Handicapping is a way of creating a level playing field between golfers of differing abilities. You’ve heard of people “giving strokes” to someone, right? That’s what a handicap does, but on a somewhat more sophisticated level. It is not just an average of your scores-instead it is based on your scoring potential, using the 10 best of your last 20 scores.
You enter your golf scores through the internet, and the result is two numbers: your handicap index and the trend. The handicap index is the number you use for tournament play and is updated at least monthly. The lower the number, the better the player. The trend changes every time you enter a score and lets you know whether your handicap is moving up or down at that particular moment. Establishing and maintaining a Handicap Index is a great way for you to see how your golf game improves through the season and from year to year.
USGA Handicap System
Two basic premises underlie the USGA Handicap System, namely that each player will try to make the best score at every hole in every round, regardless of where the round is played, and that the player will post every acceptable round for peer review. The player and the player's Handicap Committee have joint responsibility for adhering to these premises.
A Handicap Index, issued by a golf club or authorized golf association (through its member clubs), indicates a player's skill and is a number taken to one decimal place, for example: 10.4.
A Handicap Index compares a player's scoring ability to the scoring ability of a scratch golfer on a course of standard difficulty. A player posts scores along with the appropriate USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating to make up the scoring record. A Handicap Index is computed from no more than 20 scores plus any eligible tournament scores. It reflects the player’s potential because it is based upon the best handicap differentials posted for a given number of rounds, ideally the best 10 out of the last 20 rounds.
A handicap Index is portable from course to course, as well as from one set of tees to another set of tees on the same course. A player converts a handicap Index to a Course Handicap based on the Slope Rating of the tees played.