What is a Plus Handicap in Golf

In the world of golf, handicaps play a crucial role in leveling the playing field and ensuring fair competition. A handicap is a numerical measurement of a golfer’s skill level, indicating their ability to play the game relative to other players.

One such handicap category is a Plus Handicap, which represents a golfer’s skill level beyond the average player. Understanding what a Plus Handicap means and how it is calculated is essential for avid golfers striving to improve their game.

The golf handicap system is a standardized method used to calculate and adjust handicaps for players of varying skill levels. It takes into account a golfer’s performance in previous rounds and compares it to the expected average score.

The result is a handicap index, which reflects the player’s skill level relative to the course rating and slope rating. The handicap index forms the foundation for determining a Plus Handicap.

In this guide we will explore what a plus handicap in golf is and how it is calculated as well as tips for lowering your golf handicap.

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Understanding the Golf Handicap System

In the world of golf, the handicap system plays a crucial role in maintaining fairness and competitiveness among players of different skill levels. It is a method that allows golfers to compete on an equal footing, regardless of their individual abilities.

To fully grasp the concept of handicaps, it’s essential to understand the formula used to calculate them, the significance of a golf handicap index, and the rules that govern the system.

The golf handicap formula is employed to determine an individual player’s handicap, which represents their relative skill level compared to a “scratch” golfer.

The formula accounts for factors such as the difficulty of the course being played, the player’s score in relation to the course rating, and the slope rating of the course. By taking these variables into consideration, a golfer’s handicap is established, allowing for fair competition.

To provide a standardized measure of a golfer’s skill, the golf handicap system utilizes a golf handicap index. This index represents a player’s potential ability, displaying their average performance across a range of golf courses.

A golf handicap index is calculated based on a golfer’s most recent scores and is updated periodically. By having an accurate and up-to-date handicap index, golfers can enter tournaments and compete against players of various skill levels, ensuring fairness and providing a level playing field.

It’s also important to be aware of the rules and regulations surrounding golf handicaps.

Golf handicap rules dictate how handicaps are obtained, adjusted, and used in competitions. These rules are essential to maintain the integrity of the game and ensure that players adhere to the principles of fair play. By following these guidelines, golfers can participate in events and enjoy a competitive yet equitable golfing experience.

The golf handicap system is crucial for both recreational and competitive golfers, as it promotes fairness and inclusivity in the sport. By understanding the formula used to calculate handicaps, the role of a golf handicap index, and the rules that govern the system, golfers can navigate the world of golf handicaps with confidence and participate in enjoyable and equitable competitions.

Golf Handicap System Breakdown

For a more detailed understanding of the golf handicap system, refer to the following breakdown:

Golf Handicap FormulaThe formula used to determine a golfer’s handicap by considering course difficulty, player score, and slope rating.
Golf Handicap IndexA standardized measure of a golfer’s skill level, representing their potential ability across various courses.
Golf Handicap RulesRegulations that govern the acquisition, adjustment, and usage of handicaps in golf competitions, ensuring fairness and equal opportunities for all players.

Defining a Plus Handicap

A plus handicap in golf refers to a situation where a player’s skill level is above the average benchmark set by the handicap system.

For most golfers, a handicap is a number that represents the number of strokes over par a player is expected to shoot on a good day. For example, if a golfer has a handicap of 15, they are expected to shoot around 15 strokes over par on a course with a par of 72.

However, a plus handicap indicates that a golfer is expected to shoot below par. This means that a golfer with a +1 handicap is expected to shoot one stroke under par on average.

Plus handicaps are less common and signify a player who is exceptionally skilled.

In competitions, a player with a plus handicap will have to add strokes to their score, essentially playing at a disadvantage to level the playing field with other competitors. This system allows golfers of all skill levels to compete against each other in a fair and balanced manner.

With a Plus Handicap, you are eligible to participate in exclusive tournaments and events that highlight the talents of exceptional golfers. It provides you with the opportunity to compete against players of similar skill levels, creating an atmosphere of fairness and healthy competition.

The benefits of having a Plus Handicap extend beyond recognition and competition. It also allows you to challenge yourself even further, setting higher goals and reaching for new levels of excellence in the game.

Advantages of a Plus HandicapConsiderations
1. Opportunities to compete against top-level golfers
2. Recognition for exceptional skills and achievements
3. Access to exclusive tournaments and events
1. Pressure to consistently perform at a high level
2. Expectations of continued improvement and success
3. Need for ongoing dedication and commitment

Embrace your Plus Handicap as a mark of distinction, highlighting your skills, commitment, and dedication to the game of golf.

Calculating a Plus Handicap

Calculating a Plus Handicap in golf involves a straightforward process that utilizes the golf handicap formula. By following these steps, you can determine your Plus Handicap and gauge your skill level beyond the average golfer.

  1. Start by obtaining your golf handicap index, which signifies your overall skill level in relation to the course rating and slope rating. This index is crucial for calculating your Plus Handicap.
  2. Next, refer to the golf handicap formula to determine your Plus Handicap. The formula takes into account your golf handicap index, the course rating, and the slope rating. It calculates the difference between your index and the course rating, applying a factor determined by the slope rating.
  3. Once you have obtained the value for your Plus Handicap, you can apply it to your current handicap to reflect your exceptional skill level.

While the manual calculation of a Plus Handicap can be done using the golf handicap formula, there are also online tools and mobile apps available that simplify the process. These golf handicap calculators and apps eliminate the need for cumbersome manual calculations and provide accurate results quickly and conveniently.

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Advantages and Considerations of a Plus Handicap

A Plus Handicap in golf offers numerous advantages for skilled golfers who consistently score better than the expected average. This section explores the benefits of having a Plus Handicap, along with the considerations that come with it.

Advantages of a Plus Handicap

  • Recognition of Exceptional Skills: A Plus Handicap reflects a golfer’s exceptional abilities, demonstrating their prowess on the golf course. It highlights their ability to consistently outperform the average player, setting them apart as a highly skilled golfer.
  • Opportunities for Competitive Tournaments: With a Plus Handicap, golfers have the chance to compete in challenging tournaments against fellow skilled players. These tournaments often attract top-level talent, providing a platform for players to showcase their skills and compete at a higher level.
  • Fairer Matches: Golf matches against players with lower handicaps can often be one-sided, favoring those with lower skill levels. However, having a Plus Handicap allows for fairer matches, as it balances the playing field by giving skilled golfers an advantage that aligns with their abilities.

Considerations with a Plus Handicap

  • Consistent Performance: Maintaining a Plus Handicap requires consistent high-quality play. Golfers with Plus Handicaps may face pressure to perform consistently at a high level to maintain their handicap. This can be challenging and requires dedication and ongoing improvement.

While a Plus Handicap offers significant advantages, golfers need to be prepared for the expectations and pressures that come with it.


In conclusion, a Plus Handicap in golf is a noteworthy recognition of a golfer’s exceptional skill and talent. It signifies that the golfer consistently outperforms the average player and showcases their ability to score better than what is expected. With the golf handicap system and the concept of a Plus Handicap, the game of golf becomes more inclusive and allows for fair competition across skill levels.

A Plus Handicap is calculated based on the golfer’s handicap index, which takes into account their past performance and scoring differentials. This handicap category provides opportunities for golfers to participate in competitive tournaments and challenges, where they can showcase their advanced skill level and play against like-minded individuals.

However, having a Plus Handicap also comes with considerations. The expectations to consistently perform at a high level can add pressure to the golfer, as they strive to maintain their Plus Handicap status. It requires continuous dedication, practice, and focus to stay on top of their game.

In conclusion, a Plus Handicap in golf is more than just a number. It represents a golfer’s commitment, determination, and skill level. It is a testament to their excellence and provides a platform for them to excel in the game they love.

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What is a Plus Handicap in Golf?

A Plus Handicap in golf signifies a golfer’s skill level that surpasses the average player’s scope. It indicates their ability to consistently score better than the expected par value of a golf course. A Plus Handicap is when you have to add strokes to your score because you’re scoring below par.

How is the Golf Handicap System calculated?

The Golf Handicap System is calculated using a formula that takes into consideration a golfer’s scores from previous rounds and their relevant golf course’s difficulty rating. The exact formula may vary slightly depending on the golf handicap system being used, but the process involves comparing a golfer’s scores to the course rating and generating a handicap index.

What is a Golf Handicap Index?

A Golf Handicap Index is a numerical representation of a golfer’s skill level. It is determined using the scores from previous rounds, which are adjusted based on the difficulty of the course. The Golf Handicap Index provides a standardized way of measuring a golfer’s ability and enables fair competition across different skill levels.

How do I calculate my Plus Handicap?

To calculate your Plus Handicap, you would first need to have a Golf Handicap Index. Once you have determined your Golf Handicap Index, you can determine your Plus Handicap by subtracting the course rating from your adjusted score and multiplying the result by 113. The resulting number represents the number of strokes you are giving away to the course in a round.

Are there any tools available to calculate my Plus Handicap?

Yes, there are several golf handicap calculators and apps available that can help you calculate your Plus Handicap quickly and accurately. These tools usually require you to input your scores and the course rating, and they will provide you with your Plus Handicap based on the provided information.

What are the advantages of having a Plus Handicap?

Having a Plus Handicap in golf signifies exceptional skill and opens up opportunities to compete in challenging tournaments. It also allows for fairer matches against golfers with lower handicaps, as strokes are given away to level the playing field. A Plus Handicap is a recognition of a golfer’s advanced abilities.

What considerations come with having a Plus Handicap?

While a Plus Handicap is a testament to a golfer’s skill, it may also come with added pressure to perform consistently at a high level. Additionally, participating in tournaments or matches with a Plus Handicap can be more competitive and demanding, requiring golfers to continually hone their skills to maintain their performance.

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Nick Foy – Golf Instructor

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