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Golf Handicap: How it's calculated

Your handicap is calculated by using well-known, public information regarding the difficulty of different golf courses throughout the world. Our calculation of your handicap uses your score from 9 or 18 holes on a golf course, the Course Rating™ for the tees at the course you’ve played, and Slope Rating®  for the tees at the course you’ve played. These ratings are often included on your scorecard or on a golf course’s website and our App also contains a database of such information. 

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The 18Birdies App will calculate your handicap using the following formula:

Step 1:  Handicap = (Score - Course Rating™ x (113/SLOPE®)

Step 2: Calculation of your average best Step 1 scores using the formula set out in the below table:

18Birdies Handicap Calculation

Rounds Played

# Best Rounds Used

1 - 5


6 - 8


9 - 11


12 - 14


15 - 16


17 - 18






Example:  Let’s say you play 2 rounds of Golf at Pebble Beach on Monday and Tuesday, a round at Spanish Bay on Wednesday, then head over to Spyglass Hill on Thursday to play 36 holes, and you finish off this once in a lifetime week of golf at Poppy Hills for 18 holes.

Your Step 1 scores for these rounds would be as follows:

Pebble Beach score of 78:    (78 - 75.5) X (113/145) = 1.95

Pebble Beach score of 82: (82 - 75.5) X (113/145) = 5.07

Spanish Bay score of 76: (76 - 74.0) X (113/140) = 1.61

Spyglass Hill score of 80: (80 - 75.5) X (113/144) = 3.53

Spyglass Hill score of 77: (77 - 75.5) X (113/144) = 1.18

Poppy Hills score of 79: (79 - 74.4) X (113/144) = 3.61

Step 2: Referring to the chart above, we would take the lowest Step 1 scores from only two rounds (Spanish Bay and Spyglass Hill) and average them together like so:  

(1.18 + 1.61) / 2 = 1.4

Your handicap would be 1.4 with the 6 rounds entered. You might be headed to the tour here soon if you keep using the 18Birdies App.  Nice work.

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How many rounds should I enter before my handicap starts to become precise?

Your 18Birdies Handicap will use your latest 20 eligible rounds, and of those 20 rounds will use the lowest 8 rounds towards the calculation.  We suggest entering at least 10 of your latest rounds to start to see a more precise representation of your 18Birdies Handicap.

What if I play only 9 holes? Will the App use my 9-hole scores to calculate my handicap?

Yes.  In contrast to some other handicap products on the market, the 18Birdies App will calculate a handicap based on a 9-hole round by doubling the 9-hole round score to determine an 18-hole score that will count towards your handicap.

Every time you enter a score for a 9-hole or 18-hole round of golf into 18Birdies, you will get an automatic update to your handicap.

Do I have to record every round I play towards my 18Birdies Handicap?

It’s entirely up to you to determine what rounds you want to include or exclude towards your handicap. Although ideally to get the most accurate representation of your game you would want to enter all scores you play.

Are rounds from Par 3 courses included?

No.  When entering scores from Par 3 courses / executive courses, or any course with an 18-hole par of less than 69, these scores will not be counted towards your handicap.  If you play an individual 9 hole round with par of 34 or less (that isn’t part of a full 18-hole round with par of 69 or higher), that 9 hole round won’t be included in your handicap calculation.

What is the maximum handicap? Minimum?

There is no maximum handicap when you use the 18Birdies App.  There is also no set minimum handicap, it is 100% based on the scores you enter so it can be as high or low as your scores determine.

Am I able to get a handicap if I live outside the United States? 

Yes, although depending on where you live, some international courses may not be eligible to count towards your handicap.

Can I enter a score from my old scorecards to get a handicap?

Yes! Absolutely.

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How is the 18Birdies handicap different from the World Handicap & USGA Handicap?

The 18Birdies handicap uses similar inputs to a USGA®  handicap in that both rely upon use of the Course Rating™ and Slope Rating® for a given golf course.  The handicaps differ as follows:



Will calculate a handicap for as few as 1 - 5 rounds of golf played.

Will only calculate a handicap when at least 5 rounds have been played.

No maximum handicap.

Maximum handicap of 54

No adjustment to your handicap for unusually bad scores on a hole or bad weather.

Accounts for unusually bad holes or bad weather with Equitable Stroke Control™

No multiplication adjustment for your handicap.

Multiplies your [scores??] by 0.96 to determine your handicap.

Will use a score from 9 holes to calculate your handicap (scored multiplied by 2)

Combines 9 holes from different courses or different rounds to get one 18-hole score.


How many rounds do I need to get a handicap?

You can get an 18Birdies handicap after a single round. While this may not be an accurate indicator of your golfing abilities, you will have a handicap to share with your golf partners.

Does the Handicap update with GHIN automatically?

No, the 18Birdies Handicap does not update or link with GHIN.

Is this used differently than WHS or USGA for tournaments?

The 18Birdies Handicap can be used similarly to any handicapping system for use in tournaments, but the 18Birdies handicap is not accepted for USGA-sanctioned tournaments or World Handicap-sanctioned tournaments.

Can I use this handicap in official USGA sanctioned tournaments?

No.  An 18Birdies handicap is not accepted at USGA®  or NCGA™-sanctioned tournaments. 

Can I use my 18Birdies Handicap in a United States Golf Association® sanctioned event? 

The 18Birdies Handicap is not a usable handicap in a USGA® sanctioned event.TRADEMARKS:  The terms Course Rating™, SLOPE®, and USGA®  are trademarks and service marks of the United States Golf Association (USGA). The use of such terms herein does not imply any  endorsement of 18Birdies by the USGA or a relationship between 18Birdies and the USGA.

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