The Alamo City Golf Trail is now offering the GHIN handicap system to its members and guests. It will cost $25 per person to get GHIN. Click here to sign up.

Everything you need to know about a golf handicap
What’s your handicap? Perhaps the most frequently heard three-word question on a golf course.  It’s an inquiry that often provokes boastful, embellished or, ahem, overstated responses.  So next time you get paired up with someone new and they want to know your handicap, we’ve got you covered.
Before we begin, it’s important to know the difference between a course handicap and a handicap index.  A handicap index is a number that indicates a player’s skill and is taken to one decimal place (ex., 10.4).  You might refer to your index as your ‘raw’ handicap, or the number that is really important to know.  You never actually use this index while playing; rather, you must first convert it to the slope of the specific set of tees you are playing to get a Course Handicap.  This will create a whole number and is what makes your Handicap Index portable from course to course.  You might need fewer strokes on an easy course and more strokes on a harder course.
The first step to finding out your handicap starts with getting some rounds in and collecting your data from those performances.  Technically, five 18-hole rounds will be sufficient to calculate a handicap index, but until a golfer reaches 20 scores will that index be an accurate reflection of someone’s true ability. 
 Next, we’ll tackle understanding the handicap formula.  Here’s what we need first: Your scores – a minimum of five and up to 20 and the USGA Course and Slope Ratings of each course you’ve played.  And since the Alamo City Golf Trail recently had all their course and slope ratings updated, you can be sure they’re accurate.  Once you have this information, let’s break out the calculators.  Take each score and subtract them from the course rating of that course.  Then multiply that by 113 and divide by the slope.  Here’s an example from a male golfer at Brackenridge Park with a score of 86 from the white tees ((86-67.9) x 113/122).  The sum that results – in this example, 16.8 – is your handicap differential for that round of golf.  Depending on how many scores you have between five and 20 dictates how many differentials you’ll use to calculate your handicap index.  For a golfer just getting their index established, only one differential is used when they only have five scores recorded.  For a regular golfer, the last 20 scores are taken, and the best ten differentials used.  Next, take the sum of those ten best differentials and multiply them by .96 and, there you go, your handicap index! 
So now that you have your handicap index, you’ll need to compare that against the handicap conversion chart for the course you are playing.  For instance, if you had a 16.4 handicap index at a course with a slope rating of 111, your course handicap would be 16.  Conversely, if you played at a course with a slope of 138 your course handicap would be 20.
Unless you’re a savant or have mad excel spreadsheet prowess, your friends at the Alamo City Golf Trail have a solution – sign up for a USGA Handicap Index through GHIN!
Like mentioned above, the ACGT has recently had their slope and course ratings updated from the Texas Golf Association.  Because of this, that information has not been updated on the scorecards yet.  You can find that information on our website under each specific course at the bottom of the page under Slope/Rating.  This information has automatically been updated in GHIN, so once you’ve signed up for service, you just need to enter your score and the tee box and ACGT course you played.  You can also enter scores from any other course around the world, so long as it has a course and slope rating.
Now that your handicap index is established, you’re free to start competing!  Most amateur events require a handicap index to register or to help establish which flight (skill level) you belong in.  You can easily now be competitive against any skill level by matching up your course handicap.  It works like this: Player ‘A’ has a course handicap of 18 from the White tees, while Player ‘B’ has a 1 handicap from the Blue tees.  By subtracting Player ‘B’s’ handicap from Player ‘A’s’ handicap you get the sum of 17.  Player ‘A’ gets 17 strokes subtracted from his gross (actual) score to determine his net score.  You simply now compare those two scores to determine the winner of said match.  Let the wagers begin!
If you need any assistance on how to get your handicap set up, or any further explanations on how the handicap system works, please feel to contact us at