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Beating your handicap

Both performance and enjoyment are influenced by what you expected to, or feel you should have achieved. So if your handicap is a fair reflection of your ability, on the new world handicap system, how often should you expect to better it?

According to stats guru Lou Stagner, who is Data Insights lead at Arccos Golf:

a golfer should only beat their handicap 1 in 5 rounds if their handicap is legit

And what about going really low? He says statistically, beating your handicap by 3 shots or more should only happen 1 in 20 rounds.

The current World Handicap System calculates golfers' handicap indexes based on their best eight scores from their last 20 rounds - meaning most players should have four scores out of the 20 that are below their handicap.


If your enjoyment of the game is diluted by a narrative saying you have failed if you don't play to or below your handicap, let this stat give you a healthy perspective. Strive to improve, but playing a few shots above your handicap is an acceptable outcome, particularly if you gave it your best shot on the day.

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