A golf handicap is a numerical measure of a golfer’s potential ability.
In stroke play, it is used to calculate a net score from the number of strokes actually played during a competition, thus allowing players of different proficiency to play against each other on somewhat equal terms. In match play, the handicap difference between players is used to determine the number of strokes the high handicap player should receive from the low handicapper during the playing of their round. The higher the handicap of a player, the poorer the player is relative to those with lower handicaps. Official handicaps are administered by golf clubs with regional and national golf associations providing additional peer reviewing for low and very low handicaps respectively. Exact rules relating to handicaps can vary from country to country.
Handicap systems are not used in professional golf. Amateur golfers who are members of golf clubs are generally eligible for official handicaps on payment of the prevailing regional and national association annual fees. Other systems, often free of charge, are available to golfers who are ineligible for official handicaps.