The USGA Handicap System™ enables golfers of all skill levels to compete on an equitable basis. This section of the site will help golfers understand why having a Handicap Index® is important. There are links to "The USGA Handicap System" manual, the USGA's handicapping equivalent of "The Rules of Golf", and a Course Handicap™ calculator to allow players to convert their Handicap Index to the Course Handicap for any course that has been properly rated. Articles and resources are available for anyone interested in starting a golf club or for current Handicap Committee chairmen who need assistance in maintaining handicaps for their respective clubs. The current version of the USGA Handicap System went into effect on Jan. 1, 2012, and the next revision will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016. Any modifications to the System are noted on this Web site. 





Browse the 2012-2015 Rules



Within each section, all defined terms are in italics and are listed alphabetically in Section 2 - Definitions.

Handicap controls, a series of checks and balances, ensure that a Handicap Index will accurately measure a player's potential ability. These handicap controls prevent scores that are not representative of a player's potential ability from distorting the player's Handicap Index. The following handicap controls are incorporated into the USGA Handicap System to produce a reliable and equitable Handicap Index.

11-1. Golf Club Handicap Committee

An essential element of the USGA Handicap System is the Handicap
Every golf club utilizing the USGA Handicap System must have a Handicap Committee to ensure the integrity of the USGA Handicap SystemThe Handicap Committee sees that scores are posted, all elements of the USGA Handicap System are followed, and the integrity of each Handicap Index issued is maintained.

(See Section 8.)

11-2. Peer Review

See definition of peer review. 

11-3. Worst 10 Handicap Differentials Disregarded

A player's worst 10 of the last 20 Handicap Differentials are not used in computing the Handicap Index since these scores do not represent the player's potential ability. (See Section 10.)

11-4. Fewer than 20 Scores

A player who has posted fewer than 20 scores has a Handicap Index that
is based on a lower percentage of scores than the 50 percent ideally used (best 10 of the last 20). The accuracy and reliability of the USGA Handicap System improves as the number of acceptable scores approaches 20. A handicap based on 20 acceptable scores is more representative of a player's potential ability than one based on fewer than 20. (See Section 10.)

11-5. Equitable Stroke Control

See definition of Equitable Stroke Control. 

11-6. Reduction of Handicap Index Based on Exceptional Tournament Scores

An alternate calculation is used to determine the Handicap Index of a player who has two or more eligible tournament scores with tournament score differentials at least 3.0 better than the player's Handicap Index. (See Section 10-3.)

11-7. Handicap Index Adjustment or Withdrawal

The Handicap Committee is authorized to modify or withdraw a Handicap Index of a player who does not return all acceptable scores, or does not otherwise observe the spirit of the USGA Handicap System. The Handicap Committee has the authority to increase the Handicap Index of a player who, because of exceptional circumstances, has a Handicap Index that is too low. The Handicap Committee must review a Handicap Index that is modified, reduced, or withdrawn at each revision. (See Sections 8-4d, 8-4e, and 10-3e.)

11-8. Penalty Score

See definition of penalty score. (See Section 8-4b.)

11-9. Ratings Issued by Authorized Golf Association

All courses must be rated in accordance with USGA approved procedures by a course rating team representing an authorized golf association. Each Handicap Index is determined on the same basis if every USGA Course Rating is uniform.

11-10. Meeting Licensing Requirements

Only a golf club or authorized golf association that issues and maintains each Handicap Index in full accordance with the USGA Handicap System, as described in the USGA Handicap System manual, and is licensed by the USGA for this purpose, may use the term Handicap Index and identify it as such on handicap cards or elsewhere. A golf club and golf association must obtain written authorization from the USGA in order to use the USGA's marks and to issue a Handicap Index.

11-11. USGA Handicap Department

The USGA Handicap Department may be contacted at:

United States Golf Association
Golf House, P.O. Box 708, Far Hills, New Jersey 07931
Telephone: (908) 234-2300
Facsimile: (908) 234-1513
E-mail: hdcpquestions@usga.org
Web site: www.usga.org 

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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.

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

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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

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