and click the renew tab on the left of the screen (or just click here) and find your club. If the club name appears and the phrase “Renew Now!” is listed to the right, then the club is participating in the online registration program. Click on that link and you will be on your way to renewing, including paying your dues. As always, you can contact an official from the club and interact with that person to take care of paying dues. Make sure to use/give your existing SCGA/GHIN number to your club/enter it in the registration program to quickly get your scoring record and Handicap Index back in action.

Q: I don’t want to rejoin my golf club. What do I need to do to join a different club?

If you don't wish to renew with your previous club, visit scga.org and choose the renew tab. You can search for a club to find the right club for you. For those clubs that offer an online registration and payment option for membership, you can complete the action by clicking on the Renew Now! link. For those clubs that do not participate in the online registration, but are seeking members, a contact point with email address and phone number is listed. Clubs not seeking members in any way are unlikely to appear in any way on scga.org. If you cannot find a club, feel free to contact the SCGA at (818) 980-3630 and we’ll help connect you to a club. Additionally, for clubs tied to golf course facilities, you can usually visit the course and ask about membership in the club. In each case, please provide your existing SCGA/GHIN number to your new club, even if it has become inactive, so that your scoring record is transferred over, as this will be the quickest way to again have a Handicap Index. In general, if you have a minimum of five scores in your record, you will receive a Handicap Index from that club after the next revision (1st and 15th of each month).

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 mailed to you by the SCGA. Cards may take up to six weeks for processing and delivery. Membership cards are no longer connected with the delivery of FORE magazine in any way. Also, for multi-members, you will receive a card and SCGA partner benefits/discounts for each club.

Q: How does an Associate Membership compare to a “full/regular” SCGA membership?

Both full and associate membership types provide you with “full” SCGA benefits, including a Handicap (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 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. The standard cost for an Associate Membership is $60 and sometimes can be discounted if an individual has a promo code that is entered and applied (click the apply button if you enter a promo code) to reduce the cost.