Understanding Basic Golf Terms: Golfer’s Handicap

As a golfer, you have probably heard the term ‘handicap’ from time to time, even if you didn’t know exactly what it meant. Basically, golf handicaps are a way for golfers of different skill levels to compete against each other on an even playing field. So, for example, a golfer who shoots around 80 most of the time could play a match against a golfer who shoots around 100, and each would have a chance to win. Without the handicap system, the golfer who shoots around 80 would almost always win, but after using handicaps it can be a fair match.

Not Just Average Scores

Some golfers think that their handicap is simply an average of their scores over a period of time. That is the right idea, but there is more to it than that. The handicap system takes into account a variety of factors, including whether or not it was a tournament round, how difficult the course was, and more. This system has evolved over time to become more and more accurate and develop better tournament play among groups of people. If you were to enter a tournament at your local club, for example, the event would likely have a gross and net division, with the net division using the handicap system to determine a winner.

Also Useful to Track Progress

While the handicap system is mainly designed to help golfers compete fairly against one another, it is also useful just to track your own progress with your game. If you are a 10 handicap currently, you might set a goal for yourself to get down to a 5 by the end of the golf season. If you are a 20 handicap, you might try to get down to a 10. Having a goal in golf helps keep you motivated to go out and practice, and the handicap system is a nice measuring stick to see how you are improving over time.

If you don’t yet have an official golf handicap, consider signing up for one at your local golf club. Keeping a handicap is easy to do, will allow you to enter local tournaments, and will help you see how your game is coming along. Regardless of whether you are an accomplished golfer or a beginner, it is never too soon to start tracking your handicap and watching your progress as the rounds go by.