How to Convert Your Golf Handicap Index Into Strokes

Friends playing golf.
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If you have a USGA handicap index, you'll need to convert it into a course handicap before starting your round. It's course handicap that tells you how many handicap strokes you are allowed during a round of golf.

But just how do you go about converting a handicap index into a course handicap? Well, you could do the math. Or you could simply use a nifty online course handicap calculator that does the math for you.

The USGA's Course Handicap Calculator

Course handicap is part of the USGA Handicap System, so if you need to know yours you might as well go to the source. There is a course handicap calculator on the USGA website with inputs for your handicap index and slope rating. Provide your information, click the "Calculate" button, and there you go: your course handicap.

If for some reason you don't want to use the USGA's calculator, or have trouble using it, just do an online search for "course handicap calculator." You'll find many sites that provide one, including the websites of many of the USGA's state and regional associations, and some PGA of America sections also have calculators on their websites. Some golf courses also provide the calculator on their sites.

Finding Your Slope Rating

If you don't know the slope rating of the golf course you'll be playing, check the golf course's website. They probably have it listed or provide a scan of the course's scorecard.

You can also contact the golf course and ask. Additionally, you can use the USGA's course rating and slope rating database to look up the course's slope rating.

Old School Course Handicap Conversion Tables

Before computers, smartphones, online calculators, and apps, golfers had two ways to calculate their course handicap.

They either did the math or checked the USGA's course handicap conversion tables.

The conversion tables are charts, one for each slope rating from 55 up to 155. Each table lists a handicap index range and shows you what that converts to for the given slope.

A golfer with a 17.5 handicap index playing a golf course with a slope rating of 133 would find the table labeled "Slope 133," find his index of 17.5 on the list, and look across to the corresponding course handicap (in this example, 21).

Some golf courses had these charts posted on a wall or bulletin board, others kept them in binders for golfers to consult, and others put the responsibility on their pros for looking up course handicaps for customers who wanted them. Some did all three. Some golf courses still have the charts available.

The Course Handicap Conversion Tables are nearly obsolete these days, but the USGA still makes them available