About Keeping a Handicap

We get a lot of questions about handicaps from our members. Here is our attempt at making handicaps simple. If you'd like to get the official version of handicaps, visit the United States Golf Association Handicaps section.

Please contact our Handicap Chair, Mary Wondolowski, if you have any questions.

What is a Handicap?

A handicap:

  • Allows golfers of different abilities to compete against each other

  • Is a measure of your potential as a golfer, not your average score

  • Adjusts for differences in the difficulty of the courses you play, as well as for playing from different tees.

When Should I Start Keeping a Handicap?

Under USGA rules, the maximum recognized handicap is 40.1, However, EWGA Chicago Metro Chapter is allowed to offer local handicaps (recognized at events within our chapter only) which go up as high as 56. Anyone can have a USGA Handicap Index. If you are an Advanced Beginner golfer, consider signing up and tracking your improvements by keeping a local handicap.

As soon as you have entered 5 scores into the system, you will have a handicap index that will enable you to compete in official handicap competitions, such as the EWGA Championship events. Your handicap index is based on an average of your best handicap differentials in your scoring history. To put that in English: each time you enter a score, the system computes a variance from par for your score, and this variance is related to the difficulty of the course. Once you have at least 5 scores, the system computes a handicap index based on a portion of your best scores. 

Which Handicap System Should I Use?

As a member of the EWGA Chicago Metro chapter, you have access to two handicap systems which both provide an USGA Handicap Index.