July 13, 2023

What is a Scratch Golfer?

Scratch golfers are considered among the elite players in this beloved sport, and many dedicated amateur golfers strive to reach this acclaimed status, but just what is a scratch golfer?

This comprehensive guide delves into the origins of the expression ‘scratch player‘, the benefits that come with being a scratch golfer, and what it takes to become one. Furthermore, the article will examine how to maintain a steady tempo, set goals, and develop essential techniques, as well as the correlation between course rating and score for scratch golfers.

Additionally, it will explore the number of men and women who meet the criteria for classifying as a scratch golfer in the United States and the difference between a scratch golfer and a professional golfer. Finally, the article will discuss what is a scratch golfer, and how their handicap is determined.

If you have ever wondered what is needed to join the ranks of exceptional scratch golfers, then this is the article for you.

What is a Scratch Golfer?

A female scratch golfer playing golf on a course with a course handicap of zero

A scratch golfer is a player who has achieved a golf handicap of 0 or lower, or a player who has a calculated handicap of 0 on any or all all rated golf courses.


  • A scratch golfer is a remarkable player who has achieved a golf handicap of 0 or lower. Alternatively, they can have a calculated handicap of 0 on all officially rated courses. Unlike professional players, scratch golfers possess a handicap index.

Handicap Determination:

  • The handicap of a scratch golfer is determined by their scores on rated golf courses. It is expected that they can play with a Course Handicap of zero on any rated course, indicating their ability to match the assigned rating.

Comparison to Professionals:

  • While both scratch players and professional players are highly skilled, there is a distinction. Scratch golfers have a handicap index of 0 or lower, whereas professional players do not possess a handicap index. Typically, professional golfers score 5 to 6 strokes lower than scratch golfers on the same course and day. Over the course of a year, a golfer with a zero handicap index usually averages around 74-75 strokes.

Superior to Bogey Golfers:

  • Scratch golfers stand apart from bogey golfers due to their ability to consistently shoot par or better on every hole in two shots or less. This means they can hit tee shots and sink the putt in one stroke less than the assigned number of strokes for the hole.

Recognized by USGA:

  • In the United States, they are defined by the United States Golf Association (USGA). They are players who possess the exceptional skill to play with a handicap of zero on any rated golf course. Consequently, they are revered as the epitome of golfing excellence and serve as role models for aspiring male and female golfers aiming to reach scratch golf player status.

How Common Are Scratch Golfers?

A male scratch golfer hitting a tee shot an average of 250 yards and can reach a 470 yard hole in two shots at sea level

scratch golfer is a player who has the ability to complete a round of golf at par or better.

This means that there are an extremely small number of players that reach this level in the United States.

The definition is subjective, but generally, it means that the player is able to shoot two shots at sea level and can reach a 470 yard hole in two shots or less.

This is much more difficult than the average golfer, as they usually hit tee shots an average of 250 yards, with a course rating of 72 and a course handicap of 18.

To become one, you must be able to play golf at an even par or better, which means that you have to be a better player than most golfers on the golf course.

They differ from pro golfers, such as Tiger Woods, who can hit an average of 330 yards and can reach a 470-yard hole in two shots or less.

They are also much better than the average bogey golfer, who can only reach a hole in three shots.

Male VS Female Scratch Golfer Stats

It is estimated that only 0.69% of female and 1.85% of male golfers in the United States possess a Handicap Index of 0 or lower, meaning that less than 35,000 men and approximately 3,000 women meet the criteria to be considered scratch players.

What Does It Take To Become a Scratch Golfer?

If you want to become a scratch golfer (or scratch player), you need to know it requires dedication, perseverance, natural aptitude, established objectives, honed technique, mental game, and a love for the game. You have to practice effectively, play a lot, fail, learn from your mistakes, adjust, and stay positive. Natural talent and determination are paramount in achieving scratch golfer status.

To reach and maintain the status, you must practice effectively and seek out advice from experienced professionals while concentrating on areas you are deficient. Don’t be afraid to spend time at the driving range!

Awareness and monitoring of distances is critical for successful, consistent, and precise shots.

You’ll typically want to maintain a 3:1 full swing tempo ratio. Maintaining a steady tempo can result in smoother and more consistent swings.

Becoming a scratch golfer is a difficult but rewarding process. It requires dedication, talent, and a passion for the sport. With hard work, commitment, and guidance, any golfer can reach the coveted status.

What Are The Benefits Of Being A Scratch Golfer?

Benefits of being a scratch golfer:

  • Ability to achieve par scores on any course they play.
  • Access to courses that are specifically designed to challenge and improve their skill level.
  • Equitable competition in scramble tournaments.
  • Scratch golfers are among the most respected and admired golfers in the world, being recognized as the best among their peers.

Final Thoughts

The life of a scratch golfer is full of incredible achievements and recognition. It requires patience, dedication, natural aptitude, and superior technique to your own game to achieve the ultimate goal of achieving a 0 or below handicap.

Achieving the title comes with several benefits such as access to exclusive golf courses, equity in competition, and respect from other golfers around the globe. Taking the time to master the art of becoming a scratch golfer will not go unrewarded and will pave the way for a lifetime of success on the green.

About the author 

Linda Parker

My name is Linda Parker, I’ve been around golf since I was born, and I’ve been golfing since I was four years old!

I’m here to share my love of the game with you, so please do let me know if you have any questions!

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