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The Simple Steps to get a Handicap in Golf

How do I get a Golf Handicap

If you’re playing more golf since 2020 (like the rest of the world), chances are you’ve wondered how to get a handicap in golf?

It’s a good question because there is some confusion on how to get one and how much it costs. If you’re a recreational player and don’t want to compete in a men’s or women’s club league (or other tournaments) you probably don’t need a handicap.

But if you’re in love with golf and want to take your game to the next level, a handicap is one of the most important things you can do. Today, we’ll cover these issues and more information to make it easier for you to get started. 

How to get a handicap in golf

Getting a handicap is easy and very affordable even if you’re a newer golfer. You can do the following when you have a handicap:

  • Track your progress through time.
  • Play against golfers with different handicaps. 
  • You can easily calculate your course handicap when you play on different golf courses. 

Key Takeaways

  • Handicaps allow you to track the progress of your game.
  • Handicapping in golf changed with the new system – the World Handicap System (WHS) in 2020.
  • You can establish a golf handicap in a multitude of ways even if you don’t belong to a private club.
  • Once you get a handicap you’ll receive a GHIN number to enter your scores online. You’ll need to renew your handicap services each year.

Continue reading to find out how to sign up for a handicap.

Join the USGA 

Joining the USGA or AGA in your area is the first step to getting a handicap index. This is the best option to get started if you’re brand new and don’t have a GHIN (golf handicap information network) number yet. 

A GHIN is the number that you are assigned and it’s how you enter your scores on-line.

You can then track your progress and post your adjusted gross scores after each round. It’s also needed when you enter into golf competitions as well. 

You will be directed to the USGA website when you join. tThe Allied Golf Association will take care of everything. Please note this is different than signing up for USGA initiatives and membership. 

Click here to learn now.

Join Your Country Club

If you are a member of a countryclub, you will receive a handicap in exchange for your membership fee. They might make you pay extra or they’ll just add it to your bill once per year when it’s time to renew your membership. 

Sign up for a Public Golf Club

If you don’t belong to a country club, no worries you can still get a handicap index established. You can also get a handicap index at most public courses or you can contact the regional golf association to find out more. It’s important to note you can get an official handicap with an online golf club too.

The fee is nominal – about $25 to $35 per year. You’ll need to renew this membership each year to maintain an active membership.

If you forget your membership renewal, your account is frozen but will not be deleted. To activate, simply sign back up and you’re allowed to start entering scores again. 

FAQs on Handicaps in Golf

Do you still have questions about how to establish a handicap for golf? Please read the answers to the most frequently asked questions below. 

What is my handicap if I shoot a 90? What if you shoot 100? 

It’s important to understand that handicap is potential, not so much your score.

If you shoot a 90, then your handicap is likely to be between 14-15. While it’s typically between 24-25 if you shoot 100. 

The handicap system takes your best 8 of 20 scores so it’s taking your best scores.

It’s also important that your handicap changes based on the course and tee boxes played. The more rounds you play, it will better understand your game.

Click here to learn about handicaps and golf work.

How to Get a Handicap in Golf

How do you get your handicap without joining any clubs? 

If you don’t belong to a private club, no worries, you can still get a handicap. You can sign up through your state’s website or go to a local golf course and get set up as well. 

What is a Course Handicap?

Each golf course will have a slope rating and a course rating which will affect your official handicap. For example, if you’re a 10 handicap but the course is more challenging and has a 73.0, then your handicap at that particular course is an 11.

Click here to learn about slope rating for golf.

What is a bogey player? 

A bogey player is someone who averages a bogey (+1) per hole, which equates a 90 because most courses are par 72. Your handicap is normally around 14, since handicap represents potential rather than just an average score.

But the course rating is also a factor.

How do I calculate my handicap index?

For handicap purposes I’d let the computer do the math for you as it’s a complex formula.

Once you receive your GHIN (Golf Handicap Index Number), you can enter the scores for each round, including the tee boxes and dates. The system will do all the handicapping and update your index every night.

My Experience

You can get a handicap whether you belong to a country club or just play at different public courses. I’ve had one for 20 years and it’s a great way to keep and track your scores and abilities over time. 

If you’re an avid golfer (or want to become one), you need a handicap.

It will make it easier for you to play in matches. Many tournaments also require golf handicaps. Make sure to log all rounds into the handicap system so you don’t get coined a “sandbagger” by your fellow golf buddies. 

Final Thoughts about How to Get a Golf Handicap

Handicaps for golfers are easy to obtain and should be available to all serious players.

You can easily compete against other players for a low price and learn a great deal about your game. New golfers are encouraged to sign up as soon as they can and post their scores in order to establish a score.

Most golf tournaments also require that you enter your GHIN number when you register. This allows golfers to be grouped according to their skill level.  

Hopefully you can keep practicing and playing to hit your golf goals and lower your handicap.