Average Golf Handicap (Detailed Explanation With All Stats!)

Last Updated on October 21, 2023 by Alex PT

The average golf handicap for men is 14.2 and for women is 27.5, according to the United States Golf Association (USGA). This means that the average golfer shoots around 86 for men and 101 for women on an 18-hole course.

The table below contains the average handicap index and golfer with a recognized handicap index in the men and women category. 

CriteriaMen Category Women Category 
Average Handicap Index14.227.5
Golfers with Recognized Handicap Index1.9 million 500,000

Golf Handicap Explained

Golf Handicap Explained

The USGA’s official terminology is a “Handicap Index” even though it is commonly called a handicap. The handicap index was formulated so that golfers’ abilities relative to par can be measured and documented. The handicapping system makes the game of golf more unique it helps players of different skill levels to compete against each other. The idea of a handicap system is to allocate a particular number of golfers with different experiences, abilities, and skills. 

The handicap system does work for the most part, even if its process might seem a little complicated. Just like we said earlier, the handicap system makes golf the only sport where amateur players can confidently compete with skilled players and have even and fair results. The rules of handicap in golf are consistent and applied to all players

The History Of Handicap System In Golf

The History Of Handicap System In Golf

The history of the handicap system dates back almost to the advent of this classic sport. In the 17th century, Thomas Kincaid was the first to record handicap systems in golf. Thomas composed widely on the subject of the game during his time at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland where he studied medicine. He simply defined a handicap in golf as a numerical value used to measure the ability level of players based on their recent performance. 

According to him, a handicap is the same as the number of strokes that a golfer can over par. This number is expected to decrease as the skill of the golfer increases. When a player makes par or less on any given course will have a zero handicap or a scratch. Keep in mind that this will generally vary from course to course so that there will be an account for the difficulty of each course. 

Over the last decade, the handicapping system has evolved and seen a lot of modifications. Take, for example, computers are now used in the process of managing handicaps in golf. 

Average USGA Handicap Index For Golfers

As a golfer, it is a smart move to know your handicap index as it helps you compare yourself to other golfers. Also, it helps you track your progress and performance in the game. There’ll be room for fair and even competition when it is possible to compare the handicap index of several players in a tournament or a single group

Let’s make use of the USGA and their data from the World Handicap System to help with the insights of the average USGA handicap index. In America, there are about 2.4 million golfers who have a recognized handicap index. 

According to the USGA, the United States has an average of 14.2 handicap index among golfers. There is approximately 40,000 scratch or plus who have either a plus handicap or a handicap index of 0.0 among those 2.4 million golfers with a recognized index. 

Factors like the gender of the players break down the average handicap index. The average handicap index for women is 27.5 and 14.2 for men. The number of women and men who carry the handicap index is a major factor in the disparity. 


Out of the 2.4 million American golfers with a recognized handicap index, only about 500,000 are women, while about 1.9 million men have a handicap index. Golfers will be on the good side when they have a good idea of where they stand in the community of golfers in the United States.

How Is The Handicap Calculated? 

The golf handicap is calculated by scoring the last 20 rounds of a golfer individually, then finding the average of his 10 best rounds and multiplying it by .96. Check the scorecard and discover the course rating and slope from the tees played to know your handicap strokes from a single round of golf. Then, subtract the course rating from the score, divide it by the course slope, and multiply by 113. 

What Is A Course Rating? 

What a scratch golfer is expected to shoot on the round from those tees is denoted by a score called the course rating. Normally, rating numbers are close to par for the golf course. The thing is, if the rating number is below par, then the course is much easier. However, if the rating number is higher, then the course is more difficult. 


When you multiply the slope of a line drawn through golfers’ expected scores in all handicap levels by 100, you’ll get the course slope. The average slope is 113, and this means that a scratch golfer would be expected to average 2.26 strokes better than a 2-handicap, and 1.13 strokes better than a 1-handicap. When the course slope is under 113, it means the course is much easier and friendlier. However, when the course slope is above 113, it simply means the course is more difficult.  

Implementing Handicap

One can only assess golf handicaps by considering the disparity in the handicap ratings of golfers and deducting the number of strokes accepted before the commencement of the round. Some golfers utilize a scaled system involving a golfer to receive, for instance, 75% of the disparity, rounded up, while others give a stroke for all the stroke disparity in handicap. If the slope index rating of a hole that’s normally found on the scoreboard is less than or equal to the number of strokes they are being given, then the golfer will receive a stroke in the hole. 

What Is Considered A Good Handicap In Golf?

One can say that a good golf handicap for the male category is 10 or less. You should be capable of shooting somewhere around 82 if you have a handicap index of 10 or less. If you shoot in the low 80s, you’re certainly better than other average players, but not as good as a scratch player. 

Is A 20 Golf Gandicap Bad?

No! It’s considerably good. The highest golf handicap allowed by the USGA is 40 for women and 36 for men. So, any golfer with a handicap above 20 is considered a good golf handicap. Not the best, but still good! 

Is Handicap My Average Score? 

No! A golfer’s average score is not the same as their handicap index. Generally, a handicap index of a player looks at his recent scores and can vary depending on the difficulty of the course which is normally expressed in the course slope and rating (the two common numbers displayed on the scorecard). 

The Review Committee of a golf course normally regulates the rating and slope, which determines the zero handicap index that a scratch golfer would need to score on the course. According to the USGA, the relative difficulty of a set of tees on a course for a golfer who averages about 1-par per hole or one bogey per hole compared to a scratch golfer compared to a player who can simply play to a course handicap of zero is represented by a numerical value is called Slope Rating.

 So, the handicap index is generated by the consideration of course difficulty along with score performance. One can simply say that the handicap index number is the numerical value of what a golfer can reasonably expect to score on a normal day on the course.   

Final Thoughts

There might not be a definitive definition of a good golf handicap, but golfers within the single digits are pretty much there. You should be considered good by most standards if you’re in the 10 to 15 handicap range. Golfers who are in the middle or higher handicap range shouldn’t be discouraged. Having a low handicap in the game of golf is all about experience and practice. These things don’t happen overnight. 

No professional golfer becomes good without years of dedication and consistency. We’ve come to the end of this informative article. We hope you were able to find good and reliable resources in your quest to know the average golf handicap. If you have any questions or comments about the article topic, don’t hesitate to contact us. Thanks!



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