A Short guide to the world handicap system

To understand the USGA handicap system, it’s useful to know a few facts about how your handicap index is calculated, and how that is used to determine your course handicap. Full details on the calculation of your handicap index are in Section III, Rule 5.1 of the Handicap System manual, linked below.

When you post a score, the system is actually recording a differential score, not your actual score. That differential calculated as 113 divided by the slope of the tees you used, multiplied by your adjusted gross score, minus the course rating for the tees, minus any Playing Conditions Calculations.

The system then takes the best eight of your last twenty differentials and averages them. This is your handicap index.

Exceptional scores of any type can lower your handicap index. The process for that is found in the Handicap System guide listed below, in section III, Rule 5.9. The major change to this process is that it is no longer tournament scores, and tournament scores are no longer looked at for 12 months. If you have one exceptional score, it will roll out of your handicap once it is not part of your last twenty scores.

Now that you have a handicap index, we turn to your course handicap, the number of strokes you get on a course that day.

The calculation of your course handicap is done by taking your handicap index, multiplying that by the slope of the course and dividing by 113, then adding the sum of the course rating minus par for the course. That number is rounded to the nearest whole number, and is your course handicap. This is shown in Sec. III, Rule 6.

The kiosk in the Tanglewood clubhouse can be used to find a 9 or 18 hole course handicap for the Tanglewood courses. The GHIN app on a smartphone will give you your course handicap. After logging in, select ‘Course Handicap Calculator’. You can enter in a course name, or use ‘Recently Played’, or ‘Nearby Courses’. (Nearby courses doesn’t seem to work well if you’re on WiFi). After you’ve selected a course, select the tees, and the app will show you your handicap index, and your course handicap. You can also add other golfers to find their course handicap.

All of the details about the USGA Handicap System are available online at the USGA World Handicap System webpage.

If you have any questions, please email the Handicap Chairman

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