Posted by & filed under Playing Tips.

First things first, everyone can obtain a golf handicap. This applies to casual golfers as well as members of clubs, and it doesn’t need to be as complicated as you might imagine.

Put simply—it is a measure of your golfing ability, so if you are playing with someone better or worse than you, then the handicap system is in place to ensure you can enjoy a fair game.

The World Handicap System (WHS) was launched in 2020 and provides an official handicap to golfers anywhere in the world. It was brought in to unify six existing systems into a single system so that golfers can compete on an equal basis.

Let’s take a look at how you to work out your golf handicap.


How to work out your golf handicap

how to work out your golf handicap

There are several terms to get your head around, but the good news is that they’re already calculated, so you won’t have to do anything with them. These are:

Bogey Rating

This is the measure of playing difficulty from a set of tees when played by a Bogey Golfer (a player with a Course Handicap of approximately 20 for a male and 24 for a female). 


Course Rating

This is the measure of how many strokes a Scratch Golfer (0.0 Handicap Index) should take on any given course and is calculated to the nearest 0.1.

Knowing the Course Rating and Bogey Rating allows the WHS to assess the relationship between the two.


Slope Rating

This is calculated using the Bogey Rating and Course Rating and assesses the relative playing difficulty of a course for Bogey Golfers compared to Scratch Golfers.

The higher the Slope Rating, the greater the difference expected between the scores of those scratch and bogey golfers—but it doesn’t necessarily mean that one course is more difficult than another. The best thing to remember here is the higher the Slope Rating, the more strokes a Bogey Golfer will need to play it.


How to work out your golf handicap: the calculation

how to work out your golf handicap

Your Handicap Index is measured by using your eight best scores from your 20 most recent rounds. 

It takes the Course Rating, Slope Rating and your Adjusted Gross Score* to work out a handicap differential for each round you’ve played.

This is done through the following calculation and is, thankfully, all done automatically for you…

(113 / Slope Rating) x (Adjusted Gross Score* – Course Rating – Playing Conditions Calculation**)

Why 113? Put simply, Slope Rating ranges from 55-155, with the average being 113.

When you play a course with a Slope Rating higher than 113, your Course Handicap will be higher than your Handicap Index. When you play a course with a Slope Rating lower than 113, your Course Handicap will be lower than your Handicap Index.

From here, your Handicap Index is determined by selecting your best 8 from 20 differentials and dividing the total by 8. This, then, should give you an accurate handicap. This won’t be your average score but how likely you are to play a course of average difficulty.

* The Adjusted Gross Score is the total of your 18 holes, but there is an adjustment made for holes that you either didn’t finish or ‘no returned’ on, as well as high-score holes, which are adjusted to the par of the hole PLUS two shots.

For example, if you took 10 on a par 4, that will be adjusted to a six.

** Playing Conditions Calculation takes place automatically to determine if scores recorded at a course were significantly higher or lower than expected. An adjustment between –1 and +3 will be applied to reflect the playing conditions on the day.


Your Course Handicap

how to work out your golf handicap

Your Course Handicap allows you to play any course fairly according to the difficulty and the tees you’re playing off. 

You need your Handicap Index and the Slope Rating you’re about to play. So, check the board at the course where you’re playing (normally near the 1st tee) to get your Course Handicap based on your Handicap Index. 

This equation used is: Course handicap = Handicap Index x (Slope Rating / 113)


Golf handicaps: the takeaways

Fear not—you don’t need to have a good, or indeed any, understanding of these terms.

Everything can be done through an app, such as England Golf, where you can enter your scores, and it’ll work everything out for you.

When you get into the habit of doing this, things will become clearer, and your eight best scores will be highlighted so you can see when a good or bad score will drop off.

All you need to do is ensure that:

  • your score is submitted in an authorised format, such as Strokeplay, Stableford and Par/Bogey
  • you have played a minimum of nine holes
  • you have played with one other person
  • the course has a current Course Rating and Slope Rating done during an active season

Also, you must pre-register your intent to submit a score. You can do this by simply telling your playing partner(s) that you want to put a card in.

Another huge benefit of the WHS is that you can submit cards in general play rather than having to wait for a competition. You can submit any round, anywhere.

Remember: The maximum Handicap Index is 54.0 for all players.

Posted by & filed under Debates.

The article below was written by Steve Carroll of National Club Golfer.

It’ll be in everyone’s top five moans at their golf club – and it’s probably number one for many.

Players and critics got excited about the bunkers at Royal Liverpool during The Open in July, and the R&A then changed the way they were raked, but complaints are by no means restricted to the highest levels of the game.

We mope at our clubs about the lack of raking, the raking itself, whether there’s enough sand in there, and whether there’s too much sand in there.

But bunkers are supposed to be a hazard. Aren’t we meant to try and avoid them at all costs, rather than complaining because we haven’t got a perfect lie when we find one?

Steve Carroll and Tom Irwin weigh in…


Should golf bunkers always be fair?


‘If bunkers don’t provide jeopardy, or tragedy, what’s the point of them?’

In the professional game, bunkers have become an afterthought, says Steve Carroll. You’ll often hear players going ‘get in the bunker’ because they know they’ll get an ultra-consistent lie. They’re so great out of bunkers that they know they can get a lot of spin.

I thought some of the furore at The Open was a bit misplaced. Let’s take Rory McIlroy. His second shot on 18 [in round one] buried in the face of the bunker.

But no one forced him to take the second shot on. There was a risk and reward in that. He thought he hit a good shot, but he had a little bit of bad luck. It ran into the bunker and into the face.

That’s what can happen if you try and hit a wood from wherever it was on a 609-yard par 5. I thought the risk and reward there was fair. If you messed it up and got it in the bunker, there was going to be chance you weren’t going to be able to get it out in one go.

I was slightly disappointed the change was made, and it does make think, ‘what are bunkers for if they’re not going to produce that kind of tragedy, that kind of calamity? If all the time when we go into a bunker, whether it be fairway or green, we expect the ball to roll back into the middle so we can just chop it out with a load of spin’.

If there’s not going to be an element of jeopardy, because we’re fixing them in such a way that the ball will always roll back a lot of the time, then what is the point?


‘Sanitising golf courses in the pursuit of fairness is a fool’s errand’

The sanitisation of golf courses and this idea of trying to make them consistent in all areas – in the pursuit of fairness – is an absolute fool’s errand, isn’t it? says Tom Irwin.

Bunkers should effectively be a half a shot penalty, shouldn’t they? You should have the opportunity to get up and down. There should be an element of jeopardy – you may well get a bad lie, or you may well get up a face, or have some sort of funny stance, because that’s the risk you take.

We’ve talked on the podcast before about whether we should return to not raking bunkers, because unless you get a plug there’s almost no chance for a bad lie in bunkers in premium venues.

Again, that’s just something thar removes them as being a hazard. It’s a very strange to do. We don’t want to see pros suffer, so we’re going to soften the bunkers off. It’s a very odd decision.

Posted by & filed under Golf Equipment.

With various golf putting aids on the market, there’s no reason why you can’t work more on your putting game—the best way to get your handicap down.

For whatever reason, putting doesn’t get practised nearly enough as it should, but that should all be changing with an increasing number of quality golf putting aids entering the market.

In this article, we’ll look at a selection of our favourites.


The best golf putting aids


1. PuttOUT Premium Pressure Putt Trainer

golf putting aids

RRP: £29.99

This is a clever piece of kit as it replicates what is needed to hole a putt. There is a micro-target within the ramp that can be pressed down, and the ball will only stick in the target when you’ve hit a putt with the perfect speed.

Most of your time will likely be spent with the ball rolling back to you—for holed putts, the ball will return to you at the same distance it would have gone past the hole. Hopefully, less of your time will be spent watching your ball ‘lip out’, when a putt rolls over the side of the ramp. This happens when a putt is hit with either a bad line or a poor pace.

There are also several options to vary your practice with three dots on the base set up for target precision.


2. Perfect Practice Putting Mat

golf putting aids

RRP: £129.99

You might already be familiar with this product as it’s endorsed by none other than Dustin Johnson.

This is a high-quality offering with alignment guides, and it will return your ball to you should you hole the putt. It will work on any surface, and the alignment guides will help you to understand what’s happening with your start lines and—given that most putters come with alignment lines—you’ll get plenty of feedback on your stroke.

There are two holes so you can narrow your focus, so when you head out onto the course, the hole will look a lot bigger. The mat comes in different sizes and configurations; simply roll it out, and it’s ready for use straight away. 


3. PuttOUT Mirror Trainer With Gates

golf putting aids

RRP: £49.99

There are various mirror training aids on the market to help with your stroke and eye-line, but this is a great catch-all product. The mirror and alignment guides help get your body and stroke in the right positions, and the 50mm putting gate allows for a face angle tolerance of 0.5˚ either way when placed one foot away, to encourage a correct start line.

Its spiked base allows for stable use anywhere. The magnetic barriers help build a consistent stroke path and are adjustable so you can build your stroke.


4. Breaking Ball Putting Mat

golf putting aids

RRP: £99.99

Most golf putting aids don’t give you much chance to understand your tendencies on breaking putts. However, this one from Me And My Golf duo Piers Ward and Andy Proudman involves three breaking balls and a putting mat.

The balls (green, red and blue) are weighted differently to reflect varying levels of break, and it’s easy to grasp how they work. If the screw is on the right, the ball will break that way. And you can choose from three different lengths of mat, from 7.5ft to 14ft, so wherever your weaknesses on the greens might lie, you can practice it. The balls aren’t clicky, and it will teach you plenty about your start lines and pace, too.


5. PuttOUT Devil Balls

golf putting aids

RRP: £24.99

As the name suggests, this putting aid will play havoc with mishit putts. This exaggerates the face angle of your putter at impact, so you soon appreciate whether you’re coming into a putt too open or too closed. Up to 90% of a putt’s start direction is dictated by the face angle delivered, so it’s crucial that you get this right.

It features a flat-edged impact zone, and there are three difficulty levels for you to get the ball to roll properly. This is particularly good for putts from six feet and in. Putts with the Devil Ball are twice as hard as a normal ball, so if there’s a kink in your stroke, it will find it out. Brilliant, immediate feedback on your putting.


6. Anywhere Golf Hole

RRP: £30.00

Things don’t have to be overly complicated to practice your putting. This silicone putting aid has a slight incline, meaning you’ll need to hit a putt with perfect speed to see the ball finish up in the hole.

So, you can just throw it down and hit putts to different parts of the green (or your carpet). 


7. Ghost Hole

RRP: £15.00

This is a firm favourite with many putting coaches and is a simple and great way to understand your greens at your home club. It’s a lightweight circular disc, the same size as a golf hole, with eight entry zones, like a clock face, giving you a great view of where the ball is going and what gives you your best chance of holing a putt.

Posted by & filed under Golf Tips.

In this article, we’ll look at affordable ways to practice golf at home and become a better player without even having to go out. Yes—it can be done!

There are many ways you can practice and improve your golf at home. And, while the more space, the better, it’s not necessarily essential to have a garden or any outdoor space to make inroads on some progress away from the course.


How to practice golf at home


1. Putting

Putting is one of the most obvious areas of your game to make progress in from home, and given that around 45% of your shots will come on the greens, it’ll benefit you hugely when you get back out there.

You don’t have to break the bank to buy a putting mat, either. The carpet or flooring you already have in your house can work just fine, and this is a great way to work on your alignment, stroke and distance control, too.

There are a wide range of training aids to help you with the different aspects of putting—mirrors, holes, gates, pressure putts, path trainers, breaking putts and mats that return the ball to you. There’s even a ball that has to be hit perfectly to roll straight. So, however you struggle on the greens, there’s no excuse not to put some work in!


2. Chipping

how to practice golf at home

Similarly, there are all sorts of training aids to help you with your short game. Whether you like something technical that will help you get your arms and body in the right position, or something more visual so you have a target, there’s plenty of help out there.

Being able to chip better is a quick way to get your scores down, and you need very little space to practice this at home—just some air-flow or indoor balls to get a feel for a good chip. This is also a great way to use your imagination around the garden for different types of shots and trajectories, and the more you practice, the more likely you are to start getting up and down a few more times. 


3. Mirror work

You often hear about golfers using mirrors for practising, but how many of us have actually made the most of what we’ve got at home to work on our swings?

A great way to add a new move to a swing is by doing it in slow motion. Robert Rock is one of the best swingers in the game, and he’s a big fan of slow-motion work.


4. Practice net

how to practice golf at home

We all love the feeling of hitting balls, and if you have the space, a good practice net is a brilliant purchase.

During the various lockdowns, these were among the most popular purchases for golfers, as they’re a great way of maintaining your swing away from the course. Just make sure you have enough room to hit it and that the net is decent quality—the last thing you want is to smash through it and break a window!

If you’re looking to hit a lot of drivers, consider how much headroom you have, too, as well as a strong net.

Hitting balls on a regular basis should really bolster your confidence. In fact, simply having a club in your hands every day will make it start to feel like second nature, and you can work on hitting different shots with different clubs.


5. Video analysis

how to practice golf at home

An adjustable tripod for your phone is an excellent purchase if you’re looking at how to practice golf at home, as you can see exactly what you’re doing each time.

Of course, there’s nothing better than having an in-person lesson with a PGA pro, but this way, you can share your progress outside of lessons by sending videos. Your instructor can then send feedback quickly and easily.


6. Strength and flexibility

The importance of being strong and flexible when it comes to hitting it better and further has never been more evident.

By adding yards, you’ll lower your scores. Fact. YouTube is full of tips to help your balance, bad back, shoulders and neck, core and any other body part used in the golf swing.

Try and spend just 15 minutes a day working on some part of your golfing fitness, and you’ll notice the difference very quickly—whether it’s longer drives, less pain or more stamina at the end of a round. Where you may lack in inspiration when it comes to getting going, you should make up for it in how you’re generally feeling and swinging.


7. The mind game

We can probably all think better on the course, and if there’s one thing that Tiger Woods always did brilliantly throughout his career, it was his breathing and visualisation.

Just look at a video of his chip-in at the 16th at The Masters in 2005, and look how much attention he’s paying to the shot before hitting it.

Golf is a game played between the ears, and by being able to deal with the inner voices and awkward situations we’re guaranteed to face on the course, we’ll all be better off. Read up, seek the relevant information, and start to practice at home, too.


8. Read, watch, listen

Golf has arguably never been in a better place in terms of what’s ‘out there’ in regards to online instructions, playing tips, reading material and podcasts.

Some of the greatest golf teachers and instructors on the planet are giving their tips away for free, and there’s always an answer to the questions we might have.

If you’ve never read a Dr Bob Rotella on the mental game of golf, you truly are missing out. Feed your mind and educate yourself on all areas of the game, and it will add to your overall enjoyment and lust to get better at playing it. 

Posted by & filed under Golf Tips.

The article below was written by Steve Carroll of National Club Golfer.

Chucking a tantrum after a poor shot can cause some proper damage on the course. I’ve seen players take chunks out of greens, swish around like an unruly child in a bunker, and detonate a tee marker into a hundred different pieces.

Tee markers seem a semi-regular outlet for frustration on a course and there’s a curious clarification in the Rules of Golf that addresses when and how they are moved and what that’s going to do to your score card.

Did you know there is not an automatic penalty in the rules for hitting a tee marker in anger and causing it to move?

Check out Rule 6.2b (4)/1 – Tee-Marker Moved Without Improvement. It reveals that if a player causes a tee-marker to move, either by striking it in anger, tripping over it, or – and this is my personal favourite – “lifting it for no apparent reason”, there is no penalty if it does not improve the conditions affecting the stroke.

But there’s a big caveat on hitting golf tee markers in anger

That’s even “if the player does not replace it before playing from the teeing area”.

Don’t just start moving them, though, and put them back if you do so. You’ll get the general penalty if you don’t.

Now, before you all start smashing up markers in a fit of rage and thinking you can get away with it, there is a very large caveat in this clarification.

If you move the golf tee markers because you reckon they should be in a different place, or “deliberately” destroy them, your committee has the power to disqualify you for “serious conduct contrary to the spirit of the game” using Rule 1.2a.

You could also be disciplined under your club’s own Code of Conduct if it includes sanctions for damaging the course and equipment.

Posted by & filed under Playing Tips.

The article below was written by Hannah Holden of National Club Golfer.

With space for just fourteen clubs in the bag, getting the split between different clubs is crucial to your success out on the golf course. There are loads of factors affecting how many wedges you should put in play, so let’s take a look…


What are the different types of wedges?

Firstly, what are the options when it comes to wedges? Typically golfers will have at least a pitching wedge included in their iron sets. This typically has between 45 and 50 degrees of loft. It is worth knowing what loft your pitching wedge is to help with gapping the rest of your bag.

After this, players will carry a gap wedge that generally has 50 to 54 degrees of loft; these are included in some iron sets and are known as utility wedges. Sand wedges come next and can be from 54-58°. Finally, lob wedges are the highest lofted wedges, with loft varying from 58 to 64 degrees!

You can have wedges that match your iron sets, or you can have what I would refer to as a specialist wedge. This would be something like a Vokey or a Ping Glide 4.0.

I would always recommend someone carries at least one specialist wedge. They are designed for more finesse shots around the green, and I also find the thinner structure, and sole makes it much easier to get out of bunkers with. They generally have a tighter grind on the sole, so it is easier to open up the face and hit high chip shots without worrying about thinning it off the front edge of the club.


What wedge shots do you want to play?

Firstly, you need to look at what you want to use your wedges for and how versatile each club may be. Do you want something that is mainly for chip shots? Do you want something really high lofted for bunker and flop shots? Or do you prefer to run the ball low? Will you be using your wedges for full shots, and what do you want the distance gapping to look like?

Personally, my most lofted club is my starting point for sorting out my wedge set-up. I have used a 58° for a long time, so I feel very comfortable with this around the green and know I can hit all my short game shots with this.

If you don’t know what wedge you like to chip with, I would recommend trying a few out and seeing which you are most consistent with. Lob wedges or someone’s most lofted club generally vary between 56 and 60 degrees of loft. Lots of tour pros who play on faster greens opt for a 60-degree wedge; however, Tiger Woods uses just 56 degrees and still manages to hit all the shots.


How does the rest of your bag setup look?

From here, I will then build my wedge set up around this most lofted club and my pitching wedge carry distance.

My most lofted wedge carries 80 yards, and my pitching wedge carries 125 yards. That leaves me with a 45-yard gap to fill. Personally, I only really need two clubs to fill this gap. I also know I prefer hitting three-quarter shots with a smaller wedge than I do with a pitching wedge, so I will probably get a gap wedge that is fairly near in loft to my pitching wedge.

If you are a slower swing player, you may have a smaller gap between your pitching wedge and lob wedge in which case only one other wedge would be required.

If you are a high club head speed player, you may find your pitching wedge goes a lot further, and you need fewer clubs at the top of the bag. This would make space for you to have four specialist wedges as well as a pitching wedge.

It is also important to remember a 46-degree pitching wedge will fly further than a specialist 46° wedge due to the club head being smaller, and it is designed for precision rather than ball speed. So it is always best to try to hit each wedge loft on a launch monitor before purchasing to make sure the carry distances are perfect.


What wedge grind should you use?

When you are picking lofts, it is also worth looking at sole grinds and what might suit your game or golf course. The grind actually refers to the shaping of the sole of the club. Different amounts of material can be removed from the sole, heel and toe of the club to change how the leading edge sits and how it reacts through impact.

A fuller grind is best for wedges you hit full swings with, whereas you might want a more versatile grind on a wedge you chip with and want to use to open or close the face.

RELATED: Which wedge grind is right for you?


How many wedges do pros carry?

As with all equipment on tour, wedge setups vary from player to player. In general, all pros will carry a pitching wedge and three specialist wedges. Some players drop a club at the top of the bag to allow them to carry four specialist wedges. Rory McIlroy uses a 46°, 54° and 60° whereas Jordan Spieth uses a 46°, 52°, 56° and 60°.