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How to Calculate your Golf Handicap (USGA)

I have always been fascinated by numbers, particularly how they pertain to golf.  Everyone asks what your handicap is but no one really knows.  Or those that do oftentimes have it calculated by their golf club or a computer.

If you want the how well look no further.  This is how it works.

Golf Handicap Calculation — Part 1

A minimum of five scores and a maximum of 20 is required to get started. Remember, when posting scores for handicaps, you must use your adjusted gross scores. For each score, the USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating for the courses played are also required.

Using these three figures, your first step is to calculate your handicap differential for each round played using the formula below:

(Score – Course Rating) x 113 / Slope Rating = Handicap Differential

Some folks say they only count complete rounds or they didn’t play a full round or better still their club only takes rounds played in within a certain area.  According to the Pope Of Slope there are ways of counting all rounds played no matter how many holes you played.  (More on that later.)

For example, let’s say the score is 95, the course rating 72.2, the slope 131. The formula would be (95 – 72.2) x 113 / 131.   The handicap differential is 19.7 (rounded up).

This differential is calculated for each round entered.

(Note: The number 113 represents the slope rating of a golf course of average difficulty, as set by the USGA.)

Golf Handicap Calculation — part 2

Determine how many differentials are being used. Not every differential that results from Step 1 will be used in the next step. If only five rounds are entered, only the lowest differential will be used. If 20 rounds are entered, only the 10 lowest differentials are used. A chart at the bottom of this page shows how many differentials are used based on the number of rounds entered

Golf Handicap Calculation — Part 3

Get an average of the differentials used by adding them together and dividing by the number used (i.e., if five differentials are used, add them up and divide by five).

Multiply the result by .96 (96-percent). Drop all the digits after the tenths (do not round off) and the result is handicap index. Or, to put it formula form:

(Sum of Differentials / number of differentials) x 0.96

Thankfully, as we said at the beginning, you don’t have to do the math on your own. Your golf club’s handicap committee will handle it for you, or the GHIN system if you log in to post scores.

Based upon the number of rounds entered you determine the number of differentials used.

Rounds Entered Differentials Used
5-6 1 lowest
7-8 2 lowest
9-10 3 lowest
11-12 4 lowest
13-14 5 lowest
15-16 6 lowest
17 7 lowest
18 8 lowest
19 9 lowest
20 10 lowest

I will be adding a spreadsheet to help calculate your unofficial handicap soon.