What is a Handicap?

If you’re just starting to play golf, it can be confusing to learn how to score the game. When you throw in the term handicap, and how it’s different for every player, it might become even more difficult for you to understand.

Why there is such a thing?

A handicap was invented so that it was more fair to play against players with different abilities. For example if you’re just starting out in the game of golf, you might be worried to go up against a player that’s been playing for years. It would be natural to assume that they would score much better than you, and this is precisely why handicaps were invented.

How it works

A handicap was designed to give an advanced player an additional amount of strokes so that the score is more even. Handicaps are calculated off of the score that you’re predicted to shoot, and based on the difficulty of the course. It’s also based upon the weighted average of your 10 most recent best scores.

If a player has a handicap of 8, they would get a stroke subtracted from their score on the 8 hardest holes on the golf course in Bend, Oregon. Essentially each golfer is given a certain amount of free strokes, and its calculated with a formula and by your previous rounds of golf.

There are official handicaps that are calculated and tabulated by the USGA, and anyone can have one by paying a small fee. If you’re just starting out, or you’re a golfing beginner, chances are you don’t have a handicap yet. If someone out on the golf course, asks you what yours is, just say that you’re starting out and you don’t have one.


If you have questions about exactly what a handicap is, or how it’s applied to your score, talk to the golf pro at your local golf course in Bend, Oregon. They’ll be able to explain how it works, and how it effects your score. If you’re starting out, it’s something you shouldn’t be too worried about. If you’re playing with other golfers who are much more advanced than you, don’t worry so much about it. Take it as an opportunity to learn and watch them. See what they do, and talk to them about their handicap and how it effects their scoring.