Can You Have A Negative Handicap In Golf? [Explained]

One of the great things about golf is golfers of all ages and all abilities can play it.

Golf handicaps mean that a 28-handicapped player can still play golf against a scratch golfer at the local golf club.

But is there such a thing as a golfer that’s better than scratch handicap?

In this article, we’ll have a look at can you have a negative handicap in golf.

Can You Have A Negative Handicap In Golf?

Can You Have A Negative Handicap In Golf?

Can You Have A Negative Handicap In Golf?

Yes, you can have a golf handicap that is below zero in golf.

A negative handicap in golf is for players that are even better than a scratch golfer, so they have a handicap index that is less than zero.

A negative handicap in golf is more commonly known as a “plus” handicap. A positive handicap on the other hand is sometimes known as a minus handicap.

This is because once a player with a handicap index less than zero finishes their round of golf, their handicap is added on top of their score.

This means that for this golfer to shoot a score that is level to their handicap, they’ll have to shoot under the par for the course.

This is unlike a handicap above zero, which will be taken away from the final score instead.

For example, if a golfer has a handicap of +2, if they shoot a round of 68, their net score will be 70.

If the par for the course is 70, the golfer will need to take 68 shots if they want to shoot level handicap.

Therefore for a golfer to have a negative course handicap or a plus handicap index, they’ll need to be consistently shooting lower than par at golf courses.

Making scores of under par will mean making a few birdies a round and can require a lot of consistent, well-played golf shots.

At this level of golf, it requires to be playing often, as well as practicing the important aspects of the game, such as putting and short game.

How To Get A Negative Handicap In Golf?

If you’re looking at getting a negative golf handicap, it requires a lot of consistently good golf to be played.

For your handicap index to be lower than zero, many rounds played will need to be below par, or at least below the course handicap and slope rating.

Since the introduction of the new handicap system in 2020, it’s now much easier for a golfer to achieve less than a zero handicap.

However, it’s still a very difficult level to get to, especially with how challenging golf is to play. It takes plenty of birdies and limiting bogeys or double bogey to shoot a score better than par more times than not.

Final Thoughts

The handicap system in golf is a great equalizer. It gives golfers of all levels the chance to play a golf course with varying levels of ability and gives those with less skill to compete with others who are very good.

Negative handicaps are very much a part of this handicap system and are a great achievement for any golfer that can reach that level.

Negative Handicap FAQs

What is a negative golf handicap?

A golf handicap index that is below zero is known as a negative or a plus handicap.

This handicap is for very good golfers, who have to add their handicap back onto their gross score rather than taking it away.

Can you have a golf handicap less than 0?

A golfer can have a handicap of less than 0.

This is known as a plus handicap and means that the player will add the handicap on top of their score after the round.

Therefore a handicap index of less than 0 is only possible for very good golfers.

What is a +1 golf handicap?

A +1 handicap in golf is when you have to add the handicap to your final score rather than if it was a 1 handicap it would be taken away.

What’s the difference between a plus and minus handicap?

A plus handicap is different to a minus handicap because it gets added to the final score after a round of golf instead of being taken away.

Depending on the course rating, a golfer with a plus handicap is supposed to shoot under par when they play.

How many people have a 0 handicap?

Having a handicap of zero or better puts a golfer in the top 1% of players in the world. Achieving this sort of golf handicap is very difficult and only a few golfers will ever achieve it.

Ed Welton

Founder, Editor

Ed is the founder and editor at EEE Golf. He’s been playing golf for over 20 years, competing in many top amateur events. He’s played courses all over the world and played with some of the best players in the game. His aim is to help educate people about the game of golf and give insights into the sport he loves most.

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