What's your handicap?
That's something a lot of golfers get asked on the first tee. No matter where they're playing golf or who they're playing with, there's typically a game of some kind. Knowing your handicap -- more accurately, your handicap index -- and the indices of the players in your group allow for an equitable match based on each player's ability.
However, not every golfer has a handicap index.
How many golfers have a USGA handicap index?
According to the USGA and the World Handicap Service, as of the end of 2020, 2,417,905 golfers in the United States have a handicap index. Compared to estimates of how many golfers there are in the United States which put the number of traditional golfers in the United States at approximately 24-25 million, that means right around 10 percent of golfers carry a USGA-recognized handicap index.
Worldwide, there are approximately 15 million golfers who have an approved handicap index, covered now under the World Handicap System as it is implemented globally.
In the United States, there are more male golfers who carry a handicap index than women. Of the 2.4 million golfers who have a handicap index, approximately 1.9 million are men and approximately 500,000 are women. That means 79 percent of American golfers who have a USGA handicap index are men. That's a slightly higher percentage compared to the estimated percentage of golfers who are men, which is closer to 76 percent. Still, this is representative of the gender makeup of the American golf population.