What Is A Plus Handicap In Golf? Unveiling Secrets Of The Elite Golfers: Improve Your Game Today

By Anthony Mahone
Updated on
Hand pointing towards a plus sign that has gradually gotten bigger. This represents what a plus handicap in golf is.

Imagine consistently scoring below par on the golf course, earning a reputation as a top-level golfer. It’s an achievement that many golfers dream of, but only a select few manage to attain: the status of a plus handicap golfer. This rare accomplishment represents the pinnacle of golfing status, setting these players apart. But what is a plus handicap in golf, and how can you work toward achieving this prestigious distinction?

This blog post will explore the ins and outs of “What is a plus handicap in golf”? From understanding the critical concepts to becoming a plus handicap golfer and comparing their skill level to scratch golfers. We’ll also delve into the world of professional golfers with plus handicaps, the impact of plus handicaps on various types of competitions, and the accomplishments of female golfers in this elite handicap category.

Plus Handicap Golf Key Takeaways

  • Plus Handicaps signify exceptional skill and dedication in golf, with a lower handicap index reflecting the ability to compete at an elite level.

  • Golfers can achieve plus handicap status by mastering distance control & course management, tracking performance & analyzing weaknesses, and consistently practicing their physical and mental game.

  • Plus Handicaps provide an exciting challenge for stroke play/match play competitions. Female golfers have achieved remarkable success, inspiring others to do the same.

Is A Plus Handicap Good In Golf?

Picture showing what is a plus handicap in golf.

Yes, a plus handicap player is good at golf. But what does it mean?

A plus handicap in golf signifies a golfer’s handicap index lower than zero. Such players consistently outperform par, distinguishing them from others. It impacts the net score by requiring the addition of strokes to the gross score in stroke play and match play competitions. Therefore, this should be integrated into their score for better outcomes, given that plus handicap golfers have lower handicap indexes.

The handicap system in golf creates a level playing field, allowing golfers of different skill levels to compete fairly against one another. Plus handicaps are relatively rare, with only around 0.18% of men and 0.05% of women achieving this status, representing the same percentage of exceptional skill and dedication required to reach this level of play.

Handicap In Golf Brief Overview

Golf handicaps are a numerical value that represents the golfer’s ability based on their previous golf round scores.

For more, check out What Is A Handicap In Golf?

Course Handicap and Handicap Index

A course handicap is an essential number that indicates how many handicap strokes a golfer receives at a specific golf course. It is used to adjust hole scores for net double bogey and net par, ultimately helping players improve their game. The handicap formula plays a crucial role in calculating the course handicap, ensuring fair competition among golfers.

A golfer’s handicap index, on the other hand, is a measure of their playing ability and is used to determine their playing handicap in different competitions. A plus handicapper must consistently perform at a high level, resulting in a handicap index lower than zero.

This accomplishment highlights the golfer’s ability to compete at an elite level, distinguishing them from most golfers with higher handicap indexes.

Course Rating and Slope Rating

The course rating and slope rating significantly influence a golfer’s handicap. The former, a numerical value, signifies the course’s difficulty for a scratch golfer. Conversely, the slope rating measures the course’s relative difficulty for a bogey golfer when compared to a scratch golfer.

Comprehending both the course rating and slope rating enables golfers to assess different courses’ difficulty and adjust their handicap allowances. This knowledge proves exceedingly beneficial in enhancing their handicap and boosting performance in stroke play competitions, especially when playing the same course multiple times.

Achieving Plus Handicap Golf Status

The golfer poses after hitting a good golf shot on the driving range.

Transitioning into a plus handicap golfer demands unwavering dedication, practice, and the constant quest for enhancement. Regular play on challenging courses fosters skill development and mastering distance control in different shots like:

  • pitches

  • chips

  • sand shots

  • putts

is vital for reaching this respected level. Concentrating on these aspects can elevate performance and pave the way to the esteemed plus handicap golfer status.

In addition to playing challenging courses and mastering distances, aspiring plus handicap golfers should also pay close attention to course management, tracking their performance, and consistently practicing both their physical and mental game.

Positive Handicap Golfers Master Distances and Golf Course Management

Knowledge of the distance each club can reach and efficient course management are indispensable skills for golfers aiming for positive handicap golf status. Refining these abilities can substantially reduce scores and boost overall performance, leading to consistent enhancements across various game aspects.

To master distances in golf, golfers should practice different techniques, such as:

  • Working on distance control with their irons

  • Experimenting with various methods to hit wedges at different distances

  • Utilizing golf gadgets or training aids to improve accuracy

By focusing on these techniques and applying them consistently, golfers can elevate their game and enhance, lower their handicap, and achieve a plus handicap in golf.

Plus Handicap Players Track Performance and Analyze Weaknesses

Recognizing areas for improvement and monitoring personal performance are essential steps towards becoming a superior golfer and eventually attaining a plus handicap status. Detailed analysis of weaknesses and concentrating on improvements can help lower scores and realize ambitions.

Tracking performance can be done in various ways, such as:

  • keeping scorecards

  • recording statistics

  • using golf tracking apps

  • seeking advice from a golf professional

  • using a golf simulator

Implementing these methods allows golfers to pinpoint their weaknesses, set goals, and measure their progress, ultimately helping them become better players.

Consistent Practice and Mental Focus

Persistent practice and mental concentration are the foundation for becoming a plus handicap golfer. Regular practice and refining the mental game aspects can significantly enhance a golfer’s scores and assist in goal achievement. Devoting time and effort to both physical and mental aspects of golf can guide players towards the esteemed plus handicap status.

Some effective ways to practice golf include:

  • Playing simulated holes

  • Hitting shots to different targets with random clubs

  • Using training aids and technology

  • Practicing in front of a mirror or window

  • Incorporating tempo drills

Additionally, taking time between shots and focusing on the mental aspects of the game can help golfers stay focused and maximize their performance.

Plus Handicap Golfers vs. Scratch Golfers

Both plus handicap golfers and scratch golfers epitomize high skill and performance levels in the golfing realm. However, they differ significantly. Scratch golfers possess a handicap index of 0.0, restricting them to level par play, whereas plus handicap golfers, with a handicap index below zero, can add strokes to their scores in both stroke play and match play competitions.

This distinction demonstrates that plus handicap golfers typically possess a higher skill level than scratch golfers, as they are able to consistently perform better than par. In head-to-head competition, plus handicap golfers often showcase superior performance due to their ability to achieve scores lower than par with consistency.

Plus Handicaps Among Professional Golfers

Among professional golfers, many have estimated plus handicaps, despite lacking an official handicap index. For example, the average index for a PGA Tour player from 2016-2020 stood at an impressive +5.4. The top 13 players during this period would likely secure a 10-stroke advantage over the average golfer on their home course, providing a significant advantage when playing on familiar grounds.

Approximately 1.85% of male golfers and 0.69% of female golfers are plus handicap players among professional golfers, showcasing the immense skill and talent required to achieve this status. These exceptional golfers represent the sport’s upper echelon and inspire countless others to strive for greatness on the golf course.

The Impact of Plus Handicap on Stroke Play and Match Play Competitions

In stroke play, a plus handicap can provide an extra challenge to players during a stroke play competition by requiring them to add extra strokes to their score. The number of strokes added is determined by the handicap allowance table, typically starting from the 18th stroke hole. This adjustment ensures fairness and equal opportunities for players with varying handicaps, making the competition even more thrilling.

In match play competitions, a plus handicap can provide a golfer with a certain number of strokes on certain holes, giving them a beneficial advantage in the match. The number of strokes given is determined by the handicap allowance table, typically starting from the 18th stroke hole. This adjustment ensures everyone has a fair chance and equal opportunity to compete, regardless of their handicap.

Female Golfers with Plus Handicaps

Female professional plus handicap golfer

Female golfers with plus handicaps represent a small but impressive group of players who have achieved a high skill level. Around 0.69% of female golfers have plus handicaps, which is a significant accomplishment. These elite players have attained remarkable success in various tournaments and competitions, including the US Women’s Open and the LPGA Tour.

The achievements of female golfers with plus handicaps serve as an inspiration to others, demonstrating that hard work, dedication, and passion can lead to incredible success in the sport. By pushing the boundaries of what is possible and consistently performing at a high level, these women continue to make their mark on golf history.

Notable Plus Handicap Records in Golf History

Tiger Woods walking golf handicap

Throughout golf history, there have been numerous notable plus handicap records that showcase the exceptional talent and skill of the world’s best golfers. Golf legends like Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler have achieved peak handicap index ratings of +8 and +8.4, respectively, during their prime years.

Other remarkable plus handicap golfers include Annika Sorenstam, who had a peak handicap index rating of +3.4, and Michelle Wie, with a peak handicap index rating of +4.2. These remarkable records testify to the incredible skill and passion of golfers who have achieved the prestigious status of a plus handicap player.

Plus Handicap Golf Summary

Throughout this blog post, we have explored the fascinating world of plus handicaps in golf, delving into the key concepts, the journey to becoming a plus handicap golfer, and the achievements of some of the most talented players in the sport. The rare accomplishment of a plus handicap represents the pinnacle of golfing prowess, showcasing the dedication, skill, and passion required to reach this elite level.

As you continue to hone your skills and pursue your passion for golf, may the stories and insights shared here inspire you to strive for greatness on the course. Whether you’re an aspiring plus handicap golfer or simply looking to improve your game, remember that with hard work, dedication, and a relentless pursuit of improvement, anything is possible.

Plus Handicap FAQ

Is plus or minus golf handicap better?

A golfer with a plus handicap index adds strokes to his gross score, rather than subtracting them, to determine a net score – making a plus handicap better.

What does a +2 golf handicap mean?

A +2 golf handicap means you typically shoot two strokes under par. This places you ahead of the majority of recreational golfers and puts you at a similar level to PGA Tour Professionals.

How do plus handicaps in golf work?

Plus handicaps are when a golfer’s handicap index is lower than zero. In such cases, the golfer has to add strokes to their score, beginning with the hole with stroke index 18. For example, a player with a +2 Playing Handicap would give strokes back to the course at the holes with stroke index 18 and 17.

How can I become a plus handicap golfer?

With dedication, practice, and smart course management you can become a plus handicap golfer. Focus on mastering distances and honing the mental aspects of the game and track your performance for consistent progress.

What is the difference between a plus handicap golfer and a scratch golfer?

Plus handicap golfers have a handicap index below 0 and can add strokes to their score, whereas scratch golfers have a 0.0 handicap index and must play to level par.

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Anthony is the founder of Swingcrafters and a lover of all things golf. Anthony was the individual champion of the 2005 West Virginia State Golf Tournament and worked as the Assistant Golf Professional at Heatherwoode Golf Club in Ohio. He is a career Firefighter/Paramedic and loves the outdoors.