How to Get a Golf Handicap Without Joining a Club (Golf Coach)

How to Get a Golf Handicap without Joining a Club Golf Coach Advice from Tell Me More Golf Instructor Team

As the head golf instructor at Tell Me More Golf, one of the most common questions I receive from beginners is how to get a golf handicap, and more specifically, how to do so without joining a club.

A golf handicap allows you to compete with friends and keep track of your progress, but when you’re a beginner, you might not want to invest in an expensive club membership. Keep reading to find out how! 

How to Get a Golf Handicap without Joining a Club

There are a few different ways to get a golf handicap without joining an expensive traditional golf club. Here, we’ve made a list of some of the best options. 

Join an Online Golf Club

If you want to get a golf handicap but don’t want to join a physical golf club, joining an online golf club can be a fantastic idea. Many online golf clubs offer handicap services, and they are often way cheaper than joining traditional golf clubs.

It’s also very easy, as it’s all online. 

To get started, simply search for online golf clubs and choose one that suits your needs. Some online clubs offer free membership, while others require a small fee, which is usually just a couple of bucks. 

Once you’ve joined, you’ll be able to enter your scores online and the club will calculate your handicap for you.

It’s important to note that not all online golf clubs are recognized by official golf associations, so if you’re interested in using your handicap for tournaments or other official events, always check that the club is recognized by the association you’re affected by, such as the USGA or R&A. 

Calculate It by Yourself

Everyone can calculate their golf handicap by themselves, as the formulas are available online. Doing it this way won’t give you an official handicap, but you will know for yourself how your golf game currently holds up. 

Calculating a golf handicap isn’t that complicated, but there are many steps involved.

A complete guide is too long for this article, so we recommend that you simply search for how to calculate your golf handicap, and you’ll get some great guides. 

Sign Up at a Public Golf Course

While this involves joining a golf club, a public golf course is often very affordable, usually costing less than $100. If your public golf course offers handicap services, it allows you to get an official and one hundred percent accurate golf handicap. 

Join a Golf League

Joining a golf league is another way to get a golf handicap without joining a standard golf club. Golf leagues come in many formats, ranging from casual to more competitive, and they can be found at public courses, driving ranges, and many other golf facilities.

By joining a golf league, you’ll have the opportunity to play with other golfers of similar skill levels and compete in its tournaments and events.

Many golf leagues offer handicap services as part of their membership, which can help you track your progress and improve your game over time

However, it’s important to note that these usually aren’t free, and in many cases, joining an online club or a public golf course is a cheaper option. 

Get an Online Handicap Tracker 

An online handicap tracker is simply a software that allows you to track your handicap. These are not officially accepted, but they’re often free and will give you just as accurate results. Handicap tracker softwares are also easy to use, which is why we think they’re great.


GHIN Number Without Joining a Club

A GHIN number, also known as a “Golf Handicap and Information Network number,” is typically issued to golfers through a golf club or a golf association that is a member of the USGA.

Therefore, in order to get a GHIN number, you usually need to join a golf club or an organization that is affiliated with the USGA.

However, there are some exceptions to this. Some state or regional golf associations may offer individual memberships that include a GHIN number without requiring full membership in the golf club.

This is sometimes true for public courses. 

Some online golf clubs also offer a GHIN number for a fee, meaning that you can get a GHIN number completely online without joining a real club. 


Golf Handicap for Free

The two best ways to get a handicap for no cost at all are to track it yourself or get an online handicap tracker.

Track Your Handicap by Yourself

By keeping track of your handicap by yourself by using the handicap formulas, you can get a handicap without any cost. However, we don’t think this is the best idea as the formulas are relatively long, and there’s a lot of room for error.

Online Handicap Tracker

Online handicap trackers track your handicap, are easy to use, and are sometimes free. Since they’re free of errors, we think they’re a great option.


How to Get an Official Golf Handicap

An official golf handicap is necessary for you to participate in golf events. How to get an official golf handicap depends on the country you’re residing in. For US golfers, an official USGA golf handicap is easiest obtained by following the two easy steps down below.

How to Get a USGA Handicap

Here are the only two steps you need to take to get a USGA handicap. 

Find and Join a USGA Golf Club

To get a USGA handicap, you need to join a USGA golf club. You can find a list of USGA member golf clubs in your area by visiting the USGA website. Most golfers opt for regular golf clubs, but online and public ones can also work.

Establish a Handicap Index

When you’re a member of that club, you can establish a handicap index. To do this, you will need to post at least five scores of 18 holes or more from real golf courses. This is easiest done at GHIN, where you enter your GHIN number, fill in the scores, and they calculate everything for you. 


Are There Online Options?

There are online options for getting a handicap, both when it comes to official and unofficial ones. 

Official Online Handicap

To get an official online handicap, you need to join a USGA-authorized online golf club. You can search for this on the web to find suitable options. 

Unofficial Online Handicap

You can get an unofficial online handicap in a few different ways, including unofficial online clubs, and an online handicap tracker.

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How to get a GHIN number without joining a club?

To get a GHIN number without joining a traditional golf club, we recommend signing up at an online golf club or at your local public golf course.

Both of these options involve joining a club, but they’re very affordable in comparison to standard golf club memberships. 

Public golf courses often offer GHIN and handicap services without becoming a full member, usually costing less than $100. The same goes for online golf clubs. 

Can I get a handicap without being a member of a club?

Generally speaking, the best way to obtain an official golf handicap is by being a member of a golf club. This is because it makes it harder to cheat with your handicap, as the golf club can keep track of you and ensure everything is measured correctly.

However, it’s possible to get a handicap without being a member of a traditional and expensive golf club. For golfers looking for another way, we recommend joining an online golf club or a public golf course. These are two affordable and easy options.

Can I get a USGA handicap online?

Yes, you can get a USGA handicap online. The most popular way of going about this is to first join a golf club associated with USGA and GHIN. This will get you a GHIN number that can be put into GHIN’s website or mobile app. 

From there, you can input your scores from the golf course, and after five rounds, you will receive a one hundred percent accurate USGA handicap.

Can you get a golf handicap playing on your own?

You can not post golf scores for official handicap purposes when playing on your own. You can always play golf alone, but the scores aren’t usable for your handicap as golf relies on peer review.

Without playing with another golfer, you might forget about a certain rule or something similar. That’s why this rule is in place, despite it being quite annoying for solo golfers

How do you establish a golf handicap?

There are many ways to go about establishing a golf handicap, but we recommend doing the following, as it’s easy and gives you an official handicap.

Firstly, you need to join a golf club. Online clubs and public courses can work if they’re associated with the USGA and GHIN. 

Secondly, take the GHIN number you’ve received from the previous step and create a GHIN profile on their website or app.

Lastly, input the scores of your five latest rounds in the GHIN index calculator, and you receive your official golf handicap. 

What’s my handicap if I have never played golf?

There’s no such thing as a starting handicap in golf. Instead, all handicaps are individual, and you don’t have one until you’ve played a few rounds. However, the max handicap is 54, which can give you a good idea of a complete beginner’s handicap.

What happens if you don’t have an official handicap?

The only drawback of not having an official handicap is that it can prevent you from joining certain golf competitions, events, etc. However, an unofficial handicap can still be used when playing with your friends, as long as they’re okay with it. 



In this article, we’ve covered the different ways of getting a golf handicap without joining a traditional golf club. Golf club memberships are probably the best way to get an official handicap, but they can be expensive.

For golfers looking to save on their handicap, online golf clubs are an easy and affordable way to get a handicap. There are also other options, such as online handicap trackers, but these aren’t officially recognized.


Patrick Corley Tell Me More Golf Instructor and Coach
Patrick Corley
From a golf scholarship to a Southern California University, to a private golf coaching career and an instructor position at a nonprofit organization, I’m here to help you get better at golf! With my 50+ years of golf experience; I bring you Tell Me More Golf. A golf coaching website that helps your game with instructional golfing content that’s ultimately geared toward making you a better golfer and having more fun!
Our golf instructor team brings it all to you, so enjoy!

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