How to Calculate Your Golf Handicap

Golf Handicap Calculation

Let's say you're a lawyer in sunny Monterey, Calif. Work has been slow lately, so over the last three months you've played 15 rounds at the nearby Pebble Creek Golf Links. Now, for the first time, you're ready to calculate your handicap. You calculate your adjusted gross score for each round, careful to cap your stroke total at 10 on each of the disastrous holes you played. Your adjusted gross scores for the 15 rounds are as follows:

 85 87 92 96 92 88 86 80 91 97 87 89 95 90 86

You always play from the gold tee, which, according to the scorecard, has a course rating of 72.3 and a slope rating of 137. With this information you're ready to calculate your handicap differential for each round. This is what your calculation for the first round should look like after rounding your answer to the nearest tenth:

handicap differential = (adjusted gross score - course rating) x 113 / slope rating

handicap differential = (85 - 72.3) x 113 / 137

handicap differential = 10.5

After calculating the handicap differential for each round, you get these results:

 10.5 12.1 16.2 19.5 16.2 12.9 11.3 6.4 15.4 20.4 12.1 13.8 18.7 14.6 11.3

Now you're ready to calculate your handicap index. Since you've played 15 rounds, you'll take the average of your lowest six handicap differentials and multiply the average by 0.96 (see table on previous page: "Determining How Many Differentials to Use"). Don't forget to drop any numbers after the tenths place:

handicap index = (6.4 + 10.5 + 11.3 + 11.3 + 12.1 + 12.1) / 6 x 0.96

handicap index = 10.1

 Celebrity Golf Handicap IndexesKenny G: plus-0.6Brett Favre: plus-0.8Michael Jordan: 1.2Samuel L. Jackson: 4.9Justin Timberlake: 6Bill Murray: 7.5Celine Dion: 17Snoop Dogg: 18Arnold Schwarzenegger: 25Derek Jeter: 30[source: Bestrom, NBC Sports]

Now, say things at the law practice are picking back up and you have to go to New York City to visit Jim, one of your clients. Just across the Hudson is Liberty National, so you and Jim take an afternoon to play a round. The course has a rating of 77.7 and a slope rating of 151. You calculate your course handicap, rounding it to the nearest whole number:

course handicap = (handicap index x slope rating) / 113

course handicap = (10.1 x 151) / 113

course handicap = 13

Jim calculates his course handicap at 6. After 18 holes of stroke play, you finish with an adjusted gross score of 86 and Jim finishes at 80. Since your course handicap is 13, you are awarded one stroke on each of the first 13 holes. Jim is awarded six strokes on the first six holes. Therefore, your handicap-adjusted score is 73, while Jim's is 74. So even though Jim played the fewest strokes, you are declared the winner.