There are many different ways to calculate a golf handicap, but the most common method is to use the USGA Handicap System. To calculate your handicap using the USGA method, you must have played at least five rounds of golf at the same course and have a score for each round.

This article will discuss how to calculate the golf handicap for nine holes and the tips to improve your handicap.

History Of Golf Handicaps

The game of golf has been around for centuries, and the origins of handicapping are just as old. The first recorded use of handicaps in golf was in 1754 at The Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, now known as Muirfield.

This early form of handicapping was used to level the playing field for matches between players of different skill levels. The concept quickly caught on, and by 1858, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (R&A) had formalized the rules of handicapping.

One key element that sets golf apart from other sports is that every player competes against him or herself rather than directly against opponents. This makes it possible for players of all skill levels to enjoy a round of golf together. Moreover, with a handicap, players can track their progress over time.

Messing around in your golf bag? Read our guide on how to organize the golf bag effectively.

Types Of Golf Handicap

how to calculate a golf handicap for 9 holes

There are two types of handicaps: course handicaps and tournament handicaps.

Course Handicap

A course handicap is based on a player's scoring potential relative to the par for a specific course.

Tournament Handicap

A tournament handicap is used in competition based on a player's score relative to par for a specific tournament.

Players with higher course or tournament handicaps have more strokes to play with than those with lower handicaps.

Calculation Of Handicap For Nine Hole

There are two types of calculations index and differential. Let us discuss both of them:

Calculating a 9-Hole Handicap Differential

Assuming you have already played a few 9-hole rounds and have recorded your scores, calculating your 9-hole handicap differential is relatively easy.

To calculate your 9-hole handicap differential, take the difference between your nine-hole scoring average and the USGA Course Rating for the tees you played.

For example, let us say you played a par 36 nine-hole course with a USGA Course Rating of 35.4. If your average score for nine holes were 37, then your 9-hole handicap differential would be:

37 - 35.4 = 1.6

This number would then be used on a scorecard to help determine what strokes you should get on certain holes based on your handicap.

Calculating a 9-Hole Handicap Index

To calculate a 9-hole handicap index, multiply your 9-hole course rating by 0.96 and subtract 36.4. This will give you your 9-hole handicap index. To convert this to an 18-hole handicap, divide your 9-hole handicap index by 2.

For example, if your 9-hole course rating is 34 and you have a 36.4 handicap index, your 18-hole handicap would be (34 x 0.96 - 36.4) / 2 = 0.9

If you want to calculate your 9-hole playing handicap, take your 9-hole handicap index and subtract it from the par of the course you are playing on. For example, if you were playing a par 35 course and had a 9-hole handicap index of four, your 9-hole playing handicap would be 35 - 4 = 31

Golf Handicap Calculation Changes for 2022

The United States Golf Association (USGA) is set to implement changes in how handicaps are calculated for golfers playing nine-hole rounds. The new system, which goes into effect in 2022, will use a "playing Conditions Calculation" to determine a golfer's handicap index.

This change is being made to make the handicap system more equitable for all golfers. Under the current system, a golfer's handicap index is based on their best ten scores out of 20 rounds played. However, this can be unfair to golfers who frequently play nine-hole rounds, as their handicaps are often artificially inflated due to the inclusion of new scores.

The new calculation will take into account a golfer's recent scoring history and the difficulty of the course they are playing. It is hoped that this will create a more accurate representation of a golfer's skill level and make it easier for them to compare their score against others playing similar courses.

Tips to Improve Your Handicap

how to calculate a golf handicap for 9 holes

If you are looking to improve your handicap, you can do a few things.

  • First, make sure you are keeping track of all your scores. This way, you can accurately calculate your handicap.
  • Second, try to play on different courses and in different conditions. This will help you to become a more versatile golfer.
  • Third, practice, practice, practice! The more you play and work on your game, the lower your handicap.
  • Fourth, get some lessons from a professional golf instructor. They can help you to identify areas that need improvement and give you the drills and tips you need to lower your score.
  • Finally, do not be afraid to ask for help from other golfers. Many of them have been where you are and can offer helpful advice on improving your game.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

How Long Does It Take to Play Nine Holes of Golf?

The average person can expect to play nine holes of golf in about two hours. However, this time can vary greatly depending on the person's skill level, the course difficulty, and other factors. The best way to determine how long it will take to play nine holes of golf is to ask someone who has played the course before or to look up the course's average pace of play online.

How can you figure out your golf handicap per hole?

You determine your "handicap difference" for a given round of golf by taking your equitable stroke control, removing the course rating, multiplying that result by 113, and dividing it all by the gradient rating of the course.

What is the highest handicap for a nine-hole course?

According to the USGA, the normal largest amount from any handicap index in a golf competition on an 18-hole course should be 40.4 for women and 36.4 for men. It must be 18.2 for men and 20.2 for women on the nine-hole golf course.


Calculating your golf handicap for nine holes is a simple process that can help you improve your game. By knowing your handicap, you can adjust your play to match the level of competition you are up against.

Use our easy-to-follow guide to calculate your golf handicap for nine holes and start playing the game at your best.