Posting Scores and Maintaining a Handicap


Posting golf scores on a regular basis creates a Handicap Index that reflects one’s playing ability. Based on your scores and the relative difficulty of the courses and tees you play, your Index will work on any course, worldwide, that has a Course Rating™ and a Slope Rating®. Most important, an Index promotes:

  • Fair games during casual rounds with friends
  • Tracks the progress of your game
  • Enables you to play in competitions that require an Index to participate in prize pools
  • Equity among players of different skills and/or playing different tees

In the USA, the Handicap Index is known as a “GHIN” Index. In Canada, it is known as the Golf Canada Handicap Index. Both are calculated the same way.

Your Index is normally based on the “best” eight (8) rounds of the most recent 20 rounds (18-hole equivalents) you have played. However, when you are first establishing your Index, it can be calculated using as few as 54 holes played (any combination of 9-hole and 18-hole rounds). It will, then, recalculate as more rounds are played and posted.


NOTE: When posting scores, please adhere to the following:

  • Post all eligible 9-hole and 18-hole rounds you play. Eligible rounds include those played with another player or a non-playing witness (e.g., not alone); played without limitations as to type and number of clubs used; played in a “normal” stroke-play or best-ball format; played during the course’s open posting period (In WA, the posting period is March 1 – November 15.)
  • Post rounds the same day played (before Midnight local time, if possible). Your Index calculates daily at Midnight whenever you post a new score. Scores posted after Midnight are not included until the following day and do not benefit from any Playing Condition score adjustment that might have been in effect on the day the round was played.
  • When posting a score, include the following additional data: Date played, course name, tees played, and whether it was Home or Away. (NOTE: If they do not automatically “populate”, you may have to manually enter course slope and rating values for the tees played, but that is not common.)
  • Know your Course Handicap (CH) and use it when appropriate. A player’s Course Handicap is determined once their Handicap Index is established. Its value represents the number of strokes needed to play a course to par for the tees played. A Course Handicap determines the number of strokes used to adjust scores on individual holes (played or not played) so that posted scores do not exceed the maximum allowed for a hole (net double bogey). The CH also determines “net double bogey” and “net par” for holes not played or not holed out. 
  • For posting purposes, no hole score can exceed a maximum value (net double bogey). The Maximum Score for a hole = Par + 2 + the “Handicap Stroke(s)” for the hole). Actual hole scores greater than the maximum value must be adjusted to “net double bogey” at the time of posting. (NOTE: Hole scores are not adjusted for tournament purposes, only when posting.
  • Post scores hole-by-hole (online, if possible, using the GHIN app’ or If you post hole-by-hole, maximum score adjustments are automatically made for you. (If you want, this can be done on a cell phone while you play.) If, however, you do not post hole-by-hole, you must manually adjust your 9 or 18-hole total score, reducing the total score posted to account for holes where “net double bogey” scores were exceeded.
  • The USGA allows the recording of scores for “holes not played” if at least 7 of 9 holes of a 9-hole round were played or at least 14 holes of an 18-hole round were played and/or when some holes were not “holed out” (i.e., the ball was picked up before it was putted out or holes were conceded, as in match play). Strokes are added for the affected holes, just as if they were played or holed out. (See POSTING A “NON-NORMAL” 9-HOLE OR 18-HOLE SCORE)


Rule 3 of the Rules of Handicapping (Adjustment of Hole Scores) lets golfers record scores for holes not played or not finished, so that “complete” 9-hole or 18-hole rounds can be posted, as long as the required minimum number of holes were played (see above).

FEWER THAN 9 OR 18 HOLES PLAYED (some holes not played)

Record and post scores for holes not played by assigning a stroke value = Net Par (Par + Handicap Stroke(s) for the hole). Example: On a par-4 hole, where 2 Handicap Strokes might apply for the hole based on a players Course Handicap, a score of 6 would be recorded for the hole not played (Net Par = 4 (par) + 2 (handicap strokes) = 6).


Record and post a score for a hole where the ball was not holed out by: Start with the number of strokes taken before the ball was picked up (including any penalty strokes); then, using the guidelines in Rule 3.3, Rules of Handicapping, add to that number the number of strokes most likely required to complete the hole from where the ball was picked up. For posting purposes, an “estimated” score that exceeds the “maximum stroke” value for the hole (“net double bogey”), must be adjusted just as if the hole was finished.


The proper posting of scores and understanding your handicap can be confusing at times. But, with repetition and time, it will become more familiar. However, if you have any questions or need help, feel free to contact a Handicap Committee member at mailto:[email protected].


Visit the USGA’s website for a variety of education resources about the World Handicap System and Rules of Handicapping.