A golf handicap is not just a great tool for using in a match to create a level playing field; it is also a way to measure up against other players. When golfers find out that an acquaintance of theirs plays the game, the next question is almost always, “What’s your handicap?”

This concept of the golf handicap index is the way to judge the skill level and average score of amateur golfers.  The United States Golf Association closely monitors the handicap system to ensure it remains fair for all players.

What is considered a good golf handicap

If you’ve been wondering whether your handicap is low or high enough to be considered good at golf, you’re in the right place.

What is a good golf handicap?

A good golf handicap is ten or less. With a handicap index of ten or less, you will generally shoot somewhere around 82. Shooing in the low 80s is better than average but certainly not good enough to be considered a scratch player. With a playing handicap of less than ten, you have to be able to play well at all types of courses, not just your home course.

Players with a handicap index of less than ten will occasionally shoot in the 70s and likely play in a few tournaments from time to time. At this level, you will most likely make a few bogeys and may have one or two bad holes per round.

Outside of that, your game should be rather consistent. Certainly, when playing against a field of all beginners, showing in the low 80s will look quite impressive.

Handicap classifications – High | Mid | Low

We tend to classify handicaps into three categories: high, mid, and lower. Some people who are high handicap are considered to be beginners, however, this is not always the situation. Here are some of general guidelines for classifying players as high, mid, or lower handicaps.

There is no specific rule or documentation from the USGA that states what the handicap levels are; however, Amateur golfers have sort of unofficially determined these ranges.

High handicapper – (18 and above)

Have you heard the term bogey golfers? These players can make a bogey on all 18 holes and generally end up with a number right around 90 for their day on the course. This is considered to be about an average golfer or Bogey golfer.

If you are hanging right on this line, you are considered average or mid handicap. However, any move by the individual golfer above this line of bogey golf is considered part of the high handicapper range.

image of a golfer with a high handicap - AEC InfoMany players in the high handicapper range have not been in the game that long, and they are still working on how to get their scores down.  Higher handicappers will often be forced to take a maximum score on a particular hole for handicap purposes, which prevents their worst rounds from dropping a players handicap too much.

For example, during an 18-hole round, you may make a few triple bogeys or higher. The Handicap calculation will limit you to double bogey on most holes. This handicapping formula will keep the average golf score or current handicap during the season from climbing too high just because of a few bad holes.  

Some people in the high handicap range play golf twice a year, and their golf game is not a priority. This handicap category is unique, and only the most talented golfers would be able to shoot their actual handicap in one of those two rounds. Others have been playing the game of golf their entire life, and the thought of shooting par is a pipe dream.

Most high handicappers need to work on both accuracy and short game. The accuracy of their shots is essential to stay in play. To avoid double and triple bogey holes, it is essential to make sure that you hit the ball in the fairway.

High handicappers that start to pay more attention to their short game generally see a significant decrease in scores. We recently finished this guide to help titled Best short game shots for women golfers


Mid handicap – (8 to 17)

Mid handicappers are the average golfers. These are the players that work on their game , want the new equipment and all of the best educational swing equipment, yet they can’t break 80. Mid handicappers tend to be rather good at making par but struggle to make enough birdies to make up for their bogeys.

image of mid handicapper - AEC InfoThe mid handicapper tends to have a weakness in their game somewhere. This could be a fear of skulling a chip shot, long irons that barely leave the ground, or a slice that comes out every third hole. Regardless of the weakness, it keeps the player’s scores above that 80 mark for most rounds.

The mid handicapper is typically an Avid golfer and tends to have a weakness in their game somewhere. This could be a fear of skulling a chip shot, long irons that barely leave the ground, or a slice that comes out every third hole. Regardless of the weakness, it keeps the player’s scores above that 80 mark for most rounds on an 18-hole course.

Knowing when to hit a chip shot vs a pitch shot can be the difference between a few strokes a round.  Other issues such as struggling with Green reading or a nagging golf injury may be reasons you stay in the mid handicap range. 

Low handicapper – (7 and Below)

The Single-Digit handicap and low handicappers are the player’s that have the game slightly figured out. Although most of these players are not going to make it on the PGA Tour, they have the lowest handicaps because they know how to get around their home course.

If you watch a low handicap or scratch golfer play the game, you will notice that it is played very cleanly. Players don’t make many big mistakes with their Tee shot or chipping, and they often can make up for these mistakes within a hole or two. These are the golfers that make a bogey and then follow it up with a birdie on the next hole.

They know how to recover, and it will certainly impact their score.

Low handicap golfers tend to play from a further tee which will impact the course rating and Slope rating. They are essential to playing a harder golf course than the rest of us. This leaves room for an extra bogey or two while still keeping the handicap in the low zone.

One of the biggest differences you see between the Scratch golfer and the golfer with a 22 handicap is time. Most scratch golfers will tell you that they have had to invest a lot of time in the game, including working on their game at home or at the office, along with following a Golf workout plan.
Talk to a low handicapper and odds are he has a putting mat in his office, and a variety of golf training aids in his home. Most of the low handicapper spent quite a few years at the average handicap range before learning how to lower their strokes.

How can i lower my handicap?

Almost anyone who knows the golf game will tell you that if you want to eliminate handicap strokes, you will need to work on your short game. The answer to lowering your scores is in the green. The quicker you can learn to get the ball in the hole, the lower your handicap number will be.

Spend a bit of time each day playing some putting games of varying difficulty. Learn to be comfortable with these short game clubs, and everything else will fall into place. So much golf is about confidence; it certainly matters more than worrying about the Slope rating or course handicap ranking.

Why is my handicap different at different golf courses?

The USGA issues golfers a handicap index. This is a number that can then be used to determine your course handicap at other courses. Not all golf courses have the same slope and rating. This essentially means that golf courses have varying rates of difficulty. If you want a low handicap, you will have to play well at a tough golf club. This will help bring your handicap index down.

Each golf course will have a USGA rating, and you can use your handicap index number to figure out the course handicap for each place you play. You may find that certain courses set up better for your game and can have a larger impact on your golf handicap.

Handicap system is a bit complicated, but the USGA does the best it can to keep golf handicaps fair all across the board.

What is considered a good women’s handicap

The typical female golfer is similar to any other golfer when it comes to her handicap level. However, there are some differences that should be taken into consideration.

Women tend to have less muscle mass than men. Because of this, they generally have slower swings and shorter clubs, and typically will hit the ball shorter.

What is the average golfers handicap?

The average golf handicap is about 15. This is based on research that survey participants did; however, based on what we have seen in the game and our years of involvement, the average should be a bit higher than this.

There are plenty of people that do not follow the handicap system properly and forget to enter some of their scores.

To find a true national average, it would take 100% honesty on the part of the golfer. As golfers, we all know that this is not always the case. Truly the average handicap for players is probably a bit closer to an 18 than a 15.

Nevertheless, both would fall into that mid handicaps range.


Having a good golf handicap is not always the same thing as being a good golfer. Some great golfers are men or women that are a bit older and can’t hit the ball quite as far. These players struggle to keep these strokes quite as low, yet they play impeccable golf.

Golfers should challenge themselves to make better swings and roll in more putts. These two things are without a doubt going to produce some lower numbers and allow you to have more fun on the course.

Use your golf handicap to ensure you are getting the proper number of strokes on the course, but don’t let it define who you are as a golfer.