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Last Updated: 08/09/2016

Tournament Handicap Calculation

The procedure illustrated in the example below is based on Section 9-3(c) of the USGA Handicap Manual, which is available on the USGA's official Handicapping web site:

Tournament Format:  2-Player Better Ball

Ron has a handicap index of 6.7 and plays the Blue Tees, which have a course rating of 71.8 and a slope of 128.  His partner Bill has a handicap index of 11.2 and also plays from the Blue tees.

Tom has handicap index of 15.3 and plays the White Tees, which have a course rating of 69.5 and a slope of 121.  His partner Michelle has a handicap index of 21.2 and plays from the Red tees, which have a course rating of 71.1 and a slope of 125 (for women).

Line Step Ron


Tom Michelle
1 List player's USGA handicap index. 6.7 11.2 15.3 21.2
2 List slope from tees played 128 128 121 125
3 Calculate the Course Handicap for each player [Multiply Line 1 by Line 2 and divide by 113.  Round off the number to the nearest whole number, with .5 or more rounded upward.] 8 13 16 23
4 List the format adjustment factor recommended by the USGA 90% 90% 90% 95%
5 Multiply Line 3 by Line 4 and round off to the nearest whole number, with .5 or more rounded upward.  This is the Unadjusted Tournament Handicap. 7 12 14 22
6 List the course rating for the set of tees played 71.8 71.8 69.5 71.1
7 List the minimum course rating for all players 69.5 69.5 69.5 69.5
8 Subtract Line 7 from Line 6 and round off to the nearest whole number, with .5 or more rounded upward.  This is the Tee Adjustment. 2 2 0 2
9 Add the Tee Adjustment to Line 5 to determine the Tournament Handicap for the player.  This is the number of handicap strokes the player receives in the competition. 9 14 14 24

So in this example, why do Tom and Bill receive the same number of strokes even though Tom has a USGA Handicap Index of 15.3 and Bill an index of 11.2?  For three reasons:  (1)  Bill plays from tees with a higher slope, which increases his Course Handicap more than Tom's; (2) they only receive 90% of their indexes for the event because it is a team event, which reduces the magnitude of the difference between their Course Handicaps; and (3) Bill is playing a set of tees where the course is more difficult for a scratch golfer, so he receives two additional strokes to reflect that difference.  In the above example, it can be shown that if Tom had elected to play the Blue tees, he would have received 17 strokes for the event.

For additional information on this topic, please see the USGA's position paper on Players Competing from Different Tees.