Understanding Golf HandicapsWhen starting out as a beginner in golf, nothing is more confusing than trying to understand golf handicaps. In this article I want to explain handicaps in a simple and easy way so as you can fully understand how they work. By the end of this article you should know everything there is to know about them.
What Is The Purpose of A Golf Handicap?This is all about levelling the playing field for golfers of mixed abilities. Some people are great golfers and some are not. If that were left alone, then playing a round of golf with someone much better than you would always end in the same result. That is, you would never win. Not only would that be pretty depressing but it would not actually be much fun for either player.
That is why handicaps were introduced in the first place, simply to even the playing field, and make a round of golf interesting for everyone playing.
In golf the lower your handicap is then the better player you actually are. If you had someone with a handicap of 10 playing against someone with a handicap of 20, then the player on 10 would be the better golfer.
A really simple way to understand the system of handicaps is this. It is, based on your current form and ability, the number of strokes you would be expected to play a particular course in.
The Golf Course and Handicaps
I always think an example helps to make this clear. All golf courses will have what is called a recommended number of shots to complete the round. Let's assume that an 18 hole golf course has a Par of 72. Someone with a handicap of 8 would be expected to complete this course in 80 shots (72+8) Someone you play with could have a handicap of 16 so they would be expected to complete the course in 88 shots (72+16)
Therefore two players with different handicaps (mixed abilities) could play a round of golf. If each played to their handicaps then as you can see, the round of golf could be very competitive. If on the other hand there were no handicaps, then in theory the person with a handicap of 8 would win every time.
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How To Get A Handicap In Golf?If you have never played golf before then you will not have a handicap. No-one has a handicap when starting out in golf. To get a handicap the rules of golf state that you need to play at least 10 rounds of golf. Your score card must also be signed by you and by a playing partner.
When you have these completed you can then hand those cards into your club and a scoring committee will let you know what your handicap is. Your handicap is worked out at 96% of the average of the best 10 of your previous 20 scores. If that sounds confusing, don't worry as you get a card that explains how this is worked out.
The process for working this out gets really complex. You don't need to worry about it too much and the important thing to know is that it is applied to everyone, so we know it is fair.