What Is the Average Handicap for Golf?

By Brian Vaughan

A golf handicap is the mathematical measure of an amateur golfer’s skill relative to the skill of other golfers. The lower a golf handicap is, the better the golfer. Handicap rules may vary depending on the golf course.

Average

The average golf handicap index for men is 16.1 and 28.9 for women, according to the United States Golf Association.

Statistics

Many golfers do not actively maintain a handicap. Only about 21 percent of golfers today keep a handicap, making the average handicap statistics based on a relatively small sample size.

Objective

Golf handicaps exist to identify skill levels and level the playing field between them. Golfers who are less proficient receive handicap strokes to make matches with more highly skilled players more competitive.

Application

Handicaps work by allowing golfers to subtract strokes from their score on certain holes. Once a round of golf is completed, any players with handicap strokes to subtract may do so to better their scores, and the average handicap is figured based on this process.

History

The golf handicap system was created by the United States Golf Association in 1911. Data regarding this system that allows golfers to know average handicaps has only recently become popular.

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