One of the joys of playing golf is that every player in a round is equal. No matter your level or proficiency, everyone plays on the same terms and all thanks to a handicap. In this article, we look at this unique system of leveling the game, describe how to get a handicap and most importantly of all, improve on it.

What is a handicap?

A golf handicap is a number that measures a golfer’s skill. The lower the number of the handicap, the better the golfer can play. And it also tells you how many strokes above or below par a golfer is able to play during a round.

Why do I need a handicap?

In order for everyone to play golf on equal terms, you need a handicap. Some courses require all golfers to have an official handicap in order to play. You also need one if you want to play in competitions. Not all professional golfers maintain their handicaps, but all typically had one of +4 or +6 before they entered the professional circuit.

How does it work?

A handicap can be used in two ways during a match depending on how the golfers decide to play. If they go for the stroke-play option, a player’s handicap is subtracted from their total number of strokes to give their final score. If they’ve chosen match-play, a handicap determines how many shots are given or taken from the other players.

Is it the same for men and women?

The maximum handicap for a male golfer is 36. In the case of women golfers, it rises to 40.

How do I get a handicap?

The rules on obtaining a handicap vary from country to country. For example, in Spain licensed golf clubs can issue their members with a handicap certificate or golfers can take an exam to determine their handicap. In the UK, you must belong to an affiliated club and submit a number of scorecards (at least 3 from 18-hole golf courses).

Rio Real Golf runs a designated Express Handicap course, allowing you to get a handicap in one short course. 

Can a handicap change?

Of course and your objective as a golfer is to bring down your handicap as you improve your game. Beginners usually start with a very high handicap that comes down as they improve and practise at the game. Once you reach a certain threshold, reducing your handicap becomes more difficult.

How can I improve on my handicap?

Practice, practice and more practice. This includes lessons at a Golf Academy as well as getting in lots of rounds of golf on a variety of courses. Consistency always pays off in golf and regular play and practice will soon reap rewards on both your scorecard and handicap certificate. However, don’t obsess yourself with improving your handicap – the most important part of golf is enjoying the game!


Whether you’re looking to get a golf handicap or improve on your current one, Rio Real Golf Academy has the course for you. All tailor-made and suited to your needs and level of play. Sign up for yours now. 



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