How To Calculate Your Golf Handicap: Easy Step By Step Guide

Calculate your course handicap by multiplying the Handicap Index by the Slope Rating and dividing it by 113.
How to Calculate Your Golf Handicap

Calculating your golf handicap can be intimating! Don’t worry, I’ve researched the newest regulations by the World Handicap System and created this set-by-step guide.

Feel free to follow along! All you’ll need is your most recent golf scores and a calculator!

Glossary

Course Rating
USGA Course Rating is an evaluation of the difficulty of a golf course for scratch golfers. The number is an estimate of the average scores of the best 50-percent of rounds played by scratch golfers at that course.

Slope Rating
Slope rating (a term trademarked by the United States Golf Association) is a measurement of a golf course’s difficulty for bogey golfers relative to the course rating.

Par
The number of strokes a first-class player usually requires for a particular hole or course.

Adjusted Gross Score
The adjusted gross score is a player’s gross score adjusted under USGA Handicap System procedures for unfinished holes, conceded strokes, holes not played or not played under the Rules of Golf, or Equitable Stroke Control.

Running average
The Adjusted Gross Score x 0.96

Handicap Index
A Number used to represent your potential scoring ability. Always expressed as a number taken to one decimal place (e.g., 10.4).

Step 1: Get your Adjusted Total Score

Do you remember Tiger’s 10 on the 12th hole at Augusta? The truth is, that happens to everyone, especially if they play the 12th hole at Augusta!

According to the World Handicap System, the number of strokes you can pick up on any given hole is limited. Since Pros don’t play off a handicap, they have no maximum number of strokes on any given hole.

Used this Table for reference to calculate your Adjusted Scores

Course HandicapMaximum Score
Nine or lessDouble bogey
10-197
20-298
30-399
40 and above10

Here an example of how you calculate your adjusted total score:

Hole #ParScoreAdjusted Gross Score
Hole 1566
Hole 2455
Hole 3344
Hole 4477
Hole 5498
Hole 6488
Hole 7555
Hole 8333
Hole 9433
Hole 10477
Hole 11466
Hole 12555
Hole 133108
Hole 14566
Hole 15444
Hole 16333
Hole 17455
Hole 18455
Total7210198

Step 2: Calculate your Handicap differential for each Score

The handicap differential will tell you how well you’ve played that round. It accounts for the course’s difficulty, the tee box you’ve played from, and your total adjusted score. Use this formula to calculate yours.

Handicap differential = (Adjusted Gross Score – Course Rating) x 113 / Slope Rating

For our model

RoundParMy ScoreAdjusted Gross ScoreCourse RatingSlope RatingHandicap Differential
1721019871.112224.9

In our example:
(98 – 71.1) x 113 / 122 = 24.9

Note: 113 is considered the average slope rating according to the USGA.

Step 3: Calculating the average of the smallest value from the differentials

Use the top 10 out of 20 handicap differentials. If you don’t have 20 scores, pick the lowest one on your list.

Round #ParMy ScoreAdjusted Gross ScoreCourse RatingSlope RatingHandicap Differential
772979771.112224.0
8721009871.112224.9
1172989871.112224.9
1372979771.112224.0
1472959571.112222.1
1572989871.112224.9
1672989871.112224.9
1772979771.112224.0
1872969671.112223.1
1972979771.112224.0
Average24.0

Note

  • If you only have 10 scores available, use the lowest 3. If you have 15, use the lowest 6.
  • Don’t round this number! Truncate it to the tenths (20.0813 becomes 20.0)

Step 4: Get your running average by multiplying that score by 96%

Almost done, hang in there! Determine the average of your net handicap differentials by multiplying them by 0.96.

In our example:
24.0 x 0.96 = 23.0

Finally! Calculate your course handicap

You made it! You can now calculate your course handicap. You will need it to calculate the number of strokes any given player receives on a particular course.

Here the formula for your course handicap:

Handicap Index x Slope Rating/113 + (Course Rating-Par)

In our example:

Our Handicap IndexCourse Slope RatingCourse RatingCourse Par
2312271.172
Course handicap25.8

Our calculation:
23 x 122 / 113 + (71.1 – 72) = 25.8

What to do next

Golf handicaps allow you to play competitive matches with players of different skill levels. Use this and try some stroke-play, match-play, or scramble competitions with your friends!

Do you want to lower that handicap? Start by reading about our favorite swing tips.

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