Maximum Hole Score for Handicap Purposes (Net Double Bogey)

USGA Handicap System (pre-2020):  The maximum hole score for handicap purposes is based on a player’s Course Handicap and the following Equitable Stroke control (ESC) table:

Course Handicap

Maximum Score on any Hole

9 or less

Double Bogey

10 through 19


20 through 29


30 through 39


40 or more



Rule Change for 2020:  The maximum hole score for each player will be limited to a Net Double Bogey, calculated as follows:

Double Bogey + handicap strokes a player receives (or gives) based on their Course Handicap

(“or gives” only applies to plus handicap players)

Reasons for Change:

  • The Net Double Bogey adjustment is more consistent from hole to hole than the ESC procedure.
  • For example – Using the ESC procedure, a player with a Course Handicap of 21 would have the same maximum score (8) on each hole – regardless of the Par or difficulty of the hole.
  • By factoring in Par and Stroke Index values under the Net Double Bogey procedure, adjusted hole scores will be more precise and reflective of each player’s demonstrated ability.

    » This is a more personal assessment compared to the grouping together of Course Handicap ranges.

  • While this is a change for all who have used the USGA Handicap System, Net Double Bogey has been used successfully in many parts of the world – as it is the equivalent to zero points in the Net Stableford format of play.
  • The 2019 “Rules of Golf” introduced the maximum score form of stroke play, and Net Double Bogey was included as a recommended maximum score.
  • When Net Double Bogey is the maximum score set by the Committee, no adjustments are necessary for handicap purposes.