Managing Your Handicap

Posted: 08/04/2024 in Blog

Understanding & Managing Handicap Expectations Centurion Club Blog Centurion Club

As the seasons change, there’s nothing quite like walking down the fairways at Centurion Club. The bluebells will be flowering before you know it and plans, hopes and dreams for the golf season ahead will be front of mind.

It’s not all rosy on the golf course though – golf does have a dark side – and it’s not just in the woods or deep grass! Golf gets into your head and can leave you feeling elated and despondent in equal measure. Managing the pressure and expectation is often as challenging as the game itself, particularly when you set yourself goals beyond your golfing capabilities. Setting an unrealistic handicap target is something I see all too often and it can have a huge impact on your enjoyment of what should be, an enjoyable sport. 

Master your skills

There has been lots of statistical collection over the years beginning with Mark Brodie’s book Every Shot Counts and Arccos, which is used by amateurs to collect and correlate data to help golfers work on certain skill sets to improve their overall handicap. 

Golf is broken down into a number of key skill sets: putting, chipping, bunker shots, pitching, shots to the green and tee shots. Naturally, you will be weaker in some skill sets than others. You’ll find it very tempting to practice what you’re good at because of the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction gained from being good at it. However, your weakest skill set will ultimately limit your full potential, so it’s essential that you work on your weakest rather than your favoured skill set.

Handicap gains – don’t let distance hold you back

The distance you hit the ball off the tee is the most significant factor in helping you attain your golf handicap. 

There is a lot of talk about Tour players constantly hitting longer tee shots year on year, which has resulted in the regulatory bodies calling for a restriction on ball flight distances. Despite what is happening in the professional game, there is evidence that amateur golfers’ tee shot distances have not changed much in the past 20 years. With this is mind, it is important to manage your own expectations about the distance you can achieve with your tee shots. It’s unrealistic to expect your tee shot distances alone to increase enough to improve your handicap.

If you find your distances averaging around the distances below, you can take this as a guide to the potential handicap you can achieve without trying to hit the ball further, leaving you to focus on improving the accuracy of your chipping, putting and overall course management.

Good to know… Handicap Guide

Men’s average distance off the tee is 215yds and women’s 147yds. The distances below act as a guide to your handicap potential.

Men’s Tee shot Distance 
Estimated Handicap
240 yds + 5 > below
225 yds +
10 - 5
215 yds + 15 - 10
200 yds + 20 - 15
180 yds + 25 - 20

Womens's Tee shot Distance 
Estimated Handicap
210 yds + 5 > below
195 yds +
10 - 5
180 yds + 15 - 10
170 yds + 20 - 15
155 yds + 25 - 20
140 yds + 36 - 25

This distance and handicap zone should provide a useful guide for achieving your handicap goals as well as enabling you to assess where to focus your golf practice. For example, if you’re happy with your distance off the tee but have not reached your target handicap zone, perhaps look at the consistency of your ball flight, dispersion and your short game.

Mark is Head Coach at Centurion Club providing lessons exclusively for members. For membership enquiries CLICK HERE and to contact Mark, visit his website HERE.