How to Convert Golf Indexes to Handicaps


Not only is golf a game of skill, it is an ongoing process of managing errors, following etiquette and understanding rules. One of the most mystifying set of numbers in golf is the United States Golf Association (USGA) Handicap System. The purpose of the system is to make the game enjoyable by enabling players of all skill levels to compete on an equitable basis. Given that nobody scores consistently in golf, the USGA Handicap System provides a course handicap for every player, and continuously adjusts a player's handicap index up or down depending on his performance on all courses.

Index to Handicap Conversion

  • Register with your "home" club to become a member of the USGA. Your home club or player's association will issue you a unique USGA member number and a handicap index, which is a number from 0 to 36 taken to one decimal place, such as 14.2.

  • Locate the chart at your home club titled the "Course Handicap Table." Find your handicap index on the left side of the chart and its correlating course handicap on the right. For example, if your handicap index is between 13.4 and 14.1, your course handicap will be 17 at "Course A." Every golf course has its own table depending on its USGA slope and rating (difficulty). Also, there is always a separate Course Handicap Table for men and women.

  • Post your score for every round of golf you play to ensure your handicap index stays correctly adjusted. Your handicap index goes wherever you go and you will always use it to determine your handicap on any given course. The easier the course, the lower your handicap will be on that course. For example, if your handicap index is 13.7, you might play to a 17 handicap on an easy course and a 19 handicap on a more difficult course. Always check the club's chart before teeing off.

Tips & Warnings

  • Golf is a game of honor, so post your score correctly every time you play. Ask the course pro for help in posting an incomplete round.

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