Handicap Info

EWGA Member Benefit: you get a golf handicap

What is a Handicap Index and Why in the World Would I Want One??

Simply stated, a Handicap Index is a number which represents your scoring ability.  It compares a player's scoring ability to the scoring ability of a scratch golfer (someone who regularly shoots par) on a course of standard difficulty.

What's in it for you, you may ask --
To begin with, whether we want to admit it or not, almost immediately upon picking up a golf club for the first time, we decide that we just have to get better at this challenging game.  Unless we always play on the same course, simply comparing our scores from one outing to another will not really give us an accurate picture.  A Handicap Index takes into consideration how difficult each course is and rewards one accordingly for playing well on a course that, for example, has sand traps and lily ponds jumping out at every turn.

Secondly, what if your best buddy invites you to play at a fun member-guest affair at her posh Country Club and then after you enthusiastically agree, she asks you what your Handicap is?  Even though she truly may be interested in knowing if you have fully recovered from your double hip replacement, she probably really is asking you what your Handicap Index is.  Regardless of how much fun is planned, there is likely some type of game or competition involved to determine who is going to take home the latest Annika Sorenstam fashion from the Pro Shop.  Do you really want to miss out on that opportunity?

Lastly, any type of competitive event that comes your way and piques your interest will necessitate your having established a Handicap Index.  Without trying to explain the Einstein-like mathematics involved to calculate it, what's important is that by utilizing players' Handicap Indexes, everyone can compete on an equitable basis, regardless of ability.  You vs. Nancy Lopez on equal ground - isn't that just an awesome thought?!

Not convinced yet?
Well, did you know that one of the numerous benefits that you are afforded as an EWGA member is the opportunity to compete in the world's largest women's amateur tournament??  Yes, it is the EWGA Championship Tournament and it begins with our own Chapter Championship. Stay tuned for more details to come about this exciting event.  However, YES, you do have to have established a Handicap Index to play.


So how do you establish your very own Handicap Index?
It’s not hard at all! And as an EWGA member, you receive a USGA Handicap Index through the EWGA Handicap System (GN21), free with your membership (a $30 value).

Once you’ve activated your GN21 account, just log on after you’ve played either a 9- or 18-hole round and key in your scores. The GN21 system does all the rest.

To activate your account:
-login to the members area at www.ewga.com by clicking on MEMBER LOGIN 
-type in your email address and password. If this is your first time visiting the Members area your password will be "Password1"
-click on HANDICAP in the left-hand column and you will automatically enter your GN21 account

You do have 2 responsibilities...
Like many other aspects of the game of golf, handicapping is an honors system.

To be fair to other players, you need to try to make the best score you can, every hole of every round you play — and you must post scores for every round you play.  (Except for Putt-Putt and mini-golf!!)

Do that, and your handicap index will be accurate, so that when you do play in competitions, they’re fair for everyone who participates.

Check out the next article to see just what scores are acceptable to post!

Questions about golf handicaps?  Contact Wendy Bolton, EWGA Rochester Handicap Chair.


How to Post Scores for Your Handicap Index

  1. Log in to the Member Clubhouse.
  2. Click Handicap in left sidebar.
  3. Click 'Enter Score' or 'Enter Hole-by-Hole Score.'

More Info about Posting Scores

Acceptable Scores for Handicap Purposes

The following are acceptable scores and must be posted for handicap posting purposes:
  • Post scores from home or away golf courses
  • Post scores when at least seven holes are played (7-12 holes are posted as a 9-hole score; 13 or more are posted as an 18-hole score)
  • Post scores made in an area observing an active season
  • Post scores made under "The Rules of Golf"
  • Post scores on all courses with a valid USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating
  • Post scores when playing two nines, even if it is the same nine, or nines from different days.  Simply combine the nines into an 18-hole score.  Add each nine-hole USGA Course Rating and average the Slope Rating of the two nines
  • Post scores in all forms of competition: match play, stroke play, and team competitions where players play their own ball
  • Post scores played under the Local Rule of "preferred lies"

Unacceptable Scores for Handicap Purposes


The following are unacceptable scores and cannot be posted for handicap posting purposes:
  • Do not post scores where fewer than seven holes are played
  • Do not post scores made on a golf course in an area in which an inactive season established by the authorized golf association is in effect
  • Do not post scores made when a majority of the holes are not played in accordance with the principles of "The Rules of Golf"
  • Do not post scores when the length of the course is less than 3,000 yards for 18 holes or 1,500 yards for nine holes

Adjusting Hole Scores

Incomplete Holes or Conceded Strokes
If a player picks up on a hole or is conceded a stroke, records the most likely score that would have been made.  This most likely score is the number of strokes (including any penalty strokes) taken thus far played under "The Rules of Golf," plus the number of strokes needed to complete the hole from that point more than half the time.  An "X" should precede the score on the scorecard for this score (e.g. X-5).

Holes Not Played
When a hole is not played, or not played under "The Rules of Golf," the score entered for handicap purposes is par (for the hole) plus any handicap strokes the player is entitled to, based on Course Handicap.


Equitable Stroke Control

Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) keeps an exceptionally bad hole from changing a Handicap Index too much and sets a maximum ESC number that a player can post on any hole depending on that player's Course Handicap.  For handicap purposes, after the rounds, a player is required to adjust hole scores (both actual or most likely) when these hole scores are higher than the maximum ESC number.  All scores, including tournament scores, are adjusted for ESC.  A player can adjust for ESC on any number of holes - there is no limit.

Application of Equitable Stroke Control

Course Handicap Max. # Strokes/Hole

9 or less Double Bogey
10 through 19 7
20 through 29 8
30 through 39 9
40 or more 10


Bogey Rating, Slope Rating and USGA Course Rating Defined

Bogey Rating represents the playing difficulty of a golf course for a bogey golfer under normal weather and course conditions.

Slope Rating is computed from the difference between the Bogey Rating and the USGA Course Rating multiplied by a mathematical constant.  Therefore, Slope Rating represents the relative difficulty of a course for a non-scratch golfer compared to a scratch golfer.  The greater the gap in expected scores between the scratch golfer and the bogey golfer, the higher the Slope Rating will be.

USGA Course Rating represents the playing difficulty of a course for a scratch golfer under normal weather and course conditions.


Any questions?  Please feel free to contact our Rochester EWGA Handicap Chair Wendy Bolton.