HomeHandicappingHandicap FAQs

The basics of the USGA Handicap System that every player should know.
How do I establish a handicap index?
  • You will need to join a member club of the Southern Nevada Golf Association. You will receive a GHIN number that identifies you and your golf scores.
  • New members may start posting scores right away and can even back-date their scores if they have old scorecards laying around.
  • You will need to post five 18-hole rounds in order to receive a handicap index. On the 1st or 15th of the month (whichever is sooner), a handicap index will be calculated based on the scores you have entered in GHIN.
  • Your handicap index will be updated twice a month on the 1st and 15th of each month based on the scores that you have entered in GHIN.
How is my handicap index calculated?
  •  Your handicap index formula is based on the best handicap differentials in a player’s scoring record.
  • If a player’s scoring record contains 20 scores, the best 10 handicap differentials of the most recent 20 scores are used to calculate the handicap index.
  • As the number of scores in the scoring record decreases, the percentage of handicap differentials used decreases.
  • Click here to view the USGA Handicap Formula and try to calculate it yourself.
What is Equitable Stroke Control and how do I adjust my scores?
  • ESC is an adjustment of individual hole scores (for handicap purposes) in order to make handicaps more representative of a player’s potential ability.
  • ESC is applied after the round and is only used when the actual score or the most likely score exceeds a player’s maximum number.
  • ESC sets a limit to the number of strokes a player can take on a hole depending on the course handicap. Apply ESC to all scores, including tournament scores.  The maximum number a player can take is:
Course Handicap Maximum Number
9 or less Double Bogey
10-19 7
20-29 8
30-39 9
40 and above 10
Why does my handicap have an “R” next to it and what does it mean?
  • In the simplest terms it is an indication that you have scored 3 strokes or more below your handicap index in two or more tournaments over the past 12 months. When this occurs, you are subject to rule 10-3 which may result in a reduction of your handicap.
  • Whether your handicap is reduced and the amount it is reduced is based on a formula that takes into consideration how far below your handicap you score and how many tournament scores you have.
  • This is all applied automatically by the GHIN system.
How do I delete or change an incorrect score?
  • If you have posted an incorrect score your handicap chair or the SNGA staff may correct the error.  A club representative or the SNGA are the only entities authorized to make a change to your scoring record.
I played in a club event, and some players received more strokes if they played back a tee box. If that’s where they always play, why should they get more strokes?

When players compete from different tees, or men and women compete against each other, section 3-5 of the USGA Handicap System Manual explains how handicaps must be adjusted to allow for a fair competition.  Remember that the goal of handicapping a net event is that for all players to tie if all of them play exactly to their handicap.  A handicap index is calculated based on how each player’s posted scores compare to the course rating and slope rating for each round they play.  These may be from the same course and tees, or they may be on different courses, or the same course but different tees.

An easy way to see this, is to calculate your Target Score, which equals the course rating, plus your course handicap.  Here’s an example:  Player A has a course handicap of 10, a plays the front tees (rated 70.0).  Player A should shoot 80 if they he(she) plays to his(her) handicap.  Player B, also with a course handicap of 10, but playing from the back tees (rated 72.0), should shoot 82 if he(she) plays to his(her) handicap.  If they are playing against each other, section 3-5 requires that Player B receive an additional 2 strokes (72.0-70.0).  Those strokes would make Player B’s event handicap 12.  If both players play to their handicap (Player A 80-10=70, and Player B 82-12=70), they will achieve the goal of tying.  Without the adjustment, Player A will shoot net 70, and Player B will shoot net 72, giving Player A a 2-stroke advantage.

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