Triangle, NC Chapter

Establishing & Maintaining a USGA Handicap

What is a Handicap?

A handicap is an indication of a player's ability. A specific formula is used to compute handicaps by factoring in a player's score and the difficulty of the course played.

Why would I want to have a Handicap?

A handicap allows players of different ability levels to compete with each other. For example, if a player with a 20 handicap has a score of 100, her net score is 80 (100 - 20 = 80) while a player with a 27 handicap and a score of 107 also has a net score of 80. Using handicaps helps to even the playing field, making the game more fun.

Handicaps also travel with you. If you play a course that is more difficult than your home course, your handicap will generally be higher and, on an easier course, will generally be lower.

When should I establish a Handicap?

If you are just learning the game of golf and spend the majority of your time taking lessons or practicing, then it may be too early for you to establish a handicap.

Once you start playing 9 or 18 hole rounds, you should establish your handicap.

How do I establish a Handicap?

LPGA AMATEURS provides a handicap service as a part of your membership through the end of 2019.  This is included with the LPGA AMATEURS Handicap System (GN21) that is offered to every member affiliated with an LPGA AMATEURS. In order to use this service you must first activate your GN21 account (found in the Member Clubhouse at You then must enter a minimum of 5 scores (total of 90 holes) to establish your handicap.

If you have questions about posting scores, contact chapter Handicap Chair at HANDICAP CHAIR to get started.  It's very easy, and can make your game even more fun! 

A verifiable USGA handicap index is required if you are planning to play in this year's LPGA AMATEURS Championship and/or Champions Cup. Some of our weekend golf outings this year will also be handicapped events.

The 2019 Local Championship Qualifier will be held during the first week of June, with a registration cutoff date at least 17 days prior (stay tuned for details). You must have an established handicap index before you register for Championship events, and at least 2 scores posted this year. Note that it takes five 18-hole rounds to establish a handicap index - so start now!

Most Common Question?   How many times do I have to play to have an established handicap? 

Answer: In order to obtain a Handicap Index, a player must join an authorized golf club (like PGA Amateurs) and post adjusted gross scores. These scores are subject to peer review. After at least five scores(18 holes) have been posted, the club will be eligible to issue a Handicap Index to the player in accordance with the USGA Handicap System.

More information can be found by logging into your LPGA Amateurs account and choosing “My Handicap” or by posting a score and looking under the help menu.


How do I calculate my course handicap?
The formula for calculating your course handicap is: Your handicap index multiplied by the USGA course slope rating for the course tees you are playing from (note the slope will be different for men and women), divided by 113. Then round up or down to the nearest whole number.

For example: Jane’s index is 13.9. She is playing at Pine Hollow Golf Course from the forward tees (which are red at this course). At Pine Hollow, the USGA shows the slope for women from the forward (red) tees at this course as 121. Jane’s course handicap is: 13.9 X 121 = 1681.90 / 113 = 14.89, rounded to 15. Jane’s Course Handicap at Pine Hollow is 15.

Jane will record her actual strokes for each hole on the scorecard. If she is unable to finish a hole she will record the number of strokes she would likely have had. For instance, on hole #2, Jane was already at 7 strokes after she hit her ball onto the green. To keep pace of play, she picked up her ball, assumed she would have had 2 putts, and wrote a 9 on her scorecard. When Jane posts her score, she will use Equitable Stroke Control (see chart below) to adjust her score for any hole where she recorded more than 7 strokes. (Note that in tournament stroke play, you must actually finish every hole – no picking up!) 


If your course handicap is:

The maximum # of strokes that you can post per hole is:

9 or Less

Double Bogey

10 through 19


20 through 29


30 through 39


40 or higher



If you still have questions about Equitable Stroke Control,