A handicap is a player’s measured numerical performance ability.

Golf Handicap

Handicapping allows players to compete equally, regardless of skill level, age, or sex based on a series of calculations set by national/local golf bodies which determine the slope rating for each golf course.

The resultant handicap is measured against the course standard and gives a proficiency rating against that standard.  If the course standard is 71 and your score was 91 then a simplistic rating of a 20 handicap would be the result. One could then assume that your average scoring will always reflect this range.

This rating would allow you 1 stroke on every hole plus an additional stroke on each of the 2 hardest holes.

If the first hole is a par 5 and your actual score was 7 and its rating was the 9th hardest hole on the golf course then you would net a score of 6 for that hole.

On the flip side, if you registered a natural par for the hole then your net score would be a 4, or a net birdie. If you were playing with a partner who registered a 10 handicap (shot 81 on average) then that differential (91-81 = 10) is the number of strokes you have in excess of your partner to play the course at the same level.  In theory it enables a player the opportunity to realistically par the course without actually parring any holes and to play any competitor evenly.

It’s like trying to climb Mount Everest with or without oxygen.

Can you climb it organically or do you need support? Oxygen is the climber’s handicap.

If that support mechanism was not available a great many climbers might not attempt the summit.
The handicap system in golf is just as necessary a tool allowing players time to develop and yet still enjoy the body of the game.
One of the weaknesses of the system is that it acts as a deterrent as much as an incentive. For many it becomes a stigma and stereotype of inability rather than ability. They are seen as mediocre or poor golfers with higher handicaps in comparison to good golfers with lower handicaps. While it allows you to play equally you are not generally perceived in such regard. 
This isn’t the consequence of the handicap system as much as the individual player. Handicaps are not meant to be static but rather active measurements of growth. While newcomers to the game will start with higher handicaps (+25 or greater) the goal is to systematically lower that number with each passing year of active participation. Not doing so is a stagnant disengaged attitude to growth that only results in the participant leaving the game.
If you Don’t Grow you Die!

About 80% of golfers are 16+ handicaps

That means that 80% of all golfers have never broken 80 or had an opportunity to match par in their golfing life.

Imagine if 80 percent of your customers were unhappy with the service they received every time they entered your business
This is unacceptable.
While they suggest there is a potential 21.2M golf population it would be inconceivable to envision 17M dissatisfied golfers entering and remaining with the game.  I’m guessing that if your business wouldn’t survive the 80% rating then those remaining in the game won’t either. Think how great business would be if we could keep the other 50%.
In Australia the average handicap for men is 19.5 and for women 31.0. Men show a rate of 69% with handicaps 16+ (excluding the 36-40 and 41-45 handicaps) while women an astonishing 94%. 
This is the equivalent of people never learning how to manage a golf swing. An admission they have no working knowledge of the golf swing. 
Given the opportunities for learning in the golf industry today anyone who plays golf should not be in the 80 percentile category. 
It’s definitely not the fault of your golf ball or your equipment. The speed of the greens, weather, being late for your tee time, a bad day at work, or any other external excuse. 
Nor is it the lack of available learning options. From:
  • cell phone apps
  • the Golf Channel with 24/7 information and instruction
  • professional lesson outlets
  • golf instructors
  • magazines, books
  • videos, on-line video instruction
  • manufacturers equipment options
  • and so much more.
It’s grabbing hold of the nearest branch.

It is impossible to navigate the obstacles of a golf course
achieve a respectable result

Without a basic understanding of golf swing mechanics.

According to a recent Grint App and Website survey of respondents 10% break 80, 49% break 90, 86% break 100 and 14% score +100. From a numerical perspective, if par is the goal, then how much FUN is it scoring +100 or breaking 100? The Canadian Consumer Study lists occasional (3-8 rounds) and infrequent (0-2 rounds) golfers total 4.2M.
A KPMG “Golf Participation Report for Europe 2016”. Showed those with handicaps of 32 or greater and those playing less than 5 years demonstrated declines in participation.
Two dominant reasons were:
  • less time available to play
  • practice coupled with a greater difficulty in playing.
 According to the report. Declines in golf participation were not associated with the economic downturn. But the “actual technical difficulty of the game.”

Not only is the golf industry dealing with low skill levels. But also low total rounds played from the largest percentage of disengaged golfers.

Golfers that can influence the course of golf on a national and international scale.
The National Golf Foundation report of 2012. Showed avid golfers (+25 rounds) represented 26% of golfers, moderate (8-24 rounds) at 30%, and occasional (1-7 rounds) at 44%.
Of these groups. Avid players represented 76% of total rounds played, Moderate 18% and Occasional 6% with each group spending 71%, 23%, and 1.6% respectively.
While it appears the downturn within the golf industry is stabilizing the greater hurdle is ensuring those already integrated within the game and those entering the game receive the attention and skill sets needed to develop a long term participant to the game of golf.
The avid golfer is more receptive to learning. He generally wants to learn new advantages to play better golf. The moderate, occasional or infrequent player needs incentives. A variety of entertaining options of encouragement to perform better and more importantly, to play more often.

While it would be convenient to say the avid player is a low handicap player evidence shows otherwise.

Many seniors play 80+ rounds every year and still register high handicaps.

There are also many in the 10-14 handicap range who play 30-60 rounds every year but struggle to crack the next barrier.  What is consistent with the low handicap player is their attitude and enthusiasm to the game.
They see a greater challenge in the game. Experience a different level of fun and excitement. Practice and play more often. Engage in all aspects of the game.
The challenge with this group that differs from the other groups is, they too, still don’t understand all the basic requirements of the golf swing. They look for answers internally rather than externally.
Self- analysis, while a noble and necessary undertaking is only the first step in an otherwise more lengthy process of professional mediation
I know I have a pain under my right shoulder blade but where does the pain originate. Identifying the problem is easy. 
It is the remedy that creates the problem. 
Fixing the shoulder could be from the lower back and spine being out of alignment. Or the front pectoral muscles being too tight. The pain is never at the point of the pain so no matter how much you massage that pain area it will always return.  If your tendency is to hit fat shots then is your remedy to grip lower on the club or do you go to the source of the error?
If you begin hitting fat shots again, even with a lower grip position, what solutions will you implement then?  Do you keep the lower grip position and then move the ball back or forward in your stance?  If that starts to fail where do you go from there?  From one simple problem there are now three larger problems.
This is the destructive impact self-indulgence will have on your game.  For the higher handicap players it is even more devastating because they have little or no working functional knowledge of any proper positioning. 
It’s kind of like sitting inside Challenger 1 and flying to the moon. I know it’s a spaceship with lots of buttons but I have no idea how to fly this thing.

The objective isn’t to focus on the handicap or you will miss all of the heavenly beauty that lay in front of you.

It is only a measurement of your current performance ability. But says nothing about your ability level for fun. Level of excitement, satisfaction, enjoyment or ease of playing the game.  A lower handicap is simply a by-product of improvement in golf swing dynamics. Seen expressively through the fun, excitement, satisfaction, enjoyment and ease that you do play the game.
That is the ultimate goal – to achieve the FUN level.
It is the one characteristic that seems to be overlooked far too often in the game. There is so much intense focus on being a low handicap. Hitting the longest drive. Playing to par. The paralysis of the game has destroyed the FUN factor and made us into technocrats of the game.
Even if you have no handicap or cared nothing about ever having one the focus is still the same – to enjoy the game.  But to enjoy the game more means, not lowering your handicap, but elevating your skill sets.
Regardless of how many rounds of golf you play in a season there is a need to understand a basic application of fundamentals in any sport.  These are what allow us to go onto a playing field and have some anticipation for success.  The low number of rounds is not a reason to forgo some formalized instruction. But the very reason you should.
As the skills improved, those numbers played may increase to a point where your desire and thirst for playing supersedes you’re skill and ability.

With all the information available on the golf swing it is confounding why so many struggle with playing the game.

Golf is not as hard to learn as everyone wants you to believe.  People make it hard. The mind makes it hard. 
We all had to learn to crawl before we learned to walk.  We all learned the alphabet before we learned to read. It seemed like Mt. Everest at the time but now we walk without any memory of crawling. We read without thinking of the struggles learning the alphabet. 

Golf is no different.

We all have to learn how to be stationary before we learn how to engage movement. These things are few and not difficult. But each requires practice for learning to materialize.
Christopher Columbus challenged convention when he sailed beyond the boundaries of accepted reality. He showed the world that accepting conventional wisdom or ideas is denying the capacity to learn and grow
Sail what you know or sail new worlds. We all have to learn to do anything and not allowing ourselves to learn is denying the discovery of new horizons in golf. Sailing past the horizon wasn’t as difficult as perceived.  The challenge was learning the unknowns and opening the world to your new talents.