May 06, 2023
POSTED BY: Nicholas Venditti

What Is a High Handicap?

If you haven't heard the term before, a golf handicap refers to the difference between the total golf par and the average number of strokes a golfer completes in roughly ten games. Your golf handicap is the number of strokes played over the average number of strokes for that particular course. For example, a par six should require six strokes to get the ball in the hole. 

Simply put, the lower the handicap, the better the golfer. The higher the handicap, the worse the golfer. This is a very simplistic way of looking at it, but don't worry, we'll get into the details soon! This guide will take you through the different high-handicap categories and why they're essential. 

High Handicap Categories

A golf handicap is considered high when it goes above 18, with the upper limit being 54. Around 25% of male and 81% of female golfers reside within the high handicap bracket, so it's nothing to be embarrassed about. It's part of the game! 

Since so many fall into the high-handicap categories, players break them down into three subsections, including lower-high, mid-high, and higher-high. Let's get into it!

Lower-High Handicap

This covers a handicap of 19-29. Golfers in this category usually shoot low 90s to low 100s and will often hit a few rounds in the high 80s. Players that fall into this category need to focus their effort on breaking that all-important 100 barrier. 

Mid-High Handicap

This covers a handicap between 30 and 40. Mid-high handicap players average scores in the lower regions of 100 and 110. Players in this range should aim to consistently break 90 to bring their handicap down into the 20s. If their handicap is toward the higher end of the 30s, they should focus primarily on breaking 110 consistently. 

Higher-High Handicap

The highest end of the high-handicap bracket covers anywhere between 41 and the upper limit of 54 - involving shooting rounds of 113 up to the high 120s. This is the land of triple-bogeys, so the players in this category should aim to keep them off their card as much as possible. Try setting a goal of less than 120 strokes per round. 

How to Calculate Your Handicap

Before we get into our two-step guide on calculating your own handicap, the first thing to make clear is that if you've never played golf before, then your golf handicap doesn't exist. It calculates using information from previous games. 

With that out of the way, let's get to calculating!

Step 1: Track Your Nine and 18-Hole Scores

Not all the scores you've played will affect your handicap calculation. You should only take interest in the scores from your 9 and 18-hole games. As of January 2020, this must include at least three 18-hole scores, which can include three individual 18-hole scores or a combination of 9-hole scores. 

These must be recorded in a scorecard and signed off by two people; yourself and whoever accompanied you on the course. These signatures are required to minimize fraud. If you haven't been keeping track, it's time to start! 

Step 2: Apply the Updated Calculation

Take note: the calculation for working out your golf handicap changed in January 2020. Before, it was ‘Handicap Index’ multiplied by ‘Slope Rating’ and divided by 113. Now, it's ‘Handicap Index’ multiplied by ‘Slope Rating’ divided by 113, with the addition of ‘Course Rating’ minus ‘Par’.’ 

We know it sounds complex, but it's relatively simple once you know what you're looking for. We advise writing down all the requirements before starting any equation. Seeing the figures written down in front of you will make the process much more straightforward. 

Why Do We Need Golf Handicaps?

The main reason we need golf handicaps is for uniformity and community across the sport. The United States Golf Association (USGA) recognized the need for a handicap index that allows all golfers, regardless of gender, age, or skill, to access the sport equally. 

Golf handicaps are also a great way to track your personal progress throughout the game. A game of golf isn't just about winning or losing when you abide by the handicap system. Instead, you get the added benefit of seeing your handicap score fluctuate as you play. It's rewarding and challenging in equal measure, all while providing heightened accessibility

How Can Golfers Move From High to Low Handicaps?

In short, plenty of practice. The more you play, the more you'll hone in on the areas that need a little more work. Ultimately, consistency is critical. This goes for your technique and the equipment you use. If you're relatively new to the sport, you should expect to be within the high-handicap range. This is normal, so don't feel too frustrated! It merely means you have a great excuse to get out on the green.

One of the most common ways to drive up your handicap score is by frequently hitting three-putts. Try to get those to a minimum, and you should see your handicap score drop steadily. Achieving this relies upon controlling the distance and speed of your first putt so that your second can be where you sink it. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Considered a High Handicap in Golf?

A high handicap is anything above 18 when using the handicap index as a reference. Hypothetically speaking, the higher your handicap score, the worse at golf you are. Plenty of experienced players have relatively high handicap scores. It requires practice and shouldn't impact your enjoyment of the game!

Final Thoughts

The most important thing to remember regarding your golf handicap score is that it isn't fixed in place. You have every opportunity to improve it next time you're on the course. Part of the joy of sports is having a goal to work toward! At Stitch Golf, we provide the equipment you need to achieve that goal. Check out our full range of gear and apparel today!