Fundamentals of Handicapping
Someone asks me what my handicap is when we are standing on the first tee. What do I tell them?
Start with your Handicap Index! This drives everything. Your Handicap Index forms the basis for your Course and Playing Handicap.
Course Rating, Slope Rating and par are used to determine your Course Handicap, which represents the number of strokes you need to play to par.
Your Playing Handicap is the actual number of strokes you give or receive for the round being played. It is typically the same number as your Course Handicap. However, one exception is when a term of the competition applies, such as a handicap allowance used for equity in certain formats of play. Another exception is for match play, where the player with the lowest Playing Handicap plays off zero strokes and the other players(s) receive the difference. (Rules 5.2, 6.1, 6.2 and Appendix C, Rules of Handicapping)