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Here’s how your golf game stacks up against golfers in the United States

So, you fancy yourself a golfer, eh? Well you may know how your handicap stacks up against your buddies or the regulars at your club, but how does your game compare to the rest of the United States?

The USGA recently updated its handicap index statistics, offering an intriguing glimpse into the numbers we all care so deeply about (whether we like to admit it or not).

The USGA gathered all of its official registered handicaps — the USGA’s Golf Handicap Information Network (GHIN) has more than 2 million registered golfers — for both men and women within the United States. There are two specific breakdowns: a bar graph showcasing the most common handicap index ranges using raw numbers, and a table that breaks down each handicap index by percentile.

You can check out the bar graphs here, and we’ll get into some interesting findings below.


So how does your handicap stack up? Here are 8 takeaways:

1. The average handicap index for men is 14.2.

2. The average handicap index for women is 27.5.

3. The most common handicap index range for men is 13.0-13.9, which consists of 5.42% or just more than 95,000 golfers. But the 13-handicappers in the U.S. are barely the most common, holding just one-hundredth of an edge over the second-most common handicap, 12.0-12.9 (5.41%). That’s also slightly more than the third-most common handicap, 14.0-14.9, which is 5.37%.

4. The most common women’s handicap is in the 27.0-27.9 range, which consists of 4.07%, or just under 18,000 golfers.

5. There’s a logjam of men’s golfers who are low double-digit handicaps. Nearly one-quarter of men (21.16%) have handicaps ranging from 10.0-13.9.

6. Are you a male with a 13.9 handicap or lower? Then you’re better than half the men with registered USGA handicaps, as 50.5% of handicaps are below 14.

7. If your goal is to be in the top 10 percent of men’s golfers, here’s the handicap you need: 4.9 or better. According to the statistics, 9.77% — or roughly 170,000-plus people — have handicaps below 5. And if you are looking to be in the top 5 percent of golfers, you need to sneak into that 2-handicap range. To be in the top 10 percent of women’s players you need a handicap of 14.9 or better.

8. Just how many scratch players are there? Perhaps more than you’d think. There are 35,883 men’s and women’s players with a plus handicap index (i.e. below 0.0). That number makes up 1.85% of men’s golfers and 0.69% of women’s players.


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2 thoughts on “Here’s how your golf game stacks up against golfers in the United States

  1. blank

    And how many golfers keep a handicap? I’d guess there are a lot more than 2 million golfers in the U.S. and that most of them are more than happy if they can break 50 for 9 holes. Golfers like that rarely keep handicaps. I’d wager that the vast majority of golfers don’t even start thinking seriously about keeping a handicap until they can shoot below bogey and have a number they can be somewhat proud of.

    1. blank

      Kirk H, how true you are. I’m on a tropical island with a 9 hole golf course, and the greens are concrete with a layer of astro turf, and worn down at that. Several of us can stick it within several feet of the pin, but then it skyrockets! I don’t know if it has to be a USGA golf course or not, but at least we have something on Diego Garcia.

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