Most golfers catch the golf bug and strive to improve their game over time. At the beginning of your golf journey you’ll shoot in the 100s like every other player. But depending on your amount of practice time and dedication you can start shooting in the 90s or 80s fast.
As your game improves, your handicap will decrease as it’s based on the scores you input in the system. The more times you enter lower scores (especially if they’re tournament rounds), the lower your handicap will drop.
Keep reading to learn the different types of handicaps, how to get better at golf, and the best clubs for mid-handicap players.
Before getting into what is a mid-handicappers, it’s important to understand the averages for men and women. According to the USGA, the average male handicap is 14.2 while the average female handicap is 27.5.
But remember, handicap does not equal the score you “should” shoot every single round. For example if you’re a 15 handicap you shouldn’t shoot 87 every time you tee it up. As a mid handicapper your score range can vary from 82-92 depending on the course and day.
Now that we have the average handicaps let’s get into the different types of golfers based on those handicaps.
High Handicap (20+)
So, what is a high handicap in golf?
These players are often just getting started in the journey and/or might not have as much time to practice. High handicap golfers are anyone who has more than a 20 handicap.
Scores are typically in the 90-100+ range depending on the course difficulty. These players should play from normal men tees or senior tees (the color of each box changes based on the course).
These golfers should play with forgiving game improvement clubs (hybrids, fairway woods) instead of long irons. Not to mention benefit greatly from lighter shafts to help naturally increase clubhead speed and distance.
With short game they would benefit most from cavity back wedges and a forgiving, easy to hit putter. Plus, having a putter with built-in alignment aids can also help get the ball started on the correct line and avoid three putts more often.
Mid Handicappers (10-20)
So, what is a mid-handicap in golf?
The next group of players are known as mid-handicap golfers. Since the average handicap level is 14.2, we establish that mid handicaps are between 10-20.
A mid handicapper tends to shoot in the 80s and 90s depending on the golf course. Most average golfers should play the normal men tees or possibly one tee box back. We’ll break down the best type of clubs for these kinds of players in just a second.
Low Handicappers (0-9)
The third type of handicap golfers are known as low handicaps.
Low handicap refers to players who have a single digit handicap as they’re more likely to shoot scores in the 70s quite often. They tend to play one back from normal men’s tee boxes or the championship tees depending on the golf course.
According to the USGA report only about 25% of golfers are considered low handicap or scratch players. This is a great golf goal for serious players who want to push themselves and play in tournaments.
Low handicap players tend to use less forgiving clubs (more long irons) and usually a fourth wedge as well. It’s also beneficial to get a full bag fitting with an emphasis on your driver and putter. These two clubs play such a pivotal role in making sure you score well every single round.
Scratch Golfers (or Better)
The final type of golfers are known as scratch golfers who have close to a zero handicap. This means that in most rounds they shoot right around par (sometimes a few over, sometimes a few under).
Aside from scratch golfers there are also plus handicaps as well. These players actually have a +1 or +2.5, etc. which means they shoot under par a lot more often. Professional golfers on the PGA Tour tend to have handicaps of +5 to even +7 (which is crazy to think about).
According to the USGA study we’ve referenced in this article only 20,000 golfers in the United States are a +1.0 or better. This requires a lot of time to master your swing, short game, and mindset but a great goal to shoot for if you’re committed to golf.
Scratch players use the most advanced equipment due to higher than normal swing speeds. These players tend to use heavier, stiffer shafts to help improve accuracy and reduce spin. Plus, clubs are geared more towards working the golf ball vs. forgiveness.
Expect these golfers to compete in golf tournaments and play frequently in men’s clubs as well. Click here to learn how to become a scratch golfer now.
Best Golf Clubs for Mid-Handicappers
So, what type of clubs should mid handicappers use? You’re in the middle spot in terms of golf equipment but luckily there are more options than ever in the mid handicap category.
Driver and Fairway Woods
Mid-handicappers will benefit from the middle-forgiveness driver in a series. For example, Callaway Golf offers the Rogue ST Max, ST Max-D, and two Triple Diamond versions.
The Rogue ST is ideal for middle-handicap golfers thanks to a draw bias and extra forgiveness. Mid-handicap golfers want to get a driver and fairway woods that are a perfect blend of distance and forgiveness.
Irons and Hybrids
The same goes with hybrids – most mid-handicap golfers will benefit from cavity back irons. Blades and muscle backs are best for low handicap and scratch golfers as they aren’t very forgiving. But cavity back irons provide plenty of forgiveness but enough workability to shape shots too.
Plus, don’t forget to have a driving iron and/or hybrid (or two) in the bag too. Replace hard to hit long irons with these clubs for a more consistent long game.
Here are some of our favorite mid handicap irons.
Mid-handicap golfers should have three wedges; pitching, gap, and sand wedge. Skip the lob wedge for now and use the extra club for your long game. Plus, lob wedges aren’t the easiest clubs to hit.
Finally if you’re a mid-handicap golfer use a forgiving putter that is easy to line up. If you mark your golf ball too it should make lining putts easier than ever.
3 Tips to Become a Low Handicap
Once you have the right equipment follow these three steps to start shooting lower scores fast.
1. Dial in Your Pre-Shot Routine
A pre-shot routine is one of the most important parts of shooting lower scores. A consistent routine in golf will:
- Overcome nerves
- Speed up pace of play
- Swing with confidence
- Minimize doubt and fear over tough shots
- Help you analyze the shot (and pick the right club)
All low handicap, scratch, and pro golfers have a routine that they stick to. Click here to learn how to create a pre-shot routine in golf.
2. Spend More Time with Your Driver
Your driver is one of the most important clubs in the bag. Yet, so many amateur golfers are terrified of hitting driver because they fear a slice and/or hitting it out of bounds.
To overcome these fears, spend more time on the range with your driver. Focus specifically on hitting one shot shape; this is your “go to” shot on 99% of par 4s and 5s.
When you have a go-to shot (which should be your natural shot shape) it makes it so much easier to step on the tee box with confidence. Also, don’t forget to adjust your driver settings (in the hosel and/or with sliding weights) to make sure it fits your swing.
3. Minimize Three Putts
Finally, don’t forget to spend plenty of time on the putting green too. Focus on two distances in putting practice:
- Inside six feet: These are the putts you statistically have the best chance of making and can play a big role in shooting lower scores. Plus, these putts can give you tons of momentum when you can save par after missing the green.
- 30 Feet: This is about the average distance you’ll have when you hit a green in regulation. Don’t waste good approach shots with three putts from mid-range.
FAQs About Handicap and Lowering Your Scores
Do you have more questions about lowering your handicap and playing better? If so, keep reading through the most frequently asked questions and answers below.
Does handicap equal score?
No, your handicap is your best scores more than your average scores. The handicapping system is an elaborate process that factors in tee boxes played, total score, tournament vs. casual round, and a lot of other factors.
But it doesn’t mean you “should” shoot your handicap every round. It’s more of a guideline as golf is quite an inconsistent game. For example a 10 handicap golfer could shoot in the 70s, low 80s, or even high 80s depending on the specific day.
What does a mid-handicapper shoot? High handicappers?
The average score for a mid-handicap player can range from low 80s to 90s depending on the course, conditions, and other factors mentioned above. While high handicappers tend to shoot in the 90s and 100+ range.
What handicap is a 95 golfer?
A golfer who shots in the mid 90s is probably around an 18-20 handicap. As mentioned in the previous question there are a lot of factors when it comes to scoring. The slope and course rating, weather conditions, tournament vs. casual round, and other factors play a role in total score.
What is a respectable golf handicap?
The average golfer has a 14.2 index. There is no “respectable” golf handicap – instead try to get better everyday day, week, and year. The only person you should ever compare yourself to is your past self as you progress handicap levels.
Is 16 a mid-handicap?
Yes, anything between a 10-20 is considered a mid-handicap golfer. Someone with a 16-handicap will shoot in the high 80s to mid 90s depending on the day, course, conditions, etc.
What is considered mid-handicap in golf?
While there’s no definitive range the average handicap for male golfers is 14.2. We put the mid-handicap range between 10-20. A low handicapper below 10 and a high handicapper above 20.
Final Thoughts on Mid-Handicap Golfers
If your handicap car is between 10-20, you’re considered a mid-handicapper. This is a great zone to strive towards and with a few changes can become a low handicap golfer too.
If you’re committed to playing your best golf (at any level) make sure to always emphasize short game and mental game. Most golfers spend too much time on the driving range with full swings but these two aspects of the game have a dramatic effect on your scores. As Jack Nicklaus said, “Golf is 90% mental, only 10% physical.”