Basis of Handicap Index Calculation

USGA Handicap System (pre-2020):  When a score is submitted, it is converted to a Handicap Differential based on the Course Rating and Slope Rating of the tees that were played. 

A Handicap Index is then calculated by averaging a player’s 10 best Handicap Differentials out of their most recent 20.

  • The resulting average is then multiplied by .96 – also referred to as the “bonus for excellence.”
  • If a player has submitted two or more Tournament Scores (T-scores) within the past 12months, and two of those Handicap Differentials are 3.0 strokes below their Handicap Index as calculated from the steps above, then an additional reduction might apply.

Rule Change for 2020:  When a score is submitted, it will be converted to a Score Differential based on the Course Rating and Slope Rating of the tees that were played. In addition, a Playing Conditions Calculation will be included to account for any abnormal course or weather conditions.

A Handicap Index will then be calculated by averaging a player’s 8 best Score Differentials out of their most recent 20.

  • A Soft Cap and Hard Cap will be included in the calculation to limit the extreme upward movement of a Handicap Index within a 12-month period.
  • An Exceptional Score Reduction will take place when a player submits a score that produces a Score Differential that is 7.0 strokes or more below their Handicap Index.

Reasons for Change:

  • Moving to an 8 of 20 system will allow for greater responsiveness to good scores and eliminate the need for a bonus for excellence – which is often difficult to explain.
  • Since players with a higher Handicap Index tend to have more fluctuation within their Scoring Records, using 8 of 20 will allow their better scores to weigh more heavily and create more equity across all Handicap Index ranges.
  • Including a Playing Conditions Calculation will ensure that each Score Differential is reflective of a player’s performance in a given round.
  • Limiting the extreme upward movement of a Handicap Index will ensure that a temporary loss of form does not cause a player’s Handicap Index to move too far from their demonstrated ability.
  • The Exceptional Score Reduction procedure is designed to be intuitive by evaluating all scores as opposed to just “T-scores.”
  • Incorporating these safeguards will add integrity to the system and support Handicap Committees by ensuring the accuracy of each member’s Handicap Index.