What Is A Good Handicap In Golf?

It is likely that many golfers would have somewhat differing opinions on what a “good” handicap was.

My own opinion would be that anyone with a single-figure handicap should be able to call themselves a good golfer.

Having a handicap of nine or lower means you must be shooting around 80 or better more often than not. Being able to regularly shoot scores this low suggests the player has some measure of control in most areas of their game.

It also means they are achieving a reasonable level of consistency if they are able to maintain this handicap, particularly under the World Handicap System (WHS).

What is a good handicap in golf

What Is The Average Handicap In Golf?

Before you can work out what a good handicap is you need to have some idea of the bad or at least the average.

According to statistics from the USGA, the average handicap for men in the United States is 14.2. Their figures also show that around 29% of players have an index of less than 10! 

I find this fairly surprising as I can’t think of any club I’ve been a member of in the UK where a third of the members were single-figure players. Clearly, there must be a lot of golf clubs in the US with a lot of very good golfers!

In England the head of handicapping and course rating, Gemma Hunter revealed the average handicap for men was 17.1. Clearly, Englishmen need to improve their games to catch up with their American cousins!

Down under in Australia gents have an average handicap of 16.93.

Obviously, these figures only relate to players with official handicaps (generally they are club members). There are probably almost as many golfers who don’t belong to a club and therefore have no official handicap. 

I don’t think anyone would be in any doubt if these players started entering cards for handicap purposes the average handicaps would shoot up as a lot of these unhandicapped players probably struggle to break 100!

For those of you that haven’t reached single figures yet you could argue that you are a good golfer if your handicap index is less than the average for your country.

What Is A Good Handicap For Lady Golfers?

The average handicap index for ladies in the USA is 27.5 according to the USGA. Less than 5% of ladies have managed to achieve a single-figure handicap. By those measures, any lady managing to achieve a handicap of 18 or below could probably consider herself “good”.

In England, ladies manage an average of 27.2, while Golf Australia calculates an average of 26.93 for their ladies.

What Is A Respectable Golf Handicap?

I would suggest that bogey golf would be the minimum requirement to be considered respectable. Historically this would have meant a handicap of 18 to allow you to drop an average of one shot per hole. Under the WHS the definition of a bogey golfer is an 18 handicap man or a 24 handicap lady.

What Is A Good Handicap For A Beginner?

A realistic target for a beginner would be to try and get a handicap of 18 (24 for women). For a first handicap, a more likely index would be something in the 20s (30s for women). 

What Is The Best Handicap In Golf?

While there is a limit on how high an index you can have there is no limit to how low your handicap could go. Assuming you play well enough of course!

While most of us are lucky enough to be able to deduct our handicap from our final score the best players in the amateur game have to add their handicap on!

The computer software used to store handicaps would probably treat them as negative numbers to distinguish them from the handicaps of us hackers!

Effectively plus golfers have negative handicaps.

Back in the 1990s, Sergio Garcia had the lowest handicap in Europe when he was playing off +6 before turning professional. Tiger Woods managed to reach a handicap of +8 before joining the paid ranks.

Clearly, times have changed since then! In a recent amateur event at Saunton G.C. (The West of England Championship), there were several players with handicaps of +6 and one started the week with a handicap of +7! Is the new WHS system easier to game to get a low handicap perhaps? Given that only 5 rounds were below par out of about 300 and almost all of the field had plus handicaps then maybe it is.

Here’s a quick summary of how to work out a handicap index.

What Is A Good Handicap In Golf: Summary

While most of us can only dream of even getting to scratch I think with a bit of effort and application a single figure handicap is actually reachable for the majority of people. I managed to maintain a handicap of 5 for many years despite not being athletic or having great ball striking.

What do you think?

Do you need help working out your handicap index?

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