How often should I play to, or beat, my handicap?

If it’s accurate, you should average about three shots above your handicap. For example, a player with a course handicap of 16 on a course with a rating of 71.1 should score on average about 90. The handicap system is based on 96 percent of the best 10 of a golfer’s last 20 rounds, not simply average score.

Scores normally fit into the classic bell-shaped curve. More than half of your scores should be within three strokes of three over your handicap. In other words, taking our 16-handicapper, more than half of the rounds should be between 87 and 93. The player will better the handicap — shooting 87 or lower — only about 20 percent of the time, or once every five rounds. Golfers should only beat their handicap by three strokes one out of every 20 rounds.

Advertisements