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How Do I Establish a Golf Handicap?

Golf Handicap FAQ


New Jersey Golf Country Club
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Establishing a USGA Handicap Index is not difficult. You simply need to be a member of a golf club that uses the USGA Handicapping System, and begin reporting your scores.

Member of a golf club? Isn't that expensive?

We're not talking about that kind of club (a private golf course), we're talking about the kind that is comprised of members - as in association or group. At least 10 members, to be exact. Ten members and a handicapping committee is all that's required of a club for it to become part of the USGA Handicapping System.

Of course, many golf clubs - meaning country clubs, private clubs or otherwise - have their own handicapping committees. But many public courses and even municipal courses will be able to help you establish your handicap. Next time you're at one, ask if they provide handicapping services. They will likely tell you that the Men's Golf Association, or Ladies Golf Association, or whatever groups are based at the course, do. Then, it's just a matter of joining that club.

Once you're in a club that is part of the system, you simply turn in your scores after each round to the handicap committee. This may be done manually - handing over your scorecard to someone. Or electronically - signing on to a computer in the pro shop or 19th hole, entering your ID number and password, and entering your score.

And more and more clubs are allowing their members to enter their scores remotely, at home or from any other computer, through use of the GHIN system.

A handicap committee should calculate, issue and post handicaps about once a month. Once you have five scores turned in, you'll get your handicap index. Thereafter, your handicap index will always be based on the lowest 10 of your last 20 rounds.

Golfers in the USGA's area also have the option of forming their own golf club without real estate for the purposes of handicapping, but you need a minimum of 10 golfers to do so.

See the Handicapping section of the USGA website for more info.

What if you live somewhere where the USGA Handicap System isn't used? (Which is to say, outside of the USA, Mexico and a handful of other locales.) Then you'll need to contact your state, provincial, regional or national golf association, which should be able to point you in the right direction. In Great Britain and Ireland, the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) administers the Unified Handicapping System (UHS), for example. If you're not sure who to contact, ask the pro next time you're at your local golf course.

Return to Golf Handicap FAQ index

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