Use my free golf handicap calculator below to calculate your handicap using the new 2020 rule changes!
Free Golf Handicap Calculator
To figure out your handicap score, enter in your 5 most recent 18-hole golf scores above. Our tool will calculate your individual round handicap (HCP) and overall golfer handicap.
You can use the USGA National database to figure out your course and slope ratings. More information about how to do this is below!
How Does our Golf Handicap Calculator Work?
A golf handicap calculator automatically performs your handicap calculation so that you know your expected score. To use the calculator, enter your recent golf scores, the course rating, and the course slope into the table above. The calculator automatically gives you your golf handicap score.
A lower handicap score indicates that the total number of strokes you take in a round of golf will be less than those with a higher score. The formula I get into below considers the course’s difficulty, course’s par, and skill level of the player.
This calculator gives you your golf handicap net score – your score after your handicap is subtracted from your actual gross score.
What is Golf Handicap?
A golf handicap is an adjusted numerical value that tells you how many shots over par you are expected to hit in a round of golf. The handicap takes into account each golf course so that a difficult course can be compared side by side with an easy one.
The handicap score is designed to allow an average golfer and a professional golfer to play on an even playing field, by allowing the average golfer to adjust their score for their handicap. You should use your most recent round in your formula so that your number represents your current level of play.
The World Handicap System is a governing that developed the formula for golf handicap and also administers each course’s course rating and slope rating.
How to Determine Your Golf Handicap
To determine your own golf handicap score, you need to know the formula to plug your numbers into. The official golf handicap formula is:
Golf Handicap = Handicap Index X (Slope Rating / 113) + (Course Rating – Par)
This formula was just overhauled in 2020 in order to provide a more accurate handicap for players. The new formula takes into account those golfers who play from a different specific set of tees and have adjusted yardage and course par.
Most players and events round your handicap to the nearest whole number
Another term that is regularly used is your golf handicap differential. This is the difference between your adjusted gross score and the official United States Golf Association (USGA) rating of the course after it is adjusted for the slope rating.
The differential has the following formula:
Handicap Differential = (Score – Course Rating) x 113 / Slope Rating
Players with the lowest differentials (or negative) are known as better golfers.
Handicap Maximum Score
Once you have an established handicap index, one of the nuances of the system is that in official competition, you have a maximum hole score you can apply. The maximum equals net double bogey, which is the hole double bogey, plus the number of handicap strokes you are entitled to for each hole.
This net double bogey replaces the old equitable stroke control number that used to be used before 2020.
To figure out the maximum score you can get per hole:
You get a handicap stroke for each of the hardest holes up until you reach your handicap. So if your handicap is 15, then you get a stroke on the hardest 15 holes on the course. For these holes you could score a triple bogey (double plus one) and for the easiest 3 holes you could score a double bogey.
The score you receive after applying your handicap is called your adjusted score.
If you don’t play in official tour events, then you don’t need to know too much about the rules of handicapping.
Components to a Golf Handicap
18 Hole Score
Your 18-hole score is the actual gross score that you had after your round at the golf club. When you are trying to calculate your handicap, you have to watch and track your recent scores and input them into the golf handicap calculator.
The course rating is a measure of the difficulty of a golf course for scratch golfers. If a golf course has a par of 72 and a rating of 68, then the world’s best golfers would be expected to score 68 on a round of golf at the course. If the course rating is higher than its par, then even the best golfers in the world would be expected to shoot above par. This rating is unique for different golf courses.
The course slope rating is an indication of the relative difficulty of a specific course between a scratch golfer (handicap index of 0) and a bogey golfer.
The lower course slope rating is 55 and the highest is 155. The higher the number, the more difficult the golf course is. The course’s slope is calculated using a fancy formula that considers the average hitting distance for a scratch golfer and looks at what hazards are in play during a regular round of golf.
All of these factors are used in the official USGA formula determine golf handicap.
How to Determine Course Rating and Course Slope
USGA Course rating and course slope are calculations that are unique for each particular course. They are difficulty factors that adjust your USGA handicap for the difficulty of the course that you played.
To find out a rating and slope for a specific golf course, check out the USGA National Course Rating database. Here, you can search for different courses located all around the world.
From the list of search results, click on your particular golf course.
In the final screen, the USGA database shows you the course rating for par and bogey, and slope rating for each tee and gender. You take the resulting number from this screen and input them into the golf handicap calculator above.
Other Important Definitions
While you are here learning about handicap, the game of golf has other related definitions you should learn.
Some websites will show you handicap and handicap index, so what is the difference? While technically the same thing, a handicap index is the score that is generated from official scores submitted into the governing body handicap system – USGA in the United states and Golf Canada in Canada.
To be an official handicap index score, submit them to your governing body.
Scratch golfer is the term used to describe a player with a handicap index score of 0.0. This means that you would be expected to score even par every 18 holes under normal playing conditions and gameplay. For a lot of casual players, becoming a scratch player is a lifelong goal and dream.
Being a scratch golfer means that you would have the skill level to place high in amateur and local tournaments.
A bogey golfer is a player with an average handicap score of 20.0 for men and 24.0 for women. This means that on any given day, you are likely to score one over par on average per whole. A standard par 72 golf course will equate to a 9-hole score of 46 and 18-hole scores of 92.
A lot of casual golfers play bogey golf, and the average score for a golfer around the world is 96, which is slightly worse than bogey golf.
A handicap allowance is an extra percentage variable in the calculation that gets added in official competitions. The allowance prevents golfers with different handicaps to gain an unfair advantage over others. It is applied differently by round type so that stroke play, match play, and other types can be compared.
The following table outlines the recommended allowances based on medium-sized field net events:
|Format of Play||Type of Round||Recommended Handicap Allowant|
|Stroke Play||Individual Stableford||95%|
|Stroke Play||Individual Par/Bogey||95%|
|Stroke Play||Individual Maximum Score||95%|
|Stroke Play||Four-Ball Stableford||85%|
|Stroke Play||Four-Ball Par/Bogey||90%|
|Other||Foursomes||50% of combined team handicap|
|Other||Greensomes||60% low handicap + 40% high handicap|
|Other||Pinehurst/Chapman||60% low handicap + 40% high handicap|
|Other||Best 1 of 4 stroke play||75%|
|Other||Best 2 of 4 stroke play||85%|
|Other||Best 3 of 4 stroke play||100%|
|Other||All 4 of 4 stroke play||100%|
|Other||Scramble (4 players)||25%/20%/15%/10% from the lowest to highest handicap|
|Other||Scramble (2 players)||35% low/15% high|
|Other||Total score of 2 match play||100%|
|Other||Best 1 of 4 Par/Bogey||75%|
|Other||Best 1 of 4 Par/Bogey||80%|
|Other||Best 2 of 4 Par/Bogey||90%|
|Other||Best 3 of 4 Par/Bogey||100%|
|Other||Best 4 of 4 Par/Bogey|
The handicap allowance is a percentage which allows it to be applied to both a 9-hole course or 18-hole course.
The golf handicap calculator above will help you figure out your handicap index on the course. To use it, you enter in 5 or more recent scores. The calculator figures out your golf handicap.
To get an accurate number, you need to know your course’s difficulty and slope rating. This can be found in the USGA national database, which is the overall governing body of golf.
Once you know what your handicap score is, you can also figure out your handicap differential and handicap maximum score. These tools are more important for tournament and competition play.
Your golf handicap is mostly informational only, but a lot of golfers take interested in it. This is especially true as you become close to a scratch golfer.