The Golf Handicap and Information Network calculates and posts amateur golfers' handicap indexes so golfers of different ability levels can play against each other on a more level playing field. Using a course handicap table that tells players how to adjust their scores, players convert handicap indexes to course handicaps.
GHIN calculates golfers' handicap indexes based on their scores and the difficulty rating of the courses they play. Using handicaps allows golfers to evaluate their performance based on how well they play relative to their own skill level and the difficulty of the course. The U.S. Golf Association rates golf courses around the country with a precise mathematical formula to create the course handicap table.
The uniform rating systems means that golfers can accurately adjust their scores based on the difficulty of a particular course and directly compare their performances on one course to their performances on other, similarly rated courses. While playing, golfers use their course handicaps to cap their scores on each hole. If a course is too difficult for a player's skill level, the handicap lets the player finish with a score that is comparable to the score of a player with a much higher skill level.