Before you say your driver or 60 degree wedge, this is a valid question that most golfers overlook. This question popped up at work today and I thought it would make for an interesting topic.
Here is what Golf Canada has to say:
The purpose of the Golf Canada Handicap System is to make the game of golf more enjoyable for golfers by providing a means of measuring one’s performance and progress and to enable golfers of differing abilities to compete on an equitable basis.
Through this system, each golfer establishes an “Golf Canada Handicap Factor” which is a numerical measurement of a player’s potential (not actual) scoring ability on a course of standard difficulty.
The Handicap Factor is calculated using the best 10 of the player’s last 20 rounds and updated with each new round played. The Handicap Factor travels with the golfer from course to course and is adjusted up or down depending on the length and difficulty of the course played, resulting in a “Course Handicap”. The Course Handicap is the number of strokes a golfer receives from a specific set of tees at the course played and represents the number of strokes he would require to play equitably against a “scratch” golfer (a golfer with a Handicap Factor of “0.0′). The more difficult the golf course, the more strokes the golfer receives and vice versa.
The real question dealt with what we considered to be a low, medium and high handicap. My friend suggested anyone with a 20+ score and I said 10+. Immediately we looked at each other and realized that something was amiss.
At SandTrap.com they suggest:
- Low: Handicaps 8 and under (typically shooting in 70’s)
- Mid: Handicaps 9-24 (low 80’s to mid 90’s)
- High: Handicaps 25+ (high-90’s and up)
At Golfsmith.com, they suggest:
- Low: Handicaps 9 and under (typically shooting in 70’s)
- Mid: Handicaps 10-18 (low 80’s to mid 90’s)
- High: Handicaps 19+ (high-90’s and up)
The last bit of information that is important is the average handicap for men and women. After checking many sites, the consensus is that the average male golfer has a handicap of 16.1 and the average female has a handicap of 28.9. So using this information, most golfers would be considered medium handicap players. Additionally, the definition of low, medium, and high handicap does vary, but the reasons for establishing a handicap do not.
To enter in some tournaments, handicaps are used to place players in flights against others of their own caliber. It is also used to calculate foursome handicaps for “Scramble” tournaments. And lastly, it determines how many strokes a higher handicap player will receive in a match-play event. Most players do not have an official handicap and for the most part it really does not matter.
Personally, I am a member of the Golf Association of Ontario. My handicap index is 5.4 or a 5 handicap with a scoring average of 79.2 over 20 games. For the golfer who plays many rounds a year, establishing a handicap is a good thing. It is part of the game and helps promote an often overlooked aspect of golf – fair play.
Do you have an official handicap?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!