May 11, 2023

What is a Scratch Golfer?

Scratch golfers are considered among the elite players in this beloved sport, and many dedicated 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 golfer’, 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 the exceptional scratch golfers, then this is the article for you.

Short Summary

  • A scratch golfer is a player who has achieved a golf handicap of 0 or lower, making them one of the best players in the world.
  • Becoming one requires dedication, perseverance, natural aptitude, honed technique, and guidance from experienced professionals.
  • Being a scratch golfer provides access to challenging courses, equitable competition, and respect from fellow golfers.

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 all officially rated courses. Their Handicap is determined by their scores on rated golf courses, with the expectation that they can play to a Course Handicap of zero on any and all rated golf courses. This means they can anticipate shooting a score equivalent to the course rating assigned to the course.

The distinction between a scratch and a professional golfer is that a scratch golfer has a handicap index of 0 or lower, while a professional golfer does not possess a handicap index. It is typically assumed that a professional golfer would average 5 to 6 strokes lower than a scratch golfer on the same course on the same day. The average score for a golfer with a 0 handicap index is typically in the range of 74-75 for the course of a year.

Scratch golfers differ from bogey golfers as they are able to shoot par or better on every hole in two shots or less, meaning they can hit tee shots and then sink the putt in one stroke less than the number of strokes assigned to the hole. They are also typically able to hit tee shots consistently and are able to select the right clubs for the situation, much like professional golfers such as Tiger Woods.

In the United States, they are as defined by the USGA. Such players have the capability of playing to a course handicap of zero on any rated golf courses. As such, scratch golfers are often considered the best of the best when it comes to playing golf and are looked up to by other golfers, both male and female, who wish to become a scratch golfer or a scratch player.

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

A scratch golfer is a player who has the ability to complete a round of golf at par or better. It is estimated that only 1.85% of male and 0.69% of female 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 golfers. This means that there are an extremely small number of golfers 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 golfer than most on the golf course.

Scratch golfers differ from pro golfers, such as Tiger Woods, who can hit tee shots an average of 330 yards and can reach a 470 yard hole in two shots or less. Scratch golfers are also much better than the average bogey golfer, who can only reach a hole in three shots.

What Does It Take To Become a Scratch Golfer?

Achieving this status requires dedication, perseverance, natural aptitude, established objectives, honed technique, and a love for the game. Natural talent and determination are paramount in achieving this status.

To reach and maintain the status, golfers must practice regularly and seek out advice from experienced professionals while concentrating on areas they are deficient in. Awareness and monitoring of distances is critical for successful, consistent, and precise shots. Scratch golfers typically 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?

A scratch golfer is one who has an average score of zero on regulation golf courses, a feat which requires a tremendous amount of skill and dedication. Being a one provides a golfer with a range of advantages, including the ability to achieve par scores on any course they play, access to courses that are specifically designed to challenge and improve their skill level, and equitable competition in scramble tournaments.

The term ‘scratch golfer’ originates from a handicapping system employed in running races, wherein the swiftest runners would commence from a line scratched into the ground. Scratch golfers differ from bogey golfers in that they have the ability to hit tee shots consistently for rating purposes. This is beneficial for both male and female scratch golfers, as it allows them to compete on equal footing with other golfers of varying abilities. Furthermore, scratch golfers are among the most respected and admired golfers in the world, being recognized as the best among their peers.


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

Achieving the title of a scratch golfer 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a scratch golfer and pro?

A clear distinction exists between scratch golfers and professional golfers. Scratch golfers typically have a handicap index of 0 or lower, yet their average score falls 5-6 shots higher than a pro on the same course and during the same day.

As such, professionals can be viewed as a cut above even the most proficient amateur players.

Can anyone be a scratch golfer?

While a nearly impossible feat for many, scratch golfing is attainable. According to the USGA, a “Scratch Golfer” is someone able to play any rated golf course with a Course Handicap of zero. Such a player should be able to hit tee shots an average of 250 yards and reach a 470-yard hole in two shots at sea level.

While not easy, becoming one is possible. With dedication and practice, anyone can reach this level of play. It is important to focus on the fundamentals of the game, such as proper grip and stance.

What is a scratch golfers handicap?

A scratch golfer’s handicap is 0 – they have the skills and expertise to make par on any golf course. Handicaps are intended to level the playing field for all golfer differences, so a scratch golfer effectively has no handicap.

What is a 0 handicap in golf?

Zero handicap players are the best in golf. These players can reach par on a golf course without taking any extra strokes.

A negative handicap means that these golfers have an even greater level of skill, beating par by more than one stroke in their average game.

What is the difference between a scratch golfer and pro?

The clear distinction between a professional golfer and a scratch golfer is the handicap index. While professional golfers typically average around 5 or 6 shots better than scratch golfers on the same course, they do not actually carry a handicap index at all.

Scratch golfers, on the other hand, begin with a handicap index of 0 or even lower.

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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