Calculating Handicaps

A Handicap Index is the USGA's service mark used to indicate a measurement of a player's potential ability on a course of standard difficulty. Potential ability is measured by a player's best scores, and is expressed as a number taken to one decimal place. These scores are identified by calculating the handicap differential for each score. The USGA Handicap Index is calculated by taking 96 percent of the average of the best handicap differentials, and applying Section 10-3 for golfers with two or more eligible Tournament Scores.

A handicap differential is computed from four elements: adjusted gross score, USGA Course Rating, USGA Slope Rating and 113 (the Slope Rating of a course of standard difficulty). To determine the handicap differential, subtract the USGA Course Rating from the adjusted gross score; multiply the difference by 113; then divide the resulting number by the USGA Slope Rating. Round the final number to the nearest tenth.

The Equitable Stroke Control system is used to compensate for " Blow Up Holes " or to keep players from " Sand Bagging ". If your Handicap is 15 and you shoot a ten during a round, you must record your ten for the match. Before entering you score for Handicapping however you must change the ten to a seven. Use the chart below for your current Handicap.

Equitable Stroke Control Chart to adjust gross score:

Course Handicap Maxium Score
0-9 Double Bogey
10-19 7
20-29 8
30-39 9
40 or more 10

USGA Handicap Formula:

Handicap Differential = (Adjusted Gross Score - USGA Course Rating) x 113 / USGA Slope Rating


Adjusted Gross Score - USGA Course Rating: 95 - 71.5 = 23.5

Difference x Standard Slope: 23.5 x 113 = 2655.5

Result / USGA Slope Rating: 2655.5 / 125 = 21.24

Handicap Differential (rounded): 21.2

The USGA Handicap Index Formula is based on the best handicap differentials in a player's scoring record. If a player's scoring record contains 20 or more scores, the best 10 handicap differentials of the most recent 20 scores are used to calculate the USGA Handicap Index. The percentage of scores used in a scoring record decreases from the maximum of the best 50 percent as the number of scores in the scoring record decreases. If the scoring record contains 9 or 10 scores, only the best three scores (30 to 33 percent) in the scoring record will be used. Thus, the accuracy of a player's Handicap Index is directly proportional to the number of acceptable scores posted. A USGA Handicap Index shall not be issued to a player who has returned fewer than five acceptable scores. The following procedures illustrate how authorized golf associations and golf clubs calculate a player's Handicap Index.

The procedure for calculating Handicap Indexes is as follows:

1. Use the table below to determine the number of handicap differentials to use;

Number of
Acceptable Scores
To Be Used
5 or 6 Lowest 1
7 or 8 Lowest 2
9 or 10 Lowest 3
11 or 12 Lowest 4
13 or 14 Lowest 5
15 or 16 Lowest 6
17 Lowest 7
18 Lowest 8
19 Lowest 9
20 Lowest 10

2. Determine handicap differentials;

3. Average the handicap differentials being used;

4. Multiply the average by .96;

5. Delete all numbers after the tenths' digit. Do not round off to the nearest tenth.