Handicap Guide

Curriculum for all ages

What is a handicap?

A handicap in golf is the measure of a golfer’s potential ability. In basic terms a handicap states how many strokes above or below par a golfer should be able to play. The lower the number, the better the golfer.

Why is it important to keep a handicap?

  • It is included in all SCGA memberships. If you have a membership number, you have access to handicap services already included in your membership.
  • Track your progress. If your handicap is going down then you are improving at golf. 
  • Keeping a handicap allows you to play and compete against other golfers no matter what ability level. Handicaps allow golfers to even the playing field.
  • As you progress in golf, handicaps will be required for most tournaments. The earlier you begin tracking your handicap the more accurate it will be.

Which courses are eligible for score posting?

Not all courses in Southern California are eligible to be used for handicap purposes. 9-hole courses must be at least 1,500 yards and 18-hole courses need to be at least 3,000 yards to be considered. This means that many Par-3 and Executive courses cannot be used for handicap consideration.

How many scores do I need to post to get a Handicap Index?

A player needs a minimum of five, 18 hole scores to calculate a Handicap Index. If a player has at least five but fewer than 20 scores available, the Handicap Index will be computed as follows using the specified number of differentials:

Score Available = 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

How do I post my score?

Do you have a smart phone? You are also able to post scores on your mobile device! Simply open your app store (available for Apple and Android devices) and search for GHIN Mobile. GHIN Mobile is the official app of the Golf Handicap and Information Network® (GHIN®), a service of the United States Golf Association®. It offers a personalized SCGA mobile experience that allows you to manage and follow your game. 

How do I establish an Index?

Once a player has posted 5, 18-hole rounds a Handicap Index will be calculated. You can also establish an Index by posting 10, 9-hole scores. This can be any combination of 9-holes played, they do not have to come from the same course. Until the golfer has established a Handicap Index, the golfer should use the maximum Index allowable in order to post their Adjusted Gross Score. The maximum Index for a male golfer is 36.4 and 40.4 for female golfers.

How do I use my Index and figure out my Course Handicap?

Using the Slope chart to the right, we want to find the Course Handicap for the golfer playing a course where the back tees have a Slope Rating of 143. If the golfer’s Handicap Index is 11.2 find that number in the range 10.7 to 11.4. This means the Course Handicap would be a 14. If the Handicap Index were 16.3, you would find the number in the range 16.2 to 16.9 and would play to a 21 handicap from that set of tees.

The easiest way to determine your Course Handicap for the tees you will be playing is to use the Slope tables at the back of the Southern California Golf Association Directory of Golf. Other places to determine your Course Handicap is the Slope Conversion Charts at the golf course. Or visit the Handicap Index Lookup feature on the SCGA.org homepage. Enter your member number to bring up your scoring file and under the tab C.H. Calculator, enter the Slope for the tees you will be playing.

For example, a golfer has a Course Handicap of 13 which means the maximum they can post on any individual hole is a 7. If the golfer’s total gross score (all strokes counted) for the day is 100 but they scored an 8 on one hole the player would adjust that individual hole score to a 7 and post a 99 for handicapping purposes.