Buffer Zones and Stoke Index

Read this article to find out how your golf handicap is calculated. Learn about the SSS, buffer zones and how your golf handicap calculation changes with each round you play.

Golf Handicap Buffer Zones and Stroke Index

Buffer Zones

Each time you add a scorecard, your golf handicap is recalculated. The Buffer Zones relate to your Handicap and determines how you handicap changes, either up or down. As your handicap decreases, becomes closer to 0, it becomes more difficult to lower your handicap. You will also notice that your handicap does not jump up when you have had a bad round, but increases slowly.


Your handicap is always to one decimal point, but for playing and calculation purposes, your handicap is rounded up or down to give a playing handicap. An actual handicap of 14.3 is a playing handicap of 14. 14.5 is a playing handicap of 15.


Reduction (shot) Increase
0.1 - 5.4
5.5 - 12.4
12.5 - 20.4
20.5 - 28.4
28.5 +

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Adjusting your Scores

The firstly thing that takes place after adding your scorecard is that your score must be adjusted. The maximum score possible on any hole is +2 and therefore, if you play +8 on a Par 5, you adjusted score will be +7, 2 over Par.

Why adjust your golf scores? - The reason for adjusting your golf scores is to not penalize very bad holes. If you shot 10 over par on one hole but played bogey on every other hole, a handicap value of 27 would not reflect your playing ability. The next time you play you might play +18 over par and play -9 under your handicap.

Stroke Index - Shots Awarded

The stroke index gives every hole on the course a rating between 1 to 18.

In Matchplay, depending on your handicap, you are rewarded a number of strokes on certain holes based on their Stroke Index.

Within Europe, the stroke index is used for handicap calculation which is based on Stableford points.

If you have a 6 handicap, then you will be awarded one extra shot on the 6 most difficult holes, i.e. 1 – 6.

If you have a handicap of 12, then you will be awarded one shot on the 12 most difficult holes, stroke index 1 to 12.

If however you have a handicap of 27, you will be awarded one shot for every hole, plus one extra on the 9 most difficult holes. This means you get 2 shots on the 9 most difficult holes and 1 shot on the easiest holes, 

Quick Handicap Calculator

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