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Average Score Compared to Handicap Index


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#1 Hit 'Em Straight

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 02:10 PM

I often play with friends and work colleagues that do not carry a handicap, but do play a decent amount of golf.  

They usually ask what I shoot, and my response is I try to break 90.  But when the topic of handicap comes up, they wonder why I’m not aiming to shoot an 85 (i.e., just add my handicap index to the par 72).

This makes me curious as to what people score on average in relation to their index.  

I’m currently at a 12.8 and the average score for my last 20 rounds is an 89.  

I thought it may be interesting to see what people score compared to the index they carry.  Presumably course difficulty will weigh significantly on the numbers.


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#2 andrue

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 03:03 PM

Handicaps are supposed to be 'aspirational'. They indicate your potential not your average. I think they are supposed to be what you'll score in a near perfect round - or at least one when where you do nothing wrong.

Edited by andrue, 12 November 2017 - 03:06 PM.

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#3 Mcgeeno

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 03:11 PM

I think my average score is 3 strokes higher than my index last I checked?

I remember one time I'm playing Bandon Dunes with a group of buddies and one guy comments after I shoot an 81 or something. "You are more like a 10 handicap than a 3 or 4 I think"

I tried to explain that your handicap is your potential, but luckily I shot a 72 the next morning at Pac Dunes and it never came up again, LOL.

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#4 Hit 'Em Straight

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 03:37 PM

View PostMcgeeno, on 12 November 2017 - 03:11 PM, said:

I think my average score is 3 strokes higher than my index last I checked?

I remember one time I'm playing Bandon Dunes with a group of buddies and one guy comments after I shoot an 81 or something. "You are more like a 10 handicap than a 3 or 4 I think"

I tried to explain that your handicap is your potential, but luckily I shot a 72 the next morning at Pac Dunes and it never came up again, LOL.

Nice!  I managed to shoot a 41 and then a 53 on back-to-back days this fall with two different foursomes.  I'm guessing there is now a group of guys out there thinking I'm a bit of a sandbagger and the other thinking I'm a complete vanity capper.  

So it goes.  It's a roller coaster of a game.

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#5 Conrad1953

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 04:52 PM

Ya, many people don't understand handicaps if they've never had one.  Often
they think you just add your handicap to par and that's what you should shoot;
never mind course ratings and slopes, lol, and never mind handicaps only use
your best scores and toss out the worst, generally.

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#6 Sean2

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 04:55 PM

As was said, the HI is an indication of potential. While your HI won't go up that much if you post a few bad scores, it will drop like a rock if you post some really good ones. lol

It takes the 10 best of your last 20 rounds.
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#7 glk

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 06:34 PM

Frank Thomas.    Ballpark average score for handicap is 72 + cap + 3.     So a 6 average is about 81, for example.  
See popeofslope website.

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#8 andrue

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 04:03 AM

View PostSean2, on 12 November 2017 - 04:55 PM, said:

As was said, the HI is an indication of potential. While your HI won't go up that much if you post a few bad scores, it will drop like a rock if you post some really good ones. lol

It takes the 10 best of your last 20 rounds.
Although for the sake of completeness it's worth noting that UK system is different and not directly comparable. CONGU have started a slope calculation process for all courses though. I think they've said it's to help foreign visitors but I wonder if their long term plan is to switch systems.
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#9 Santiago Golf

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 05:11 AM

View Postandrue, on 13 November 2017 - 04:03 AM, said:

View PostSean2, on 12 November 2017 - 04:55 PM, said:

As was said, the HI is an indication of potential. While your HI won't go up that much if you post a few bad scores, it will drop like a rock if you post some really good ones. lol

It takes the 10 best of your last 20 rounds.
Although for the sake of completeness it's worth noting that UK system is different and not directly comparable. CONGU have started a slope calculation process for all courses though. I think they've said it's to help foreign visitors but I wonder if their long term plan is to switch systems.
Isnt the CONGU system based off tournament/comp rounds?
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#10 mark m

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 09:15 AM

Hit 'Em: You should think about this a little differently. Course difficulty is significant and, therefore, you should use your course handicap (not Index) and the course rating (not par) when thinking about a target score.


A player's Course Handicap is determined by multiplying a Handicap Index by the Slope Rating of the course played and then dividing by 113. The resulting figure is rounded off to the nearest whole number (.5 or more is rounded upward).


A player who has a net score that is equal to the USGA Course Rating for the tees played "has played to that player's handicap." In general, this will occur about once every four or five rounds.

Sometimes a course rating and par are about the same number (say, both around 71 or 72) - but not always.

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#11 nowitski41

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 09:19 AM

Best 10 out of 20 is nowhere near an average. Not even close. I’m up to an 8.0 but if I shoot an 80 then I’m playing my ‘A’ game that day. The slope rating that they use to calculate handicaps is a joke which even further lowers your index. I hate it when I tell people my hdc and then they proceed to mark me at an 80 while they play against an average that they roughly calculated in their head. Honestly I would say that I shoot about an 86. A vast majority of my rounds are between 82 and 90 with a couple of outliers on each side. I usually play courses slope rated in the mid 130’s.

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#12 TLUBulldogGolf

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 10:36 AM

Average score will definitely be higher. I'm a +1.3 and my last 20 scores average is 74.8. The rating of the course you play a lot will make a difference as well.
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#13 00bolt

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 10:50 AM

same here, I'm about an 8, but my average score is usually an 82-83
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#14 andrue

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 11:00 AM

View PostSantiago Golf, on 13 November 2017 - 05:11 AM, said:

View Postandrue, on 13 November 2017 - 04:03 AM, said:

View PostSean2, on 12 November 2017 - 04:55 PM, said:

As was said, the HI is an indication of potential. While your HI won't go up that much if you post a few bad scores, it will drop like a rock if you post some really good ones. lol

It takes the 10 best of your last 20 rounds.
Although for the sake of completeness it's worth noting that UK system is different and not directly comparable. CONGU have started a slope calculation process for all courses though. I think they've said it's to help foreign visitors but I wonder if their long term plan is to switch systems.
Isnt the CONGU system based off tournament/comp rounds?
Primarily but they also allow supplementary scores:

http://www.englandgo...tesectionid=340
and
http://www.englandgo...emtype=document

CONGU also allows clubs to designate a competition as non-qualifying if preferred lies are in force. My club suspends all handicap changes during winter. Other clubs only do that when playing off mats or winter greens.

Edited by andrue, 13 November 2017 - 11:09 AM.

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#15 pearsonified

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 11:08 AM

My 2017 averages will hopefully provide some insight into average score vs. handicap index:
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#16 Lincoln_Arcadia

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 11:27 AM

View PostHit, on 12 November 2017 - 02:10 PM, said:

I often play with friends and work colleagues that do not carry a handicap, but do play a decent amount of golf.  

They usually ask what I shoot, and my response is I try to break 90.  But when the topic of handicap comes up, they wonder why I’m not aiming to shoot an 85 (i.e., just add my handicap index to the par 72).

This makes me curious as to what people score on average in relation to their index.  

I’m currently at a 12.8 and the average score for my last 20 rounds is an 89.  

I thought it may be interesting to see what people score compared to the index they carry.  Presumably course difficulty will weigh significantly on the numbers.


I'd say you are about the normal. My average is 83.6, and my index is around 8.8.

How much variance there is between your average and  and handicap index depends upon what kind of player you are. Inconsistent players will have a wider range of scores, but be capable of scoring much lower. More consistent ones will more or less score their average.

HC index is calculated ideally by taking the best 10 scores out of 20, assuming you have 20 scores, then adjusting for the course and slope ratings to obtain a course handicap. The factored handicap is taken by multiplying by 0.96, which is what the USGA thinks is your potential. Your handicap of 12.8 is actually 13.33 strokes for your course handicap. If you play a course more difficult than 72/113, which is generally the case, take the slope and divide by 113. Let's say you play a 120 slope rated course, this gives you 13.333*120/113 or about 14.15 strokes on your 120 rated course for the average of your 10 best rounds out of 20.

So, the better half of your rounds should score an average 14.15 over par. 86 for instance, or "try to break 90".

Edited by Lincoln_Arcadia, 13 November 2017 - 11:35 AM.


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#17 gripandrip

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 11:35 AM

View PostTLUBulldogGolf, on 13 November 2017 - 10:36 AM, said:

Average score will definitely be higher. I'm a +1.3 and my last 20 scores average is 74.8. The rating of the course you play a lot will make a difference as well.

Definitely agree with that. HI at 3.6, last 20 average is 76.5. Also kind of misleading as the high rounds are tossed. My scores range from 71-82.

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#18 North Butte

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 11:39 AM

Someone decided decades afo that your average score does not make a good handicapping basis. So the current system is only loosely related to average scores.

If you want to know your handicap then calculate it. Otherwise, donít sweat it. You canít get it by just subtracting some number from your average.
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#19 Sean2

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 05:39 PM

View Postandrue, on 13 November 2017 - 04:03 AM, said:

View PostSean2, on 12 November 2017 - 04:55 PM, said:

As was said, the HI is an indication of potential. While your HI won't go up that much if you post a few bad scores, it will drop like a rock if you post some really good ones. lol

It takes the 10 best of your last 20 rounds.
Although for the sake of completeness it's worth noting that UK system is different and not directly comparable. CONGU have started a slope calculation process for all courses though. I think they've said it's to help foreign visitors but I wonder if their long term plan is to switch systems.

I thought I read somewhere there are plans to come up with one system for both the US and UK/Europe.
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#20 Hit 'Em Straight

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 07:46 PM

Thanks for all of the excellent responses thus far.

View Postglk, on 12 November 2017 - 06:34 PM, said:

Frank Thomas. Ballpark average score for handicap is 72 + cap + 3. So a 6 average is about 81, for example.  
See popeofslope website.

I had never heard of the the pope of slope website.  That site is a treasure trove of information.  

The conclusion set forth on that website seems consistent with what we're getting by way of responses here, namely:

"The USGA’s Handicap Research Team tells us that the average player is expected to play to his Course Handicap or better only about 25 percent of the time, average three strokes higher than his Course Handicap, and have a best score in 20 which is only two strokes better than his Course Handicap."


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#21 Buzzkill

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 08:17 PM

My index is 1.5 and I typical shoot 3 over per nine.
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#22 deadsolid...shank

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 10:32 PM

 Buzzkill, on 13 November 2017 - 08:17 PM, said:

My index is 1.5 and I typical shoot 3 over per nine.

High rating on your course Buzzkill?
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#23 Buzzkill

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 10:35 PM

 deadsolid...shank, on 13 November 2017 - 10:32 PM, said:

 Buzzkill, on 13 November 2017 - 08:17 PM, said:

My index is 1.5 and I typical shoot 3 over per nine.

High rating on your course Buzzkill?

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#24 Moonlightgrm

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 12:03 AM

I just accessed my GHIN by USGA app on my iPad and sorted all 126 rounds I have played this season. My scoring average for these 126 rounds is 77.3 and my handicap index is 3.1. I play, primarily, our blue tees which have a course rating of 72.1 and a slope rating of 131 (6,730 yards). My lowest round of the year was a 68 and my highest round of the year was an 83. Looking at the weather forecasts, I am hoping to get two more rounds in before our course closes next week. 2017 has been a fun golf season for me!

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#25 GMR

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 02:00 AM

I've personally experienced both the US and UK systems and can unequivocally say that GHIN is far more generous than CONGU. I would estimate the difference is around 3 strokes of difference (e.g. a 7 US would probably be around a 10 UK), but that it really depends on the volatility of your scoring.  When I first came back to golf after 10+ years off, I was what could only  e described as a "wild bomber." I joined a course in NJ that could not have fit me worse--short, tight, trees everywhere, tiny super fast greens, etc. At that club I'd estimate my average score to be in the 90-92 range, but I was able to maintain an index of 12 due to the occasional lighting in a bottle day that would come in in the high 70s or low 80s. Definitely had more than a few scores on that course in the 100s, but thanks to ESC and throwing out half your scores those didn't matter.

Fast forward to today, I am now living in the UK and my golf game has finally reached the point of respectability. My average score is now around 82, I shoot in the 70s probably 1/3 of the time, and the worst score I can remember in recent times was an 89. My index: 11. Guessing that will come down soon as there haven't been a lot of comps to play in recently, but even then probably no lower than about 8. In the US I'd estimate I would be playing off 4 or 5.


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#26 thepinkbomber

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 09:59 AM

For US I think the math works out that you should only hit your course hcp 1 out of 5 rounds.  I believe that is course hcp not even your index.  I also heard our average is about 3 strokes over the course handicap (not index).

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#27 North Butte

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 10:22 AM

 thepinkbomber, on 14 November 2017 - 09:59 AM, said:

For US I think the math works out that you should only hit your course hcp 1 out of 5 rounds.  I believe that is course hcp not even your index.  I also heard our average is about 3 strokes over the course handicap (not index).

It's one of four rounds, according to the "Pope". And it's that 1-in-4 scores should equal your expected score based on course rating plus index times slope rating divided by 113.

The reason you can't compute probabilities relative to your "course handicap" is that the course rating differs greatly from par, depending on the course and the tees you are playing.

Two players with a course handicap of 13 playing a par 72 course do not have the same expected score if they are playing different tees. So if one guy is playing senior tees with a course rating of 67.0 and the other is playing the tips with a course rating of 72.5 the 1-in-4 probability for the senior tee guy is around 80 (8 over par) and for the tips guy it is around 86 (14 over par). They have the same course handicap but different expected scores because they're playing at 1,500 yards different lengths.
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#28 cwglum

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 11:02 AM

If kept accurately, your Handicap Index will be ~ 3 lower than your actual scoring average.  I've kept scoring info for several seasons and it works for me spot on.

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#29 North Butte

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 11:09 AM

 cwglum, on 14 November 2017 - 11:02 AM, said:

If kept accurately, your Handicap Index will be ~ 3 lower than your actual scoring average.  I've kept scoring info for several seasons and it works for me spot on.

Probably because the tees you play have a course rating of somewhere around one stroke lower than the course par.

My tees are rated five strokes lower than my course's par. My index is 16.5 and my average scores are 17.8 over par. That's a difference of 1.3 strokes between "average score" and index (not actually average score but rather average score minus par and not really average "score" but average ESC-adjusted score).

If I shot those same scores from two sets of tees farther back, my index would be around 14 and my so-called "average scores" would be 3.8 strokes greater than my index.

I don't know why the concept of handicaps being based on Course Rating and not dependent in any way on Course Par is so damnably difficult to understand. The system has been in place for 30 years and not one golfer in fifty understands that Par has no bearing at all in how his handicap index is computed.

Edited by North Butte, 14 November 2017 - 11:10 AM.

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#30 tngolf22

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 11:26 AM

I use the USGA golf handicap index app (GHIN) to enter my scores.  In addition to handicap it automatically keeps other stats like high and low scores out of the last 20 in addition to average score.  My index is 3.4, giving me a home course hcp of 4 and my average score is 77.3.

For whatever it's worth, I play 71.5/123, (6690 yards) tees in the summer and 69.9/120 (6325 yards) tees in winter.  It looks like I average about 2 strokes over my handicap.


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