If you’re setting out on your golfing journey and are new to the game, you will no doubt be learning golfing terminology, one such word being ‘handicap.’ You might have heard about a player with a four handicap and wonder how good this is. So how good is a four handicap in golf?
A 4 handicap in golf would be considered an excellent handicap. Playing golf off a sub-5 handicap is an exceptional skill level as it means that you would be shooting four shots over par on average, and while this isn’t quite pro-level, it certainly puts you in the top 3% of all golfers.
To achieve a four handicap in golf means you have a desire to play the game at a high skill level and invest a great deal of time and discipline in your training and significant investments in equipment and coaching.
Having a 4 handicap would undoubtedly make you a contender in any amateur competitions you would wish to enter.
Let’s look further at exactly how good a 4 handicap is.
How Is A 4 Handicap Calculated?
Golf handicaps are calculated by taking the last 20 scores and factoring in the course difficulty rating to achieve the handicap index.
As a four handicap player, you would have to have averaged four shots over par, with scores around the par or sub-par level and some around the 76-78 range.
Achieving a handicap of 4 means that on a par 72 course, you would shoot 76 on average, or on a par 71 course, your score would be 75. That is excellent golf in anyone’s book.
What Makes A 4 Handicap Player So Good?
Aside from the consistency in ball striking and having a great short game, one of the critical aspects is the high percentage of greens hit regulation. This stat alone differentiates the single-figure handicap players from the higher handicap players.
As a golfer with a 4 handicap, you would hit around ten greens in regulation or 56% of the greens in play. That will put you in a position to score well on most of the par and par-five holes, regular birdies, and the occasional eagle!
Compare that to the PGA Tour average of 65% greens hit in regulation, which gives you an idea of how good the pros are and how good a four handicap golfer is. As a non-professional player hitting less than 10% fewer greens (1.8-2) in a round than a pro is something to be proud of.
While there will be a few holes in a round that may yield bogeys, the ability and accuracy of a 4 handicap player will result in the majority of those scores being counteracted by birdies or better.
The players’ short game, like chipping and bunker play, will get them close to the hole and seldom leave long putts to save par, and their putts per round would be around the 32 mark.
Consider also that the average male golfer in the USA has a handicap of 14. As a four handicap golfer, you would be ten shots better per round on average than a 14 handicap. Check out this post for more info on this specific topic, What’s The Average Golf Handicap In The US?
Another critical element is the mental side of golf. For many players, the ability to focus and not deviate from pre-shot routines and understanding how to deal with poor scores and move on to the next hole separates them from high handicap players.
How 4 Handicap Players Manage The Course To Score Well
Low handicap golfers intend to score and use course management and ball shaping skills to place the ball in the best positions to score. This is similar to the professional mindset and often the key for players at sub-5 handicap level to achieve scratch handicap or better.
This alone is a great skill and requires time, patience, and dedication working with a coach on and off the course to develop and maintain this consistency during play.
Four handicap players will have customized coaching and training plans and include fitness, strength, and flexibility to ensure optimum physical conditioning.
Golfers at this level will also have detailed notes or use top-quality GPS systems to their benefit. They’ll find the best layups and approach shots and positioning of tee shots to give them the best opportunities to score on any particular course they play.
They will also have specific drills and range training systems to optimize their training time spent hitting balls and use appropriately fitted clubs and balls that match their swing and type of game for best results.
What Percentage Of Golfers Play At 4 Handicap?
According to the handicap index statistics from the USGA, less than 2.5% of male golfers play at four handicap, and less than 10% of all male golfers in the USA play at a handicap of 4.9 or lower.
This means that as a four handicap male golfer, you are playing in the top 10% of all golfers in the USA, and that means you are pretty good indeed!
By comparison, a female four handicap golfer would be listed in the top 2% of all female golfers in the USA, and less than 0.31% of female players are at this level or better.
In the USA, the biggest handicap group is between 12 and 14.9, with slightly over 16% of golfers playing at this level. As a 4 handicap golfer, you are well below that and into the top echelons of golfers in America.
Four Handicap vs. Pro Golfer
A four handicap golfer is considered a highly competent golfer and would have the occasional par or sub-par round. Still, there could be as many as ten shot swings on the handicap ratings between them compared to the pros.
Professional golfers don’t keep a handicap, but some do when they play out of tournaments in social sponsors events, for example. Many have a handicap between +4 and +8, and some as high as +10.
They add strokes to their gross score to get their net score to par at the end of a round, not subtracting as amateurs do. For example, a +4 handicapper would need to score 68 on a par 72 course to make level par.
Considering how good a four handicap player is, having a 10-12 shot swing shows how good professional golfers are.
Playing off a 4 handicap in golf is an outstanding achievement and should command respect among your fellow players regardless of their handicap. Anyone that has played the game will know how tough it is to reach a sub-5 handicap.
At that level, you are well on your way to scratch golf if you can maintain your focus and dedication. Beyond this level, a greater dimension of the sport awaits you!
Selection to your country’s national amateur team or qualification to play in The Open or US Open is a possibility! And success at that level could even lead to a career in the professional game.