What is a Mid-Handicapper (Low, Mid & High)

What is a Mid-Handicapper? (Low, Mid & High)

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While official golf associations tend to talk in terms of handicap indexes, many golfers use informal terms like ‘mid handicapper’ and ‘low handicapper’. 

Those new to the sport often wonder what these terms mean and what their purpose is! In this article, we’ll cover:

  • What a mid-handicapper is
  • Different categories of mid-handicappers
  • Common characteristics of a mid-handicapper
  • Tips for mid-handicappers who wish to progress to a low handicap.

Let’s tee off!

Different Categories of Mid-Handicappers

golf mid-handicapper explained

Mid-handicappers are grouped into lower mid-handicappers, mid-mid-handicappers, and higher-mid-handicappers.

Here, let’s briefly review what each category stands for and what qualifies you to be in them:

Lower mid handicappers

This category of mid-handicappers plays off a 10 to 12. As expected, these golfers will shoot low 80s, although there’ll be times when they can break into the 70s.

Mid mid handicappers

Golfers in this category would find themselves regularly scoring in the mid to high 80s. If you typically play off a 13 to 16, you belong to this category of mid-handicappers.

Higher mid handicappers

The last subcategory of mid-handicappers typically consists of golfers who have just graduated from the beginner ranks and are beginning to gain more consistency. 

Golfers in this category would usually play off a 16 to 18 and can shoot high 80s to mid-90s.

Characteristics of a Mid Handicapper

Since one’s handicap is primarily determined by their overall performance, there can be significant variation in the strengths and weaknesses between any two mid-handsappers. 

However, if you talk to a lot of people who know their handicap, you may notice some trends:

  • Mid-handicappers often have a good conceptual grasp of the rules of golf and many recommended techniques. These players struggle more with the practical execution of those techniques
  • They are often capable of enjoying the game and being competitive with players of similar skill levels without feeling too overwhelmed
  • They typically have a decent swing when it comes to distance.

Common practical weaknesses shared by many mid-handicappers include:

  • A lack of accuracy on long-distance shots made with the driver and other woods
  • A lack of intuition for finding the best club for a given situation. This does not entirely come down to theory, being partially influenced by the individual’s play style.

Some common mistakes made by mid-handicappers that contribute to their score include:

  • Hitting too hard, leading to reduced control and accuracy
  • Overcompensating for slices and hooks by aiming at extreme angles
  • Overcompensating for excessively conservative or aggressive shots, alternating between extremes.

Tips for Improve Your Game and Move From Mid to Low Handicap

It feels good to see the results from your hard work and constant practice showing up in your score! 

Playing better, scoring lower, and watching your handicap drop are all signs that you’re improving your game. 

Unfortunately, you won’t experience these unless you put in the effort to grow your game.

Here are our 6 Honest Golfer tips to climb from a mid-handicapper to a low handicapper:

1. Practice consistent drives with reasonable distance

One of the first tips every top golfer will offer for improving your handicap is to hit solid drives with good distance consistently.

Good drives typically set the stage for the rest of the hole, making short game shorts and approaches easier. Therefore, you’ll be in better positions to attack par 5s.

As you continue to practice hitting solid drives, your posture and setup routines will improve.

2. Minimize three putts

One major factor that differentiates handicap groups is the number of three puts.

To become a low-handicap golfer, you must learn to minimize the number of three puts you’ll hit.

Over time, you can develop the ability to improve the distance and speed of your ball rolls so that your first putt can settle closer to the pin. This would naturally take so much stress off your second putt.

3. Practice curving your ball on command

You’ve probably heard how important it is to have one basic swing and one basic ball flight in your quest to become better! However, to move to the next step, you’ll need the ability to slice or hook the ball on demand. 

This way, you can maneuver doglegs and trouble shots that you may encounter around trees and other disruptions.

The whole idea of curving the ball can seem intimidating at first, but it’s something you can learn with constant practice.

One of the easiest ways to achieve this is by adjusting your grip by turning both hands in the same direction so that your thumb would be in the same direction as the shaft.

4. Fewer penalty shots

To become better at golf, you must master keeping your ball in play. 

This doesn’t mean you won’t hit bad shots, but you should know when there’s a problem and adjust accordingly.

5. Identify gaps in your course management

This means identifying situations in which you are employing an inappropriate club or technique. 

This can range from using the wrong kind of club or technique consistently in a given section of the course to using the wrong kind of club or technique on certain kinds of courses or in certain weather conditions.

6. Develop your mental game

Another non-theoretical aspect of golf that can’t be learned from a book or website is the mental game, which differs from person to person. 

This is about developing self-awareness about how your emotions and thought patterns change throughout a round and how that affects your play. 

For example, becoming impatient often causes aggressive attempts at recovery that only make sticky situations worse.


What is a respectable handicap?

In general, it is safe to say that a respectable handicap is a handicap that is comfortably better than average. 

According to the USGA, the average handicap for women is 28, while the average handicap for men is 14. If your handicap is lower than that for your demographic, that’s respectable.

Can I calculate my own handicap?

All the raw information required to calculate your handicap is contained on a course scorecard. 

Calculating your handicap involves a lengthy sequence of simple steps. Most people prefer to use one of the many free calculators online to find their handicap.

What is the highest handicap a man can have?

Under USGA rules, the highest possible handicap index is 54, regardless of gender.

What handicap do you need for the PGA Tour?

The PGA Tour doesn’t actually take handicaps into account. However, the average handicap of a PGA tour player is +5.4, so they are quite literally off the charts.