What Does My Current Handicap Index Actually Mean

I am a strong believer that every golfer should establish a handicap index. It is the benchmark that players can use as a starting point to improve their game. I definitely use it as such, but it is more than that. I helps manage expectations, level the playing field, and establish how many strokes I want to negotiate with players for a side game. It is an important number that is provided at a reduced rate by local golf course (Osprey Links) on behalf of Golf Canada. I see no downside to having an accurate handicap index and recommend every golfer take the time to establish one.

Currently, my handicap index is 4.6. This is high for me, but early games in the year have a tendency to raise my index. I have established a low of 4.2 this year, but that was a false number because it combined my 9-hole rounds on the easier side of the my home track. Regardless, I plan to lower my index to 3.0 or lower by the end of the season. We shall see if I reach this goal in 2020.

What does a 4.2 index actually mean. Well, at my home course of Osprey Links, this means my target score from the whites tees is 74; from the blue tees is 78. With the upgraded system this year, these numbers actually make sense to me. I checked out another of my favourite golf courses, Seguin Valley Golf Club in Parry Sound, Ontario and this is what I would have to shoot given my index. Looking at the chart, I would likely play the Blue tees because it closely matches the white tees at my home course.


TeeCRSLParCourse HcpTarget Score
Mens BLACK73.314471879
Mens GOLD71.913971778
Mens BLUE70.313371576
Mens WHITE67.312471172
Mens GREEN64.611571+269
Mens RED62.910971+467

This is very important information because it helps manage my expectations when playing a new track. I always want to enjoy any golf outing and understanding the correct tees to play is very important. Having an index helps guide my tee choice. There is nothing worse than playing a new track and having a disappointing round because it was a complete grind or easy peasy. Having an index helps reduce the chances of wasting 4.5 hours on a golf course.

An index helps level the playing field. For some reason net golf events have gone to the wayside for more scrambles. This is a bit disappointing because it higher handicap players are at a disadvantage during scrambles. There are no limitations as to team compositions and as such, four single digit handicappers will clean up in most events. If everyone on your team or in the low teens for a handicap, you are giving up many strokes aside. Hence the playing field is unfair. An established handicap by all players will balance the inequity and give every player a fighting chance to win.

Lastly, setting the stakes for a side game is always fun. There is nothing more frustrating than a player not really telling the truth about their game and then saying that this is the best I have played all year as you hand them your hard earn cash. True handicaps take all that guess work out of the mix. You can still negotiate the stakes, but it will be from a fair assessment of each players abilities.

I outlined just three benefits of establishing a official handicap index. To do this where I live, you have to join Golf Canada. They are the sole providers of official handicaps in Canada. I have been a member for seven years and this year I renewed my membership at a discount through my local Golf Course of Osprey Links. There are other benefits for joining Golf Canada and you can find them here.

Having an official handicap index is important and urge you to start today by contacting your local golf course.

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!


2 thoughts on “What Does My Current Handicap Index Actually Mean

  1. Jim, I agree that a handicap system will help as you say. But I find the handicap system isn’t perfect. For example my friend who plays at the same club all the time struggles to score anywhere near what he does when we go to a different course. In addition length plays a bigger role. Many modern golf courses are longer and depending on the tees, this can put a lot of pressure on your game and raise your score more than is typically allowed by the handicapping system. I know many older gents who are low handicappers and if pushed to back tees, they lack the physical tools to score anything near their handicap. My good friend has come to grips with this and I’ll often play one set of tees behind him. Going into par 4s with a 3 hybrid it 4 iron isn’t always what you want.
    Just my 2 cents.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linley

      You are right about the score changes when playing a different track or moving tees. I would suggest that the handicap of your friend is not a real overall handicap. They likely are higher. I change and play the blues from time to time a d it is a bit challenging, but the handicap system adjusts. There likely is no 100% solution, but for now this is what we have and it is important for golf to use it. It is an interesting conversation with many sides that is for sure.

      Cheers Jim

      Liked by 1 person

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