If you watch pro golf on TV, whether LIV or PGA, you may wonder what the average handicap for a professional golfer is. Truth be told, most pro golfers don’t have handicaps, but some keep track of it for interest.
The average handicap for professional golfers would be between +5 and +10! While scratch golf is considered the benchmark and top amateur players would have a handicap of between +2 and +5, when it comes to handicaps, pro golfers are in a league of their own!
It can be difficult to understand how good professional golfers are, so consider that if they were playing on your standard course, they would shoot between 67 and 62 on an average round, and that’s pretty good golf by anyone’s standards!
What Handicap Would You Need To Become A Professional Golfer?
As a rule, before any golfer can turn professional, they would need to hold a handicap between +4 and +6 which would mean a score of three over par on a championship course, and this would be considered the minimum requirement to turn pro.
What Does It Mean To Be A Plus Handicap?
Less than 1% of all golfers worldwide will achieve a scratch or plus handicap level in their playing career. This is the game’s elite realm, and if you have ever wondered what it means to be a ‘plus’ handicap golfer, here’s the answer.
If you have a handicap of +1, you must shoot one under par consistently to maintain that level of 71 on a standard par 72 course. As a +3 handicap player, that would mean averaging 69 or three shots under par for a par 72 course and four under par for a par 71 course!
By comparison, a scratch player would need to shoot even par to maintain their handicap, and a single-figure player with a handicap of 4 would average 76 or four shots over par to shoot their handicap on a standard par 72 course.
Yep. Professional golfers are very good indeed, and even though scratch and sub-5 handicap players are also in the elite class of golf, a plus handicap player is a huge step above that.
Which Professional Golfers Have Club Handicaps?
On your, handicaps are not a consideration, but many professional golfers play at clubs as regular golfers do, and they keep handicaps. Let’s look at a few of those players now and see which pro golfers have club handicaps and what they are.
In the 2005/2006 PGA season, Tiger Woods would have had a handicap of almost +8, which is unheard of in golf. If he had played club golf, he would have shot an average of 64 to achieve that level!
One of the clubs where pro golfers hold handicaps is Whisper Rock in Arizona, and a number of the elite players play there and have handicaps when they do.
Geoff Ogilvy holds a +5.8 handicap; Martin Kaymer is rated at +6.6, Paul Casey at +6, Phil Mickelson at +5.2, and the colorful Bubba Watson has a +7.7 handicap when he plays at Isleworth Country Club.
Now, compare that to the +7.9 of Tiger, and you understand how good this man truly was; when he is between 2.7 and 1.3 shots per round better than some of the best that ever played!
Achieving a plus handicap at amateur or professional level takes an incredible amount of time, patience, commitment and working with some of the best coaches.
What Average Handicap Would You Need To Turn Pro?
Turning professional in golf is more than just about scores as you’d have to complete your degree as well, but from the scoring perspective, if you aren’t shooting under par in at least half of the events you compete in, you won’t make the professional cut.
There is much more to professional golf than the handicap, and even at +3 or better, you may not be able to mentally cope with the pressure of playing at that level consistently. We have all seen pro golfers implode during major events, and this is where the mindset and physical conditioning come into play.
Making the cut in professional events means handling your emotions and dealing with the ups and downs of pro golf. Your physical conditioning, nutrition, and hydration will play a big role in maintaining energy levels, while focus, concentration, and mental toughness are needed to play at this level.
Remember that your handicap is only a measure of your golfing ability and would have no bearing on any other aspect of your game, but to achieve a professional handicap level means you already have these abilities and skillsets – or you would not be playing at this level.
The goal of the professional is to make the cut for the weekend rounds as this is where money is earned, and while cut lines can vary from two over par to five under par or more, you need to be consistent in that range to play pro golf.
A survey done in 2015 that took 14000 rounds of golf into account showed that the difference between professional and scratch golf handicaps was considerable as pro golfers play from longer tees and have higher course handicap ratings than at scratch level.
Compared to scratch golfers, the professional would be between three and five shots better per round on average, and this is why many amateur and scratch players that enter pro-am events don’t make the cut for the weekend.
The increased course difficulty and pressure test players to the limit, and while some step up and shine, most do not.
The average handicap for a professional golfer (if they kept them) would be between +4 and +8 at best, and remember that this is an average. Some days the scores will be above that, with players shooting 62 or even the occasional sub-60 round!
Most golfers can only watch and admire that level of golf, and while we may aspire to plus handicap status, the reality is that very few players ever reach that, and those that do still may not be good enough to be professional golfers.