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Handicap Index

Establishing your Handicap Index

One benefit of NCGA membership is being issued a Handicap Index number.  The Handicap Index represents your potential scoring ability.  It generally is an average number of strokes above par.  If you are a new player with no index (NH), after GHIN receives scores from a minimum of five 18-hole rounds (or ten nine-hole rounds combined to form five 18s), GHIN will calculate your handicap index.

How Does the GHIN System Arrive at Your Handicap Index?

On the 1st and 15th of each month, GHIN updates your handicap index. GHIN looks back over your last 20 rounds and uses your ten best scores to arrive at your index (designated by an asterisk). The index itself is computed as a composite of your scores combined with the difficulty of the courses you played. Difficulty is determined by the Course Rating and Slope Rating of the course as set by the NCGA.

How to calculate the Course Handicap

Using the Bayonet scorecard as an example, the Course Rating from the red tees is 70.2 with a Slope Rating of 123. The Course Rating is what a female “scratch” golfer would score. A female scratch golfer is a player who can play to a Course Handicap of zero on any and all rated golf courses. A golf course of standard playing difficulty has a Slope Rating of 113, and Slope Ratings range from a minimum of 55 (very easy) to a maximum of 155 (extremely difficult). To calculate your Course Handicap, use the formula in the yellow box or use the Course Handicap calculator feature within the GHIN App.  In this example, Player 1 has a handicap index of 40. On this course, Player 1 has a handicap of 44.

(123/113)*40=43.53982….rounded to 44

GHIN iPhone Mobile App Course Handicap Calculator

Taking this example a step further; if Player 1 was in a tournament at Bayonet Golf Course, their 44 “POPS” would be distributed based on the difficulty of each hole. Hole 8 is the hardest hole; hole 18 is the second hardest hole; hole 9 is the third hardest hole, etc. Continue in this manner until all 44 “POPS” have been distributed. The net score for each player on each hole determines the winner.

Calculating Equitable Stroke Control

Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) is used to keep an exceptionally bad hole from unduly changing your Index by setting a maximum number of strokes you can post on any hole.  Below are the guidelines that are followed once you have determined your Course Handicap.

Course Handicap Maximum Strokes Per Hole
9 or Less Double Bogey
10 through 19 7
20 through 29 8
30 through 39 9
40 and above 10


For example, if my Gross Score was 125; but, on holes 1 and 18 I had 12 strokes, I would adjust my score down to 121 because I can only post up to 10 strokes per hole with a Course Handicap of 44.

When it’s time to post, be sure that the score you submit is adjusted to reflect the maximum strokes allowed per hole based on the  table.