What is a high handicap in golf (Detailed Guide)

Every golfer has been through a time when he has had a high handicap. If you’re a newbie, and your game hasn’t been as consistent as others, then you might have it too.

When your scores seem to be higher than your peers, you begin to wonder, What is a high handicap in golf, and how does it affect my performance? Don’t worry, I’m here to answer all your handicap confusions. With years of experience in fighting handicaps, I’ve gained a deep understanding of its effects on your game.

In golf, a handicap is a numerical measure of a player’s ability that indicates their potential to score above par on a course. It is a system designed to level the playing field and allow golfers of different skill levels to compete on an equal basis.

But sometimes, having a high handicap becomes a source of frustration. However, it’s important to remember that a high handicap isn’t unbeatable. With the right knowledge and strategies, you can improve your game and gradually lower your handicap.

In this guide, you’ll learn about the ins and outs of a high handicap, how to avoid it, and how to improve your game.  So, let’s get started!

What is a high handicap in Golf?

What is a high handicap in golf

In golf, a high handicap is a term used to describe a golfer with a handicap rating of over 20. It means that such a golfer is allowed to subtract 20 or more strokes from their scorecard during a round, making them a high-handicapper.

The handicap system is a vital tool for creating a fair playing field. It ensures that players of different experience levels can compete evenly. Whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate golfer, the handicap system allows you to enjoy the game.

So, if you play golf for leisure or networking purposes only, this inclusivity is in your favor.

Is a high handicap in golf good?

Having a high handicap in golf is not considered good or desirable. It indicates that a golfer typically scores more strokes above par and may need extra strokes to complete a hole or a round.

While a high handicap doesn’t necessarily mean a golfer is not skilled, it does suggest that there is room for improvement in their performance. Lowering one’s handicap often comes with practice, and gaining experience on the course.

A lower handicap generally means a golfer is more consistent and performs closer to or below par. Many golfers strive to improve their game and lower their handicaps over time.

What is considered a good handicap in golf?

A good handicap is typically an index of ten or less. To achieve this, focus on improving accuracy and ball-striking skills.

If you shoot an average of 90 or 80, your handicap is likely to be around 18. It’s important to understand that this handicap may not remain consistent across different courses. If you want a more uniform handicap, you should convert your handicap to a portable handicap index, which allows you to calculate your actual handicap for specific courses.

Calculating your handicap in golf involves a few essential steps. The USGA (United States Golf Association) provides guidelines for handicap calculation, suggesting the selection of the best 8 score differentials out of 20 scores, which are then averaged to determine your handicap.

However, if you wish to calculate your handicap independently, you can simply average your best 8 scores without considering the factors that contribute to score differentials.

Your odds of being the high handicapper

odds of being handicaper

Your odds of being a high handicapper in golf depend upon your skill level, experience, and frequency of play.

If you’re a beginner and don’t have much experience, you have higher odds of being a high handicapper as compared to more experienced and skilled players.

If you have limited access to the golf course and do not practice regularly, then again, you can have a high handicap score.

However, you must know that being a high handicapper is not a permanent state, and many golfers use this as a starting point to work towards improvement. With dedication and practice, you can gradually lower your handicap.

🏌️‍♂️ Beginner-Friendly Recommendation: How to get better at golf

Mistakes to avoid as a high handicapper

If you’re a consistent high handicapper, you must be making some mistakes repeatedly in your game. You need to access your game and figure out where you’re going wrong. Here, are some common mistakes that according to low handicappers, high handicappers tend to make. By avoiding these, you can work towards lowering their handicap and enjoying the game better.

High handicappers tend to overthink their shots, especially when it comes to putting. Spending excessive time reading putts from multiple angles can lead to bad performance. You need to simplify your approach and play with a more instinctive style.

Check whether you’re selecting the right club for your shots. Sometimes, you can overestimate the distance a club can achieve and end up falling short of the target. Learn from professionals, who understand their distances well, and make better club selections.

Do not attempt hero shots when facing trouble on the course. Play it safe and minimize damage. Learning to accept bogey as a reasonable outcome during challenging situations can lead to more consistent play and improved scores.

Lastly, do not show exaggerated reactions to poor shots. It can negatively impact your focus and performance. Understand that bad shots are part of the game and stay calm.

How to Improve as a High Handicap Golfer

With regular practice and dedication, you can lower your handicap with ease. Let’s hear some tips to make the route toward lowering your handicap easier.

  • Try to hit the greens in regulation. Hitting the greens in regulation allows you to two-putt for par, reducing the risk of higher scores. Improving your GIR percentage is a key factor in lowering your overall score.
  • Work on reducing the number of putts you take per round. A strong short game can make a significant difference in your scores.
  • When you find yourself in challenging situations, such as missing the fairway or green in regulation, focus on hitting successful ups and downs or sand saves.

Transforming a High Handicapper golfer game (video)

Final Thoughts

After exploring the ins and outs of high handicaps you must have understood that it also serves as an opportunity for growth and progress in golf. Golfers with high handicaps have the potential to enhance their game by focusing on specific aspects and putting in the effort to refine their skills.

Remember that golf is all about improvement and self-discovery. Each golfer’s path is unique, and success comes from dedication, practice, and a positive mindset. Celebrate the victories, and embrace the challenges. Happy golfing!

 Related Reads


Q) What’s my handicap if I shoot 90?

A) If you consistently shoot 90 on a par 72 golf course, your handicap would be approximately 18. A handicap is a measure of a golfer’s skill level, and it represents the number of strokes above par that a golfer is expected to score on an average round. In this case, shooting 90 on a par 72 course indicates that you are scoring 18 strokes above par on average, which corresponds to a handicap of 18.

Q) What is the maximum golf handicap for a man?

A) As of the implementation of the World Handicap System (WHS) in 2020, the maximum golf handicap for a man is 54. This means that a golfer’s handicap index cannot exceed 54, regardless of their skill level or performance. The WHS is a standardized system that aims to make handicaps more consistent and portable worldwide, ensuring fair competition among golfers of varying abilities.

Q) What does a 20 handicap mean?

A) A 20 handicap in golf means that the golfer’s handicap index is 20. This indicates that, on average, the golfer typically scores 20 strokes over par on a standard golf course. A handicap is a numerical representation of a golfer’s skill level, and a higher handicap indicates a less experienced or less skilled player. As the handicap decreases, the golfer’s performance is expected to improve, and they will score closer to or below par on average rounds.

Q) What does a 30 handicap mean?

A) A 30 handicap in golf means that the golfer’s handicap index is 30. This suggests that, on average, the golfer typically scores 30 strokes over par on a standard golf course.