Our Experts Explain Handicapping


The USGA Handicap System™ enables golfers of all skill levels to compete on an equitable basis. USGA experts will help explain "The USGA Handicap System" manual – the USGA's handicapping equivalent of "The Rules of Golf" and address commonly asked questions. This section of the site will also features a Course Handicap™ calculator that allows players to convert their Handicap Index to the Course Handicap for any course that has been properly rated.


Latest Articles

Transferring A Scoring Record
Be the first to rate this article.
Posted: 10/21/2014 10:02:38 AM

Kelly Reilly, Coordinator, Handicap and Course Rating Administration  I’ve recently relocated to a new state/area and am no longer a member at my former golf club. What will happen to my scoring record? Just like a Handicap Index ® is portable from course to course and tee to tee so is a scoring record. The USGA Handicap Department frequently receives questions regarding the history of a scoring record ...

View Article

Posted: 7/23/2014 9:56:28 AM

Lee Rainwater, Assistant Manager, Handicap and Course Rating Administration How Does The Section 3-5/9-3c Adjustment Work When Players Compete From More Than Two Sets Of Tees?  A commonly misinterpreted topic of the USGA Handicap System™ is the adjustment that must be made when players compete  from a different USGA Course Rating™. ...

View Article

Posted: 3/18/2014 12:06:50 PM

Annie Pollock, Coordinator, Handicap & Course Rating Administration How does a player correct a score that was posted incorrectly? There are a few different individuals a golfer can reach out to: ...

View Article

A Penalty Score
Article Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Posted: 2/24/2014 9:34:38 AM

Annie Pollock, Coordinator, Handicap & Course Rating Administration What options does a Handicap Committee have if a score is not posted as soon as is practical?  If a player fails to post an acceptable score as soon as practical after completion of their round, the Handicap Committee has three options: ...

View Article

Posted: 12/17/2012 3:08:53 PM

Scott Hovde, Assistant Director, Handicap and Course Rating Administration What determines a tournament score in terms of posting for handicap purposes? The USGA Handicap System™ is based around the concept of a player’s potential, and scores made in a tournament setting can provide a very good indication of s ...

View Article

Posted: 11/16/2012 11:42:57 AM

Adam Karnish, Coordinator, Course Rating & Handicap Administration I have just played a round of golf can I post my score for handicap purposes? An accurate Handicap Index® is dependent on a complete scoring history and the assurance that all acceptable scores are posted for peer review. After the completi ...

View Article

Posted: 10/11/2012 5:18:49 PM

USGA Handicap & Course Rating Department How are the Course and Slope Rating adjusted for a mixed couples competition? The USGA receives inquiries each year regarding whether the Section 3-5 adjustment is still made in a mixed-team competition. The answer, of course, is yes. Section 3-5 is mandatory for an ...

View Article

Posted: 9/12/2012 11:46:52 AM

 Eric Lahman, Manager, Course Rating & Handicapping During the golf season, called the “active season” in the USGA Handicap System™, when scores are acceptable for handicap purposes, players may encounter fluctuating weather conditions—firm and fast conditions or soft and soggy conditions. Golf clubs sho ...

View Article

Posted: 8/20/2012 9:32:34 AM

Annie Pollock, Coordinator, Handicap & Course Rating Administration One of the basic premises of “The USGA Handicap System™” is that each player will try to make the best score at every hole in every round; the other is that each player will post every acceptable round for peer review. Even so, sometimes a m ...

View Article

Posted: 7/26/2012 9:15:53 AM

Scott Hovde, Manager, Course Rating and Handicap Education Do I post a score if played at a golf course outside the United States? It depends on where the golf is played, but likely the answer is yes. In order to post a score when playing outside the United States, the course (tee) must have both a U ...

View Article

Posted: 6/19/2012 12:16:54 PM

Adam Karnish , USGA When a player with a Handicap Index® (based on 18-hole scores) is competing in a nine-hole competition, the player must first halve their Handicap Index, round the result upwards to the nearest tenth, and convert it to a nine-hole Course HandicapTM using the nine-hole Slope Rating® from the Cou ...

View Article

Posted: 5/11/2012 12:14:01 PM

Cindy Cooper, Assistant Manager, Handicap and Club Licensing How do you apply a player's USGA Handicap Index when a competition overlaps a revision date or the player's Index changes before the next match or round is played? A Committee conducting a competition on a net basis should review Section 9-2 of the ...

View Article

Posted: 4/11/2012 10:36:15 AM

Eric Lahman, Manager, Course Rating & Handicapping.  Can you explain a situation where a player has played a hole in such a manner that the score would be sufficiently accurate to be used for handicap computation purposes? The USGA Handicap System ™ was updated this year for the next four-year cycle (2012- ...

View Article

Posted: 3/19/2012 1:38:38 PM

Annie Pollock, Coordinator, Handicap Administration & Club Licensing. Why is there a National Revision Schedule? On Jan. 1, 2012, the National Revision Schedule for the USGA Handicap System™ became mandatory in the United States. The National Revision Schedule requires all domestic golf clubs to revise each ...

View Article

Posted: 2/13/2012 9:55:20 AM

USGA Handicap System The USGA Handicap Department will be conducting the 2012 Handicap Seminars across the U.S. beginning in February and continuing through May. The USGA Handicap Department will be conducting the 2012 Handicap Seminars across the U.S.   beginning in February and continuing through May in a ...

View Article

Posted: 1/9/2012 10:17:39 AM

Scott Hovde, Manager, Course Rating & Handicap Education.  Where strokes are allocated on the scorecard can often lead to long arguments on the golf course. Part of the reason for this is the misconception of why the strokes are allocated in the first place. Strokes can be allocated based on match play or ...

View Article

Posted: 11/17/2011 2:19:08 PM

Adam Karnish, Coordinator, Handicap and Course Rating A popular format of play amongst weekend golfers is a “Sixes” competition. The competition consists of three separate six-hole competitions, usually in which a different format of play is applied for each of the six holes. The step-by-step procedure for calcula ...

View Article

Handicap Centennial
Article Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Posted: 10/18/2011 11:20:55 AM

Adam Karnish, Coordinator, Handicap and Course Rating Administration This month the USGA® will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the USGA Handicap System™ with a centennial dinner at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., the site where the Handicap System was officially adopted on Oct. 11, 1911. Un ...

View Article

Posted: 8/24/2011 5:01:48 PM

Cindy Cooper, USGA The USGA introduced a policy in 2007 stating that all players who wish to enter a USGA championship must meet the USGA Handicap eligibility requirements as listed on individual USGA championship entry forms. One of these eligibility requirements states that the entrant must ensure the following: ...

View Article

Posted: 7/19/2011 2:07:32 PM

Eric Lahman, Manager, Course Rating & Handicapping, USGA®.  The USGA Handicap Department has received a number of inquiries on the 'Tee It Forward' topic as it relates to the USGA Handicap System™.     The PGA of America ™ , in a joint initiative with the USGA, ...

View Article

Handicap Experts Explain
Article Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Posted: 6/8/2011 10:35:56 AM

USGA If a player does not finish a hole or is conceded a stroke, what should the player record for handicap posting purposes? If a player does not finish a hole or is conceded a stroke, what should the player record for handicap posting purposes?   The player should record his “most likely scor ...

View Article

Posted: 3/15/2011 1:29:20 PM

Adam Karnish, Coordinator, Handicap and Course Rating Administration Players competing from different USGA Course Ratings. One of the commonly misunderstood topics of the USGA Handicap System™ is the additional adjustment that needs to be applied for a competition in which players are competing from different ...

View Article

Posted: 2/7/2011 1:42:09 PM

Why do you have to be a member of a licensed golf club in order to obtain a USGA Handicap Index®? The cornerstone of the USGA Handicap System is the golf club. A USGA Handicap Index has been issued by a golf club since the inception of the USGA Handicap System in 1912. The golf club follows procedures ...

View Article

Posted: 1/18/2011 2:15:02 PM

A question we receive time to time is “why is my Course Handicap™ the same number from all three sets of tees at my golf course?” The simple answer is Course Handicap is merely the rounded whole number of strokes a player receives, which is adjusting to that tee’s USGA Course Rating™ only. A question we r ...

View Article

Posted: 5/27/2009 3:45:11 PM

The first step is to join a licensed golf club. The second is to post at least five 18 hole scores. Once you have posted 20 scores, your Handicap Index is calculated using your 10 best scores, relative to the ...

View Article

Posted: 5/12/2009 1:25:27 PM

The idea behind the system is to enable golfers of all levels to compete on a comparatively equal basis. There has been a USGA Handicap System in this country since 1912. Until 1987, one’s handicap gave a rough indication of ...

View Article

Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

Rolex image

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website, www.usopen.com, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit http://www.usopen.com/IBM

AmEx image

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit http://www.lexus.com/

AmEx image
American Express

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit www.americanexpress.com/entertainment

AmEx image