How do we calculate Golf Handicaps

Get a Golf Handicap

If you are looking to get a golf handicap then check out our free online golf handicap service which automatically calculates your golf handicap and provides a recognised golf handicap certificate.  The free service will track your scores for free for unlimited rounds on multiple courses and provide a tracked updates golf handicap.

For more information on our golf handicap service click here.

Golfshake Golf Handicap provided by Golfscoretracker

The Golfshake system currently calculates golf handicaps for the UK and Ireland similar to the specifications used by UK golf clubs and for the US using an similar system to the USGA.  All other countries use our UK method although further systems for other countries will be added soon including EGA.

With over 1 million rounds tracked online we have provided 1000s of golf handicap cards and golf handicap certificates through our Handicap Service to golfers who have used to play golf courses all over the world. To find out more about our golf handicap service visit here.

Calculation of the Intitial Golf Handicap

The following requirements are needed to allow our system to calculate your golf handicap :

  • The round played must be 18 holes.
  • The course/tee played must have a SSS (Standard Scratch Score) stored on the system.
  • A golf handicap will only be set once 3 rounds have been added, based on the above criteria.
  • Once the first 3 rounds are added, the handicap will be calculated as an average of these rounds.
  • Your golf handicap will be adjusted accordingly for each round thereafter.

The handicapping system we use is based on your current game performance. Your last round score will generally affect your golf handicap.

How We Calculate the Golf Handicap

1. Each individual hole score is first adjusted to remove any bad holes.

Unlike The ESC under USGA , the UK system allows (nett +2) maximum for men and (nett +3) for women, sometimes known as the nett double bogey rule, on any hole. 

For example if a male player of handicap 17 shoots 8 on a par 4 SI (stroke index) 1, the maximum score allowed for that hole is 7.  Another way to understand the adjusted score is to think of it as the first score where no stableford (britsh format) points are earned.

2. Adjusted score is compared to the SSS (Standard Scratch Score) with playing handicap

Standard scratch for the course somewhat resembles Course Rating in the USGA system. ( 70,71,72 etc.) although the SSS system is not a stringent application of a course review/rating system.

The gross score is adjusted, based on the first point (max nett double bogey), to become an adjusted gross score.

The Adjusted Gross Score less playing handicap less Standard Scratch then provides the basis of the golf handicap system.  A negative value is playing below your handicap and postive would indicate above your handicap.

3. The following golf handicap categories are widely used to provide the basis of handicap reducations and increases :

Category Handicap Range Buffer Zone Reduction per Shot Increase per Round
1 0.1 - 5.4 +1 -0.1 +0.1
2 5.5 - 12.4 +2 -0.2 +0.1
3 12.5 - 20.4 +3 -0.3 +0.1
4 20.5 - 28.0 +4 -0.4 +0.1
5 28.1 - 36.0 +5 -0.5 +0.1

Working example;

  • Work out the Rounds Adjusted Score ie Gross score with 'nett double bogey' adjustments
  • Determine the Rounds Net Score. e.g. Adjusted Gross Score - Current golf handicap
  • Determine what Category this Golfer falls into based on current handicap.
  • If Net Score is greater than Golfers Category Buffer Zone then simply add 0.1 to Golfers Handicap
  • If Net Score Ranges from 0 to Buffer zone handicap is then unchanged.
  • If Net score is negative then for each shot less than 0, the Golfers Handicap is reduced by the amount specified by the category he/she is currently in.

Your starting handicap of 24 puts you in Category 4. The following are the adjustments made to your handicap based on subsequent rounds submitted :

Score SSS Gross Score Hcp Nett Hcp Score Hcp Adj New Handicap
93 72 21 24 -3 3* 0.4=1.2 22.8
94 71 23 22.8 (23) 0 no adjustment 22.8
96 71 24 22.8 (23) +1 0 (within buffer zone +4) 22.8
101 71 30 22.8 (23) +7 +0.1(outside buffer zone +4) 22.9
89 72 17 22.9 (23) -6 6*0.4=2.4 20.5
91 72 19 20.5(21) -2

this moves the player from cat 4 to cat 3

1*0.4=0.4 so 20.5-0.4=20.2 (now cat 3)





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