Playing Handicap Calculator: Level the Golf Playing Field!

If you have played a lot of golf, chances are that you have heard of the playing handicap. The playing handicap is very similar to that of the course handicap.

However, it uses a slightly different handicap depending on the allowance given. The playing handicap calculator is the ultimate tool to help you determine this figure.

The playing handicap refers to how many shots a player gives or receives when playing a specific course. This can help to bring mid and high-handicappers into contention with the scratch golfers.

While it is not used for professional tournaments, it is a great way to make local competitions more interesting and fun.

To help you gain a better understanding of the playing handicap, we have dived deeper into the formulation. The formulation used by us and many other online calculators is similar to that of the USGA.

Once you have your playing handicap, it should be much easier to play a specific course with an allowance.

Playing Handicap Calculator Tool

Once you go to a specific course, you might be inclined to get your course handicap. The course handicap is slightly different as it reveals the number of strokes a player can play to par the tees on the given course.

It is also the number used to adjust for net double bogey or net par on a specific golf course. The playing handicap uses the same formulation as the course golf handicap, but you have an allowance percentage.

The handicap allowance is often adjusted to compensate for the skill or handicap level of a player. 95% is the most common handicap allowance used, which gives an amateur player one or two extra shots.

Handicap Allowance

As mentioned, the main purpose is the level up the game and ensure that regardless of your handicap, you still feel like you are competing.

It is a great method used for local competitions and fundraisers to allow everyone to compete. However, it is not used for professional tournaments on the PGA Tour.

How to Calculate the Playing Handicap?

To calculate the playing handicap, you will need to have access to the course handicap. The course handicap is then applied to an allowance percentage and this gives you the specific playing handicap.

If no allowance is applied, the playing handicap and the course handicap will use the same formulation for calculation. For your course handicap, it becomes slightly more challenging and you will need some information about your handicap and the course rating.

The following things are needed to ensure you can calculate your course handicap and ultimately follow that up with your playing handicap:

Handicap Index

The handicap index is the first thing you will need to ensure you can calculate your playing handicap. To determine your handicap index, you will need to submit 3 18-hole scores to any governing body of golf.

This means that you need to join some golf clubs and work through some of the official channels to get this number.

Keep in mind that your handicap index is also the official handicap as presented in the USGA regulations for calculating a handicap. Once you raise your handicap index, you could raise all other golf handicaps and have a better adjusted gross score.

Slope Rating

The slope rating refers to some of the difficulties of the course itself. It is often very similar to that of the course rating and reveals the difficulty of the golf course with the help of the course rating.

Slope Rating

Things like bunkers and trees will make up the slope rating. Fortunately, this number can be found on the scorecard.

Course Rating

As mentioned, the course rating and slope rating are very similar. However, the course rating is an official number designated to the golf course by one of the governing bodies.

It determines how difficult the course is and takes into account things like the layout. Professional golf courses used on the PGA tour tend to be more difficult.

Par Score

The par score is the combined total of what it takes to make par on all course holes. The number is often between 68 and 72 depending on the course you are playing. You will need to insert the par of the course to help determine your playing handicap on a specific golf course.

Handicap Allowance

The handicap allowance is a percentage figure often determined by the hosts of a specific competition before the competition starts.

It is the recommended handicap for a specific competition and will also be the cut-off level for players to qualify for said competition. The number can range from anywhere between 0 and 100 depending on the course and competition.

Playing Handicap vs Course Handicap

One of the biggest questions we see from many new players is about the difference between the course handicap and the playing handicap. Both of these numbers are similar and might be confusing to some of the newer players.

Course Handicap

Here is a small comparison to help you better understand which one is which and how they work:

Course Handicap

The course handicap refers to the specific number a player will need to aim for on a specific golf course. Once the formula is used to calculate your course handicap, you will see how many extra shots you have to make it to the course handicap score.

It is often one of the things you can use when trying to improve your game and if you need a target to aim for.

Playing Handicap

The playing handicap and the course handicap are similar, but the playing handicap takes the handicap allowance into account.

With the playing handicap, you have a specific set of targets to aim for and each player might have a slightly different number. It is often used by competition organizers to bring everyone on par or to have some fun.

Whether you are a bogey golfer or scratch golfer, the world handicap system allows for the playing handicap differential to assist the average golfer. Handicap calculation should be beneficial on the particular course and make it more fun for your hole score.

How Do You Improve Your Playing Handicap?

Most of the numbers used for the calculation of the playing handicap are fixed and you have no control over them. However, you are in complete control of your handicap index.

Once you improve your handicap index, you will find that you can incrementally improve every aspect of your golf handicap. All other handicap numbers should improve with an increase in the handicap index figure.

Improving your handicap might take an overhaul of your game and you will need to make improvements to your swing and your style.

The best technique we teach players is similar to that of the legendary Ben Hogan. Once you understand the swing technique of this master, you can see massive improvements in your overall handicap and game.

Consistent Golf - Stress Free Golf Swing

Free report: 7 shortcuts to instantly improve your ball striking (based on how Ben Hogan's swing changed after his accident and significantly improved his swing)

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Can I Use a Normal Handicap Instead of a Handicap Index?

If you are calculating your playing handicap, it is preferred that you use the official handicap given to you by one of the golf governing bodies.

Since many people can simply make up their handicap, using it for the playing handicap is not fair. Additionally, you don’t want a handicap number that you can hardly reach.

The handicap index is the official handicap that most players pride themselves on. Once you gain a good understanding of golf, you can improve yours. Having a better handicap index will automatically improve your course handicap and your playing handicap.

The playing handicap is one of the easiest handicaps to calculate and understand when you have the course handicap.

The most important thing would be to make sure you understand the course handicap and have the handicap index. We have found some niggling questions from some of you whilst researching the article:

What Is a 95% Playing Handicap?

The 95% does not refer to the handicap you have for the competition. It is the number used to determine the allowance you receive for a competition.

The 95% evens out the game and takes away some of the shots from the high handicappers. This makes it possible for a scratch player who does not have as big of a difference between rounds to remain in contention.

How Do I Calculate My Playing Handicap?

The first step would be to find your course handicap and the course handicap uses one of the most complicated formulations you would come across.

There are numerous calculators, but our online calculator uses the same formulation that the USGA will use when calculating the course handicap for a player.

Once you have the course handicap, you would want to add the handicap allowance to the course handicap. This will give you the number of strokes you receive or have to give for a specific competition.

Should I Use the Playing Handicap for Golf?

The playing handicap is a method used to even up the game. Since each player will play to their strengths and the handicap they have.

The playing handicap allows scratch golfers and high handicappers to compete. It is often used for fun local competitions.

Wrap Up

If you are playing a fun casual game and you want to make it more interesting, the addition of the playing handicap will make this possible.

It should make the game more interesting and allow you to see differences in your competition. Let us know in the comment section if you have used the playing handicap in local competitions.

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