Handicap is the term used for a number or system of ratings that are applied to golfers’ scores. It is a very important aspect of the game as it allows people from different skill levels to compete on an equal basis. It is also necessary for fair wagering when betting on games like golf. Having a handicap that accurately reflects your level of skill will allow you to see how your skills are improving or declining over time, and can help you determine when you need to raise or lower your handicap accordingly.
The word handicap is derived from the old practice of “hand in cap,” where bettors would put their money into a hat held by a neutral third party before placing a bet. It was also used to refer to any disadvantage, as in “the search was handicapped by darkness.” The modern use of the term is based on a more scientific and mathematical concept that involves the distribution of scoring compensation to players and competitors in order to achieve fairness in competitive sports.
Handicapping is used in many sports including go, shogi, chess, croquet, bowling, polo, golf, and track and field events. It is also widely used in the scoring of recreational games such as billiards and poker. Occasionally, the practice is also used in human foot race competitions where runners are physically staggered at the start of the event based on their ability level. Generally, you must play in qualifying competitions in order to maintain an official handicap, and your handicap is reviewed regularly throughout the year in order to make sure it stays accurate.