Handicaps are used to measure a golfers ability, and also forms the basis of scoring in golf. All golfers are required to have a handicap, and it is possible to improve your handicap over time. The lower the handicap, the better a golfer is deemed to be.
Different countries rely on different handicap systems, however, the R&A and USGA have announced that a combined World Handicap System is to be launched in 2020.
A player will need to play at least 10 rounds of golf in order to establish a handicap. The most accurate handicap will be developed from playing the same course numerous times.
As a starting point to calculating a handicap, one needs to remember that the scoring in golf works by the number of shots it takes to get the ball into the hole. Each hole is allocated a “par”, being the ideal number of shots it should take a player to sink the ball.
Your handicap will dictate what your expected score on a course should be. For example, if your handicap in 10, and the total score for an 18 hole course is 75, your expected score would be 85, or ten over par.
“Scratch” golfers, with a handicap of 0 or less, are expected to score on par or less.
So, in order to determine your handicap, you must determine how many shots over par your score for an entire course is. If a course score is 72, and you score 90, four games in a row, then logically your handicap is 18. Handicaps and scores are not stagnant though, and your handicap will change depending on the average calculated for your games. The more games you play, the more data there is to calculate your handicap, and as mentioned above, it is usually required that a player play at least 10 games before establishing a handicap.