What is Golf Handicap?

Sometimes we play the game without bothering too much about all these terminology but I feel it is good to know. There are so many adjustments in the final score of golf. It is based on the course rating, slope of a course and the golf handicap of a player.

Golf handicap, what does it really mean?

Golf handicap is a numerical measure of the golf player’s potential. “Official” handicaps are administered by golf clubs with regional and national golf associations. Exact rules relating to handicaps can vary from country to country.

Scratch and Bogey Golfers

A player with a handicap score of 18 is called Bogey Golfer and a player with a handicap score of zero is called Scratch Golfer.

Course rating and slope

In US each officially rated golf course described by 2 numbers:

  1. Course rating
  2. Slope

The course rating is the average “good score” of a scratch golfer on the course. this is generally measured by a number between 67 and 77.

The slope rating is the difficulty level of a bogey golfer compared to a scratch golfer on the golf course. This is measured by a number between 55 and 155.  The slope rating for a average course is 113.

Based on the above two number and Equatable Stroke Control (ESC) the player handicap differential is calculated.

ESC is the number of strokes allowed per round, which allow maximum number of strokes per round, for handicap score computation only.

According USGA Handicap Rules Book section 4-3 the equitable stroke control adjusted based on the below table:

Course Handicap Up to 9 10 – 19 20 – 29 30-39 40 and above
Max. Score per hole Double Bogey 7 8 9 10

The ultimate purpose of handicap score is to calculate which player will be granted an extra stroke for the round on a particular course. Sometimes it helps adjusting the final scores based on the above table.

Need more information on calculation and related to golf handicap on wiki.