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How to Compute Golf Handicaps

Updated April 17, 2017

Golfers use a handicap, which measures the number of strokes over par a player shoots on average. For example, a golfer with a handicap of 2 would shoot a 72 on average on a golf course with a par of 70. This evens the playing field among golfers of varying ability levels.

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Play at least five rounds of 18-hole golf and tally your score at the end of each round. You can play at a different golf course each time. You can use more than five rounds of golf to compute your handicap for a more accurate result.

Subtract the golf course rating for each course from your total score at that course. A golf course rating conveys the difficulty of that course. This is an important step, because you will have a better score at an easier course than a difficult course. Ask someone in the club house for their course's rating.

Multiply each result you get in Step 2 by 113, which is the number used to compute handicaps by the U.S. Golf Association.

Divide your results from Step 3 by the course's slope rating. The slope is different than the course rating that you used in Step 2.

Multiply the lowest of the five numbers from Step 4 by 0.96. Drop any numbers after the decimal. This final number is your golf handicap.

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Things You'll Need

  • Scorecard

About the Author

Vanessa Padgalskas was born and raised in Spokane, Wash., and currently resides in Portland, Ore. Padgalskas graduated from American University in 2007 with degrees in international studies and economics. She holds a law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School.

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