What is the Playing Handicap Calculation in Golf?

With the new World Handicapping System (WHS) now widely established, how is your Playing Handicap calculation worked out?

Upon submitting your scores to the TSG Handicap Calculator, you will gain your Handicap Index.


This, in turn, is then adjusted to a Course Handicap (depending on the Slope, Rating and Tees listed on the course you are playing).


However, there is one more calculation golfers should be aware of when playing ‘Competition Golf’.


Depending on the criteria set out by the golf event organiser on the day, and the type of format you’re playing in, your handicap will require a further adjustment. This is what we call the ‘Playing Handicap’.


Here are the recommended calculations and allowances to follow.


N.B. All Percentages are off the Course Handicap

Handicap table

Handicap Allowance for the Individual Golfer

  • Foursomes x 50% Combined
  • Greensomes x 60% of the Lowest Handicapped Player
  • Greensomes x 40% of the Highest Handicapped Player
  • Pairs Competition x 85% 
  • Pairs Match Play x 90%
  • Individual Competition x 95%
  • Individual Competition x 95%
  • Matchplay Singles x 100%

Handicap Allowance for team events

  • 1 score of 4 counting x 75%
  • 2 scores of 4 counting x 85%
  • 3 scores of 4 counting x 100%
Golf Playing Handicap Calculation

Please note: When analysing your scores, post event, you will see that for handicapping purposes, your Course Handicap will be the metric that is used, regardless of the above calculation, or that used by the tournament officials on the day.

In other words, your TSG Handicap Index is worked out from your full ‘Course handicap‘ e.g., the percentages shown above are to be used for competition purposes ONLY.

Happy Golfing!

By Kevin Booth