What Is a High Handicapper In Golf? A Complete Guide

what is a high handicapper in golf?

Golf is a game that encompasses a wide range of skill levels, from beginners taking their first swing to seasoned professionals. One important aspect of golf is understanding the concept of handicaps, which measure a player’s skill relative to par. 

Among the various handicap categories, the term “high handicapper” is the friendliest way for beginner golfers and those with relatively low experience/skill levels to have an equitable, level playing field on the course, from the tee to the green.   

In this comprehensive guide, we explore the world of high handicappers in golf: 

  • What is considered a high handicapper?
  • What kind of clubs high handicap golfers rely on
  • How to calculate your handicap?

Now let’s dive into the details!

golf ball and driver

What Is A High Handicapper in Golf?

Before we get into what a high handicapper is, let’s start by first introducing you to what precisely a handicap is: 

What Is A Golf Handicap? 

A handicap is a numerical representation of a golfer’s playing ability. 

Handicaps are used to level the playing field between competing golfers of varied skill and experience levels, helping to ensure that fair, equitable play is at the heart of the experience. The handicap system enables players of varying abilities to enjoy a competitive game together.

To ensure fair play, additional accommodations are usually made for a high-handicap golfer, like bonus strokes or “handicap strokes” during a round to compensate.

golf balls on green

What Is A High Handicap in Golf?

For high handicappers, you’ll typically be operating off of a 19-29 handicap, where your overall course score ranges between the high 90s and mid 100s. For high handicappers, your biggest goal is consistently breaking the 100 barrier. 

This handicap casts the widest net among the golfing community, as almost 55% of male and 81% of female golfers fit within the highest handicap bracket.

Aspects Of A High Handicap Golfer

  • You’re Building Your Foundation: You’re developing your skills and building the foundation to improve all aspects of your game, including your course management, ball flight, contact, form, and swing mechanics; you’re very much a beginner, or you haven’t had the opportunity to practice effectively.
  • Limited Control: You struggle with inconsistent ball striking and limited distance control, be it through the ability to hit longer shots or frequent mishits and poor accuracy. 
  • Seeking Improvement: Golfers with high handicaps desire to improve their skills and lower their handicaps. They may seek instructor guidance, take lessons, or engage in practice sessions to enhance their technique and understanding of the game.
man putting on the green

What Is A Mid-Handicapper in Golf?

For mid handicappers, you’re working with a 12-18 handicap, while your score tends to float around the mid-high 80s to high 90s. For mid-handicappers, your biggest concern is breaking 90. 

Characteristic Keys Of A Mid-Handicapper

  • You Have Varied Performance: For mid handicappers, you exhibit a mix of good shots with the occasional error; your performance tends to vary from round to round, with some inconsistencies in ball striking and scoring.
  • Mastered The Basics: You’ve got the basics down and truly understand the mechanics, rules, etiquette, and overall fundamentals of the game we all love. 
  • Developing Your Game With Continued Improvement: You continue to hone and refine your game, which includes an intermediate understanding of course management and developing your ball-striking consistency and short game to eliminate those occasional, high-scoring rounds.

What Is A Low Handicapper in Golf?

And finally, what is a low handicapper? A low handicapper falls between 0-11. A low-handicap golfer tends to score within the 70s. Your active challenge is breaking 80 by drastically reducing the number of triple bogeys on your scorecard. 

Characteristic Keys Of A Low Handicapper

  • Consistent Ball Striking: Work to excel in proper swing mechanics and focus your efforts on controlling your clubface speed, impact positioning, and ball flight. 
  • Short Game Proficiency: Your pitching, chipping, and putting should be a facet of your game you can bank on; you got the touch while not racking up the shot count to bogie as soon as you touch the fairway. 
  • Course Management: Develop confidence in your ability to read and analyze lie’s, course shape, greens, and playing conditions. You can accurately visualize where your ball will travel depending on the characteristics of a given hole and based on a demonstrated experience of golfing.
golfer swinging driver

Handicap Level Comparison Table

Handicap Level Stroke Differential

How To Calculate Your Handicap?

Follow the step-by-step guide below to accurately calculate the handicap that fits your experience and skill level on the course: 

  1. Scoring: Keep track of all your strokes; you’ll also need to keep track and know the course par, slope, and rating. 
  1. Adding: Add up all—that’s right, all—your strokes. You’ll determine your handicap by subtracting your number of strokes from the course par. With that figure, you’ll be left with either a positive number, a negative number, or a scratch (i.e., equalling par). 
  1. Experience: You’ll need to play at least 20 games of 18 holes to gather an accurate spread of how you play and what handicap would best serve you. Keep scoring and adding your strokes together. 
  1. The Grand Total: Total all your strokes for 20 games and subtract the course rating from your average. Also, remove your five highest and five lowest scores. Lastly, multiply that number by 113; just like that, you’ve deciphered your golf handicap index.
red golf club set

What Is A High Golf Handicapper’s Go-To Clubs To Improve?

For high handicappers looking to improve, below you’ll find some recommended club selections for your next trip to the course:

The Rule Of Thumb: Forgiveness  

When shopping for clubs,” forgiveness” is your friend, and you should consider any club or set marketed as such. 

Forgiving clubs allow you to drive off-center, hit your irons flat, or be less precise with your clubface angle while giving you better contact and control than clubs for mid or scratch players. 

What Is A High Handicapper’s Driver?

We’d suggest using a driver with a minimum of 10.5° of loft for high handicappers. 

You’re still working on achieving consistent, repeatable ball contact; the higher loft will give you a more significant launch angle and increase your chances of achieving optimal ball flight. 

Also, look for drivers with a lightweight shaft and some added flexibility. You’ll be able to achieve proper clubhead speed, allowing you to generate more distance, while a shaft with flexibility gives you more forgiveness on your backswing. The best material that combines these qualities is a graphite shaft.

golf cart on fairway

What Is A High Handicapper’s Irons?

For irons, try to find any club that’s cavity-backed or perimeter-weighted. Cavity back irons have a hollowed-out back, redistributing the weight around the perimeter. 

This design increases the moment of inertia (MOI) and forgiveness. They provide a more prominent sweet spot and consistent ball speeds, making them ideal for high handicappers who struggle with consistent ball striking. 

The larger the sweet spot, the greater your chances of proper ball contact and desired flight. 

What Is A High Handicapper’s Wedges?

Beginner sets for the casual golfer with high handicap lack wedges; high handicap players need a great, reliable wedge to get out of bunkers and sand traps. 

It would be best to look for wedges that make it easy to get through your surface (i.e., sand, rough, etc.). These wedges will reduce your shots out of the teeth and your duffs. 

golf course and carts

What Is A High Handicapper’s Putter?

Add a mallet putter to your bag if you’re a high-handicap golfer. Mallets are engineered with a heightened center of gravity, allowing a balanced, controlled stroke even if you’re hitting off-center. 

What Is A High Handicapper’s Ball?

If you’re a high handicapper, chances are your goal is to finish your 18 holes with as many balls remaining in your bag as possible, without them disappearing on you either in the rough, trees, or water. 

In this regard, I’d recommend getting as many balls in bulk as possible for the cheapest price. You could own a sleeve of the most premium golf balls, but they’ll be ultimately useless if they trip to the bottom of the pond!

birds eye view golf course

Key Takeaways 

A high handicapper in golf refers to a player with a higher numerical handicap, typically comprised of beginners or players with limited experience. 

High handicappers face challenges in terms of accuracy, distance, and consistency. However, with dedication, practice, and utilizing the appropriate equipment, high handicappers can gradually enhance their skills and enjoy the game to its fullest potential.

For high handicappers, by understanding your unique needs and strategies, you can embark on a rewarding journey to lower your handicap and achieve greater success on the course.

Finding the game hard? Check out six tips on how to improve quickly!

golf green and tee
Photo of author
After graduating from the Professional Golf Management program in Palm Springs, CA, I moved back to Toronto, Canada, turned pro and became a Class 'A' member of the PGA of Canada. I then began working at some of the city's most prominent country clubs. While this was exciting, it wasn't as fulfilling as teaching, and I made the change from a pro shop professional to a teaching professional. Within two years, I was the Lead Teaching Professional at one of Toronto's busiest golf instruction facilities. Since then, I've stepped back from the stress of running a successful golf academy to focus on helping golfers in a different way. Knowledge is key so improving a players golf IQ is crucial when choosing things like the right equipment or how to cure a slice. As a writer I can help a wide range of people while still having a little time to golf myself!

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