What Is The Average Golf Handicap?

Have you ever wondered how your handicap compares to the average golfer? Well, wonder no more...

What Is The Average Golf Handicap? Golfer hitting a tee shot with an inset image of a scorecard and pencil
How does your handicap compare to the average golfer?
(Image credit: Getty Images/Future)

Having a golf handicap allows players to track and measure their performance, while also disclosing their ability level to other players so that competitions and matches can be played fairly – but what is the average golf handicap for men and women?

What Is The Average Golf Handicap For Men And Women In The UK?

In December 2023, England iGolf reported in an article that a male golfers average WHS index is 16, while it's 28 for female players.

The maximum golf handicap index for men and women is 54, although finding a maximum handicap golfer is rare with less than one percent of registered golfers in the UK reported to hold it.

What Is The Average Golf Handicap For Men And Women In The US?

In the US, it’s a similar picture, with the average registered handicap being 14 for men and 27 for women, according to data from the USGA, published in January 2024.

The most common handicap index range for men was 10-14.9, accounting for 26 percent of players in the USA. For women, the most common range was 25-29.9, with 19 percent of players falling into that category.

Those requiring the maximum 54 handicap were extremely few in number, with just 0.07 percent of men and 4.1 percent of women requiring it. That adds up to a combined 21,844 golfers in the US, out of a total of more than 3.2 million.

What Is A Handicap And How Does It Work?

The World Handicap System (WHS) was introduced in January 2020 and presents one way of calculating and allotting a handicap in 119 countries. Previously, each jurisdiction had its own requirements and methods of doing so.

While there were teething troubles with the WHS, in general, the system remains a trusted means of measuring a player's ability and gives them a chance to compete with other players of differing abilities.

The WHS determines a Handicap Index based on the average of the best eight scores from a player’s last 20 rounds. Then, it calculates the number of shots a golfer receives on a particular course according to its playing difficulty.

The maximum golf handicap index is 54 for men and women, with the course handicap combining the Handicap Index number with the course difficulty. It's worth noting that, while the two numbers are very often the same, depending on where you're playing, the course Handicap can be far higher.

Mike Hall
News Writer

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.