What Is a Good Golf Handicap? (Updated Handicap Index Calculation)


As a beginner, you might be wondering what is a handicap index. And even more so, what is a good golf handicap index for an average golfer and an avid golfer?

For golfers who are beginning to get serious with their golf game, the concept of handicap can be a little confusing. To help you understand it better, our golfers will explain everything in this guide.

The Good Golf Handicap Score You Want

To go straight into the answer, the lower the handicap score, the better. A good handicap is typically lower than the average golf handicap, but more on this later.

Your ultimate goal is to achieve a lower score than the other golfers you’re competing or playing with.

That’s why there’s such a term as a single-digit handicap, a zero handicap, or even a negative golf handicap because a professional or a scratch golfer can finish the course on par, or in other words, they’re able to finish the course with fewer strokes.

golf handicap score

But of course, knowing this is insufficient. There’s so much to golf handicaps that need to be explained, and so the next sections will guide you to understanding what a good handicap is.

What Is the Golf Handicap System For?

Like with any other sports, all players – or in this case, golfers – have different skill sets.

When it comes to the playing field, it’s hard to keep score when you don’t have a fixed system that can fairly measure your playing average and score in proportion to the match’s par course and relative difficulty.

So, if you’re on a competitive course against many golfers, how will your scores be judged fairly? What if you want to improve your strokes and score better when you go out to play on golf courses?

usga handicap system

The answer to these questions is the handicap system. You’ll have a tally of your average score, and with some computations, you’ll get your golf handicap index.

Your golf handicap will be the numerical value that represents you as a good golfer on the golf course you’re playing.

The Handicap Formula: How Do You Compute Your Handicap Index?

So, now that you know how to use your handicap index with the system (which is a worldwide system now), the next question is how to get your golf handicap index.

The World Handicap System (WHS), implemented in January of 2020, follows this formula:

Handicap Index (8 out of 20)

Always remember the “average 8 out of 20” phrase. This phrase isn’t anything official, it’s just for our team to remember it better:

Average of 8 best scores from the 20 most recent games

handicap index explained

Basically, you go back to your 20 most recent golf games. Looking at your scores, pick out the best 8 scores and then average them. That’s your personal index composed of your best score.

We also want to emphasize this common mistake by starting golfers: your average score is not your handicap index – it’s the average of the 8 best scores out of 20.

Course Handicap

To apply your index in a golf match or a game, you have to compute your golf handicap index with the details and difficulty of the courses. This makes the judgment of winners fair since all courses have their own difficulty levels, so you measure the ratings of both factors.

The slope rating, course rating, and par of the golf course are usually found in your scorecard.

handicap index

Can I Have an Official Handicap Score?

We know what you’re thinking – it’s quite a hassle for professional golfers to keep computing their handicaps.

Here enters the question of accuracy, golf course factors, and important considerations during actual golf competitions.

And yes, there’s such a thing as an official handicap for golfers. It’s often a paid membership and is usually available when you join a professional golfers’ club.

If you’re looking into becoming an avid golfer and aim to play more seriously, it’s best to have an official handicap since it’ll be a more accurate asset in tournaments and games.

What Is the Average Golf Handicap?

The average handicap differs among men and women. There are also different averages considered among most golfers since several relative factors (i.e., slope, difficulty, par, etc).

usga system

But generally, the USGA average golfer has a handicap range of 15-20. A handicap score of below 15 is already considered a better golfer than the average player.

The Average Golf Handicap Distinction Among Genders are as Follows:

But certainly, this is just the computed handicap average from the data we have and doesn’t mean that females are expected to score more badly.

There’s no best determinant of what a good golf handicap is, but scoring lower than the average handicap is already a good handicap score.

Again, your ultimate aim is to improve from an average or bogey golfer to a scratch player.

playing with taylormade noodle golf balls

The Difference Between the New Golf WHS and the USGA Golf Handicap

While the USGA system and index were beneficial for golfers over the years, the WHS definitely improved the golf game for most of us.

So what were the major differences between the two systems? Basically, they incorporated features and considerations that affect the way you perform – so your handicaps will be as accurate as possible. Here are some of the best ones:

Daily Revisions

The new WHS now requires golfers to update their handicaps so they will always be updated. This is especially helpful for a golfer who plays in tournaments and competitions.

Weather Conditions

You can now incorporate the unprecedented weather conditions that affect your golf performance. Sometimes, we can’t deny that the bad weather causes a bad round, and this new system recognizes that.

Ladies golf club sets

Records Best Golf Score

The new system recognizes that and makes big adjustments to your score if you achieve a good or exceptional golf score. This will make it easier for you to achieve a good handicap score!

Online Calculators You Can Try

Some online calculators are free and easy to use. We’ll list some of them below:


There are also trusted apps that you can download:

swingU app


So, what is a good golf handicap? Hopefully, we were able to clarify what a good handicap is and what makes a good golfer. Use this as a way to practice, practice, and practice!

For sure, even the professional golfers you see in Golf Digest or playing on the PGA Tour [1] became the best golfers through a lot of training. You can certainly achieve a good handicap, be a good golf player, and in no time become the best scratch golfer yourself.