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A mid-handicap golfer shoots in the 80s and 90s.
If your handicap is between roughly 11 and 20 -- there is no official definition of handicap levels -- you are generally considered to be a mid-handicap golfer. If your handicap is accurate, you'll usually shoot between 85 and 95. But if you're determined to reach the next level and become a low-handicapper with a handicap in the single digits, capable of breaking 80 on a regular basis, you'll have to practice hard and perhaps tweak your equipment as well.
USGA Handicap Index
Handicaps are established by the United States Golf Association (USGA) for the purpose of setting up an equitable match between any two golfers with a USGA Handicap Index, the official designation for handicaps. The handicap index is a sophisticated and complicated system that takes into account the difficulty of each of the thousands of golf courses rated by the USGA for handicapping purposes. However, the result is a simple number that you can use in both casual matches and tournaments. For example, if you have a 15 handicap and your buddy carries a 12 handicap, he must give you three strokes during the match.
Handicaps Versus Actual Scores
As the USGA explains, your mid-handicap does not mirror your actual scores. If it did, an 11 handicap would average scores in the low-80s rather than the mid-80s. Instead, the USGA handicap is determined on your "potential" rather than the average of your scores. Specifically, the best 10 out of 20 scores are used to determine your handicap. As a result, you'll generally shoot about three strokes over your handicap in relation to par.
Percentage of Mid-Handicappers
If you are a mid-handicapper, you're in good company. Golfers who shoot in the single digits make up about 37 percent of all golfers. Golfers with handicaps of more than 20 comprise about 20 percent of all golfers, at least of all golfers who turn in their scores to establish a handicap. So about 43 percent of golfers fall into the mid-handicap category, according to USGA statistics.
A mid-handicapper hits his share of good shots and also hits plenty of bad shots. Equipment manufacturers have responded accordingly to the different skill levels of golfers in recent decades, designing clubs particularly suitable for low, middle and high-handicappers. Clubs slanted to mid-handicappers are called game-improvement or super game-improvement clubs. They are designed with a larger central hitting zone, or sweet spot, which makes your mishits travel somewhat farther and straighter. The degree of "forgiveness" you need as a mid-handicapper is best determined by a club fitting, which will evaluate your individual swing. If you become a low-handicapper, clubs that reward solid and consistent ball-striking, known as players clubs, might be in your future.