A Golf Organization Created by Women Golfers for Women Golfers

Handicap FAQ

Q  How many scores does it take to establish a Handicap Index?

A player needs a minimum of five 18-hole scores to calculate a Handicap Index (or 10 nine-hole scores).

Q  How is a Handicap Index calculated?

For each score posted, a handicap differential is calculated. The formula is:
Handicap Differential = (Adjusted Gross score – USGA/SCGA Course Rating) x 113 / USGA/SCGA Slope Rating

Using this example:
Bill’s adjusted gross score was 95 at a course with 73.5/130 (Course Rating/Slope Rating)
Adjusted Gross Score 95.0
Minus the course rating (73.5)
Result = 21.5

Multiply Result by standard Slope (113) of a golf course: 21.5 X 113 = 2429.5
Divide by the slope of the tees played: 2429.5/130 = 18.688 Handicap Differential = 18.7 (rounded)

Once your score file consists of 20 scores, your ten lowest differentials are added together, divided by ten and then multiplied by 96%, the result being your Index. You do not round the result. Your ten lowest differentials are used, not necessarily the ten lowest scores in your score file.

A player needs a minimum of five scores to calculate a Handicap Index. If a player has at least five but fewer than 20 differentials available, the Handicap Index will be computer as follows:

 Scores Available  = Differentials to be used
 5 or 6  =  Lowest 1
 7 or 8  =  Lowest 2
 9 or 10  =  Lowest 3
 11 or 12  =  Lowest 4
 13 or 14  =  Lowest 5
 15 or 16  =  Lowest 6
 17  =  Lowest 7
 18  =  Lowest 8
 19  =  Lowest 9

Q  What do the different letter(s) mean next to my scores?

The letter(s) immediately following each adjusted gross score indicate(s) specific aspects of a score within a player’s scoring record. The following is a list of possible score types:

A = Away
P = Penalty
C = Combined Nines
T = Tournament

Q  What does an “R” mean next to my Handicap Index?

The “R” signifies that a “reduction” has been placed on your Handicap Index. The USGA has a section in its Handicap System that automatically reduces the Handicap Indexes of players who consistently score better in competitions than in informal play. To be used, the procedure requires that a player have two or more eligible tournament scores and a minimum of two tournament score differentials which are at least three strokes better than the player’s current USGA Handicap Index.

Q  I received my GHIN number and posted a couple of scores, but my scoring record shows NH. Why?

Establishing a USGA Handicap Index is not something that happens instantly. Many golfers not familiar with handicapping mistakenly believe that your Handicap Index should change every time you post a score, but that is simply not the case. According to the rules of the USGA Handicap System, first, you must first post five 18-hole scores or ten 9-hole scores to establish an index–Until you have that quantity posted, your scoring record will show as ‘NH’ or No Handicap. Second, you must also go through what we call a revision (or recalculation), as well. We revise (recalculate) Handicap Indexes on the 1st and 15th of every month according to the National Revision Schedule, which you may review via our web site. There is also a stated cutoff time by which you must post for those scores to be included in the calculation. For example, if the next revision date is on the 15th, all scores must by posted by 8 pm pst , the night prior to the revision date, to be included in that recalculation. Basically, you will post scores and nothing changes until the handicaps are revised or recalculated on the 1st or 15th. In the meantime, even though your scoring record shows as “NH,” it does not mean your scores are not there. To review scores that have been posted, pull up your record by going to “Handicap Lookup,” enter your 7 digit SDCWGA/GHIN# in the space provided (with no dashes) hit the “Lookup” button and once the subsequent screen comes up, click on the tab titled “RECENT SCORES.” There you can see scores posted since the last revision.

Q  What is Equitable Stroke Control?

Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) is a procedure whereby abnormally high individual hole scores are adjusted downward prior to the score being posted. ESC sets a maximum number that a golfer can post on any hole, depending on the golfer’s Course Handicap (not his Handicap Index). Effective Feb. 1, 1998, individual hole scores will be adjusted for handicap purposes per the following table:

Course Handicap
Max Number on Any Hole
9 or less
Double Bogey
10 - 19
40 or more