1. A Handicap Index represents your average score
No. The USGA handicap system measures your potential ability, what you are “capable” of scoring, by considering only the best 10 of the most recent 20 scores. So it actually is predicting what you are capable of achieving in a good round.
2. You never really play to your handicap
Actually, combining all the calculations used in the system means you should play to your handicap once in every four to five rounds. This provides equity when playing or competing with golfers of differing abilities and in varying formats.
3. I can’t establish a Handicap because I don’t play the same course all the time
The Handicap System accommodates playing and posting from different courses. By being built on the USGA Course and Slope Rating System, you can see in advance what you are capable of scoring at any course from any set of tees. (Determine your Course Handicap for the tees played, then add that to the Course Rating for those tees.)
4. One bad hole ensures a bad round
The Handicap System uses Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) to adjust hole scores for handicap purposes. ESC limits the number of strokes a player can take on a hole ensuring that a Handicap Index is more representative of one’s potential ability. For example, if your Course Handicap is between 10 and 19, the maximum score you can take on a hole is a 7. This also helps speed up pace of play.
5. I play both 18-hole and 9-hole rounds so it’s hard to establish a Handicap Index
Golfers can post both 9- and 18-hole rounds. When a 9-hole round is posted, it is automatically combined with the next 9-hole round. Simply post your 9-hole score along with the 9-hole Course and Slope Rating and the system does the rest.
For much more on determining and using handicaps, go to usga.org.