Handicap Guide

What is a Handicap?

A handicap in golf is the measure of a golfer’s potential ability. In basic terms a handicap states how many strokes above or below par a golfer should be able to play. The lower the number, the better the golfer.

Why is it important to keep a handicap?
  • It is included in all SCGA memberships. If you have a membership number, you have access to handicap services already included in your membership.
  • Track your progress. If your handicap is going down, then you are improving at golf. 
  • Keeping a handicap allows you to play and compete against other golfers no matter what ability level. Handicaps allow golfers to even the playing field.
  • As you progress in golf, handicaps will be required for most tournaments. The earlier you begin tracking your handicap the more accurate it will be.
Which courses are eligible for score posting?

Not all courses in Southern California are eligible to be used for handicap purposes. 9-hole courses must be at least 1,500 yards and 18-hole courses need to be at least 3,000 yards to be considered. This means that many Par-3 and Executive courses cannot be used for handicap consideration.

How many scores do I need to post to get a Handicap Index?
  • The minimum scores to obtain a Handicap Indes is 54 holes. This is made up of any combination of 9- or 18-hole rounds.
  • A player’s Handicap Index will become active the day after they have posted the minimum number of holes required (54).
  • There is no time limit for completing the submission of these scores.

How do I post my score?

3 Easy Ways to Post Scores:

You can post a score GHIN.com, on the USGA’s GHIN mobile app, or posting computer found in the golf shop at your local golf course. To post, you’ll need to enter the course, set of tees, and your score.


Post quickly and easily at ghin.com.



The GHIN app is a fast, easy and effective way to post your scores.



Nearly all SoCal courses have a computer that SCGA members can use to post scores after your round. Use the touch screen monitor and follow the prompts to post your score.

How do I establish an Index?

Step 1: Sign up for one of our SCGA Junior Sessions, or join our SCGA Junior Golf Pass Step 2: Once you join, the SCGA Junior will send you your own GHIN number. This number is unique to you and allows you to “post scores” to your individual golfer account. You can post your scores by using ghin.com or the USGA GHIN App on your mobile phone. You’ll need to post three 18-hole scores (or any combinations of nine-hole rounds and 18 hole rounds that add up to 54 holes in total) in order to establish your Handicap Index, which will be revised/established the day after you post your third 18-hole score. Look on your mobile phone or ghin.com to see your updated Handicap Index. Please note: Posted rounds are NOT limited to rounds played with your golf club; you can post rounds from any round at any golf course, with any group of golfers.

How often will my Handicap Index be updated?

A player’s Handicap Index will update daily, provided the player submitted a score the day before. Otherwise, no update will take place.

What are other factors that affect the movement of my Handicap Index?
  • New to the Handicap system as of 2020 there are calculations that can also affect a player’s index. The first is that A “soft cap” and “hard cap” will be included within the Handicap Index calculation. The soft cap will suppress the upward movement of a Handicap Index by 50 percent if a 3.0 stroke increase takes place within 12 months. The hard cap will restrict upward movement if, after the application of the soft cap, a 5.0 stroke increase takes place within 12 months. Meaning that for a  player with a 10.0 index, the highest their handicap index will be allowed to rise within that year is 15.0.
  • The other change in 2020 is that addition of a playing conditions calculation. When abnormal course or weather conditions cause scores to be unusually high or low on a given day, a “Playing Conditions Calculation” will adjust Score Differentials to better reflect a player’s actual performance. If enough players who played at a course on a particular day post score that are significantly higher than their recent differentials. The system will add a correction to the player’s score in order to better reflect the difficulty of the course the player’s ability.  
How do I use my Index and figure out my Course Handicap?
  • A Course Handicap will represent the number of strokes a player receives in relation to the Par of the tees being played. The formula will include a Course Rating minus Par adjustment: Course Handicap = Handicap Index × (Slope Rating ÷ 113) + (Course Rating – Par)
  • Or visit the Handicap Index Lookup feature on the SCGA.org homepage. Enter your member number to bring up your scoring file and under the tab C.H. Calculator, enter the tees you will be playing. The calculator will calculate the course handicap for those tees based on your index.
  • The maximum hole score for each player will be limited to a Net Double Bogey. Net Double Bogey is calculated as follows: Double Bogey + handicap strokes a player receives (or gives) based on their Course Handicap. For example, a golfer has a Course Handicap of 13 and makes a Net Double Bogey on a par 4 that they receive a stroke on. In this case their Net Double Bogey is 7.
  • If the golfer’s total gross score (all strokes counted) for the day is 100 but they scored an 8 on that hole the player would adjust that individual hole score to a 7 and post a 99 for handicapping purposes.

Looking for more information about the World Handicap System visit the World Handicap System Hub