Golf Handicap Scores: It’s Time to be Realistic
Walk around any golf clubhouse and you will hear players lamenting their handicaps.
No matter if they play once a week or every day, most golfers want to improve their handicap scores.
It isn’t often that golfers return from an 18-hole round of golf and are satisfied if they shot three of four strokes higher than normal.
But do golf handicaps actually handicap (no pun intended) golfers when they step on the golf course?
Defining your current handicap
The United States Golf Association’s handicap system is based on a golfer’s 10 best rounds out of a possible 20.
The figure is a snapshot of a player’s game.
Theoretically, a golfer could have a handful of poor golf outings that go into that score.
In comparison, a golfer could play the best golf of their life.
Once again, it is just a snapshot and doesn’t necessarily reflect a player’s full ability as a golfer.
What is realistic?
The first thing that golfers should understand is the handicap doesn’t truly define how good or bad a day of golf is.
Some golf handicap experts believe that calculating an average score over time is more important than worrying about a handicap.
If your handicap is 20 and you play a 71.0 rated course, the average score could give you a better idea of where you stand as a golfer.
Each round’s score can fluctuate.
Therefore, calculating the average can give you a clearer picture of your skill level than a soul crushing handicap score.
Average vs. Handicap
It is important to have realistic expectations.
By having unrealistic expectations, like shooting a 20 handicap or better every time out, you set yourself up for failure.
Every shot is then mentally scrutinized and one shot can ruin the rest of your round as you mentally beat yourself up.
One tip is for players to worry more about lowering their average score, rather than their handicap.
In the end, if you are able to lower the average, the handicap will come down gradually.
By stressing less about the handicap and needing every shot to be perfect, you can play a better round of golf.
A handicap can be transported between golf courses.
This allows golfers to use their handicap against different opponents and when playing courses that may be new.
Handicaps can also be adjusted over time.
This is done by playing a handicap-counting round.
A golfer’s handicap can stay the same if a player scores equal to the original handicap.
It can also remain the same if the score is worse and falls into the handicap buffer zone.
If you shoot well above the buffer zone, then your handicap will increase.
A score that falls outside the buffer zone is judged against the standard scratch score (SSS) or the competition scratch score (CSS).
These numbers will help you find out which handicap category you fall into.
There are five golf handicap categories a player may fall into. They include:
- Category 1: handicaps of 5 or less
- Category 2: handicaps of 6 to 12
- Category 3: handicaps 13 to 20
- Category 4: handicaps 21 to 28
- Category 5: handicaps 29 to 36
While a golfer can see his or her score increase if they shoot a round well above the handicap buffer zone, the score can come down based on a short mathematical equation.
According to Golf-Monthly, the equation looks like this: shots under CSS x 0.1 x handicap category = current handicap.
Lowering a handicap
Some golfers may have spent years trying to lower their handicap without success.
There are a few tricks and tools players can use.
Of course, one is taking golf lessons or enrolling in a golf college to help improve technique.
Like all things, having a low golf handicap requires practice and plenty of patience. If you have both, then a great handicap score is within reach.