Golf Handicap Truths: Bad Scores Don’t Matter

In wishing about the direction of your handicap there are two kinds of golfers: 1) The ones who want their handicap to go down to show how good they are and 2) the ones who want their handicap to go up to have a greater advantage when competing. In both cases it is important to understand what impacts the golf handicap.

Why bad scores don’t matter…

The USGA handicap system intents to calculate the potential ability of the golfer and not the average ability like many believe. Therefore, it only considers the best 10 scores of the last 20 rounds. Then it averages those 10 rounds and after multiplying by 96% you get your handicap.

The below table shows what happens when you have less that 20 scores recorded.

So if it only considers the 10 best scores out of the last 20 rounds, what happens with your other 10 rounds?


Those rounds are not even considered. So, if your 10th best score is a 98, it doesn’t matter if you played 99 or 140. It won’t do anything to your index. Only the shame.

The logic, like we explained before is that to get the potential ability you want to consider only the best rounds. Also, bad rounds are very erratic, but good rounds are fairly stable, which makes it more predictable.

but I have heard..

Yes, it is a big misconception. So next time someone says something like – “well at least this score is going to increase my handicap”, don’t tell them anything if you don’t want to, but know that he doesn’t really know what he is saying.

For more details about the Golf Handicap Formula you can refer to our previous article How to Calculate your Golf Handicap or to theĀ USGA Handicap Manual.

Please let us know if you have any questions about this post or about anything related to the handicap system and we will be more than happy to help.

Enjoy your Golf!

Author avatar


  1. Joe Ottaviano,

    Hi, my HC on the card states “220” but, my index states “19.1”. Please correct.
    Also, when I want to see different stats, the display shows courses I have never played. e.g., MooseHead, Miami, etc. seems to be a gliche somewhere in system

  2. chaussur de foot

    chaussur de foot…

    But your website is my way to preferred data, my dilemma is solved now. Many thanks for posting some thing really worth readinga?|…

  3. bottes jonak story

    bottes jonak story…

    This site has a good deal very good data on it, I examine on it every time Ia??m online. I want other websites spent as much time as this a single does creating details clearer to readers like myself. I advocate this site to all of my fb friends. This …

  4. Tim Niesen

    If we already have an official usga handicap and scores, is there anyway to upload that wothoit putting in all the scores individually? (Plus I dont know where is played…)

    • Hi Tim, good afternoon. We apologize for the late response.
      When you first Register on TheGrint, we ask you what’s your Starting Handicap. You can write your USGA Handicap there and then it will be updated every 1st and 15th of each Month.
      You will be assigned to a USGA Club as well, which will provide you with your USGA Compliant Handicap.
      You can e-mail us at if you have any questions. We are here to help.

  5. Judy Sherwood

    My index has been between 27.5 and 29.4 for quite awhile. I have 2 tournament scores where the differential is 30.7 for one and 33.6 for the other. My June 1 index was 29.2. However, yesterday when I did a handicap lookup on, I saw that my handicap was R25.2. I always shoot about the same score except on 6/5 I shot 119, exceptionally bad! Please explain to me why my index went down by 4 after posting that bad score.

    Thank you.

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *