Handicap FAQs

Establishing and maintaining a handicap is an important and essential part of the game of golf. Knowing your handicap is one of the best ways to assess how you are playing. The handicap system is used to make the competition between players of differing skill levels more even. Having a handicap therefore adds to the enjoyment of golf because it allows you to participate in—and possibly win—at outings and in competitive play, even against players who may be better than you.

The LPGA Amateur Golf Association encourages all of our members to obtain and maintain a handicap.  All LPGA Amateurs members have access to the handicap system - GN21 which is powered by GolfNet.  This system calculates a handicap index based on requirements set forth by the USGA so LPGA Amateurs members who utilize GN21 are receiving official USGA handicap indexes.

GN21 Instructions

To access the GN21 system to enter your scores, you must go to Member Login.

What is a handicap?
A handicap is a number that represents your skill level and potential scoring ability. Generally speaking, your handicap value is representative of how you should expect to score in relation to par. It represents your best performance, not your average performance, and takes into consideration your adjusted gross score, the tees you played from, the course rating and the course slope.

What is the difference between a handicap index and a course handicap?
The Handicap Index is the calculation that indicates a player's potential ability on a course of standard playing difficulty. Your Handicap Index is based on your 10 best scores of your 20 most recent scores. This number travels with you to whatever course you play. The maximum Handicap Index for women is 40.4.

Your real handicap is the Course Handicap for the particular course you are playing. The Course Handicap is determined by an adjustment to your Handicap Index based on the difficulty of the course you are playing. There are charts at every clubhouse/pro shop so that players can determine their Course Handicap based on their Handicap Index. You can also calculate your Course Handicap—the formula is: your Handicap Index divided by the course slope multiplied by 113 (standard course slope).

What is Equitable Stroke Control (ESC)?
ESC is the maximum number of strokes you can take on any hole based on your Course Handicap for the particular course you are playing. This system is in place by the USGA to eliminate the effect of disaster holes. Once you know your Course Handicap you can determine your ESC which indicates the maximum number of strokes you can take on any hole for that course. If your ESC for a course is 9, then 9 is your max on any hole (and yes, that includes par 3s). Below is a chart showing the ESC based on Course Handicaps:

Course Handicap  ESC - Max Score on any hole 
 9 or less Double bogey (2 over par for each hole)
10-19 7
20-29 8
30-39 9
40 or above 10

Why would I want to maintain a handicap?
Establishing and maintaining a handicap is an important and essential part of the game of golf. The benefits of maintaining a handicap include the ability to compete with golfers of other skill levels on an equitable basis on any course, from any tees. It also provides an objective way to measure golf skill improvement. An official handicap is required to compete in some of golf outings and competitive tournaments.

What are my responsibilities in maintaining a handicap?
As with all aspects of golf, the handicap system expects honesty and integrity from its participants. It is your individual responsibility as a golfer to post your scores and maintain your handicap. All individuals maintaining an official handicap therefore have the following responsibilities:


  • Post every eligible score during the posting season. In New York, the posting season is from the beginning of April through the end of October.

  • Play all rounds eligible for posting under the USGA Rules of Golf.

  • Make an effort to make the best score on each hole of every round played.

  • Post a score even if you have only played 13 of 18 holes or at least 7 of 9 holes. On the holes you did not play, record a par plus any handicap strokes you would have received based on your ESC.

Do I need a handicap to join LPGA Amateur Golf Association?
No, but you do need one to participate in all of our leagues (except the rookie league) as well as the LPGA Amateurs Championship  which includes the Chapter Championship and the LPGA Amateurs Cup.

How much does it cost to maintain a handicap with LPGA Amateur Golf Association?
Handicap service through GN21 is a part of all levels of membership in LPGA Amateur Golf Association.

What if I only play 9 holes rounds—can I still get a handicap?
Yes, just enter your 9 hole score and the system will automatically add two nine hole scores together.  

How do I keep track of my handicap?
Logon to your individual member profile and GN21 account via the Member Login on www.lpgaamateurs.com. If you post all your scores regularly your handicap index will be up-to-date. The handicap index is the last calculated handicap. The handicap trend shows the projected handicap index based on the additional scores entered since the last calculation.

How often is my handicap updated?
The system recalculates and updates the handicap index every 2 weeks during the posting season.

What if I still want to keep my handicap through a golf club other than LPGA Amateurs?
You may maintain multiple handicaps with different services as long at you enter all scores with each service (i.e. GN21, GHIN, etc.). The revision schedule for all services is the same. Scores need to be entered in both services before the revision date deadline to insure that the index for each system is the same.

Will I be eligible for non-LPGA Amateurs tournaments using my GN21 handicap?
Check with the organization that is running the tournament to make sure they will accept the GN21 handicaps. While it is a valid USGA handicap, some golf associations and/or clubs may not be familiar with the GN21 system and may not accept it as valid.

Why do I have to join a club to get a handicap?
The USGA does not provide handicaps directly to individuals. All handicaps must be maintained through a golf club. If you are a member at a local course, you likely have already paid the necessary dues to maintain a handicap with that golf club. The LPGA Amateurs Westchester Chapter is a "golf club" and LPGA Amateurs members are therefore provided access to the GN21 handicap service.

I've seen online handicapping services for free. Can I use one of those?
You could, but at this time, a handicap kept through one of those services will not be an official USGA Handicap and you will not be eligible for tournament play.

Where can I find out more about handicaps and the handicap system?
The United States Golf Association (USGA) should be considered the official resource for handicap information. You can also contact the LPGA Amateurs Westchester Chapter Handicap Chair at