What is a Scratch Golfer?

Golf is a complicated sport for many beginners. From your posture to your swing, you will have a lot of things to master. You won’t be an expert overnight. Aside from skills and techniques, you should also be familiar with the terms. Knowing golf lingo will help you be better. Among others, one word that you need to know is scratch golfer.

Aside from knowing what is a scratch golfer, it is also crucial that you learn how to become one. If you are clueless, keep on reading and learn from the insights we’ll share.

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What is a Scratch Golfer?

What is a Scratch Golfer

The United States Golf Association defines a scratch golfer as “a player who can play to a course handicap of zero on any and all rated golf courses.” This is the updated definition. In the past, the scratch golfer term does not consider the handicaps or scores of the players. Instead, it was defined as “an amateur player who plays to the standard of the stroke play qualifiers competing in the United States Amateur Championship.”

To put things in perspective, being a professional golfer requires a handicap of at least 4.4 for men and at least 6.4 for women. So, this means that becoming a scratch golfer is one endeavor that is exclusive to select few with exceptional skills. It is crucial to define scratch golfer because it is an important element of handicapping systems, as well as of slope and course rating.

For a better understanding of what does the term scratch golfer mean, it is also important that you learn what a handicap is. Simply put, a handicap is an assigned number that indicates a golfer’s aptitude. To be specific, it is the number of strokes a player can make over a par in an average 18-hole round.

Another important thing to note about scratch golfer definition is that there are differences on men and women. For rating purposes, a male scratch player is someone who hits tee shots of 250 yards and must reach a 470-yard hole in two shots at sea level. On the other hand, for female scratch golfers, the requirement is to have average tee shots of 210 yards and hit a 400-yard hole in two shots at sea level.

A scratch handicap is rare. Even professional golfers will not qualify. Based on information from the USGA, there are only .37 percent of women golfers and 1.6% of men golfers who qualify as scratch golfer. If you are a recreational player, chances are, you are far from meeting the requirements of scratch golfers.

How to be a Scratch Golfer

How to be a Scratch Golfer

We do not mean to discourage you but being a scratch golfer is an elusive feat. Only a select few are lucky enough to have such a designation. Nonetheless, if you are curious about how to become a scratch golfer, below are some of the things that you can do.

Master Your Distances

Master Your Distances

One of the most important statistics that will be looked at is your distance, so it is one thing you need to work on. The best players know the art of distance control. This is possible by constantly measuring and improving as needed. You should be familiar with how far you are hitting the club every time. This will let you know how much effort you need to exert for achieving the target distance.

Work on Your Swing

Work on Your Golf Swing

It goes without saying that achieving a pro golfer handicap means that you should master your swinging techniques. Learning the fundamentals will make a huge difference from being a novice to an expert golfer. Among others, one of the most important is to have a right and constant grip. Knowing the proper stance is equally important as it impacts the quality of your swing.

Increase Your Speed

Increase Your Swing Speed

Speaking of swing mastery, you also need to work on your speed. The faster you swing, the easier it will be to achieve a golf handicap of zero. You should work towards having a speed of at least 100 miles per hour. As a beginner, this won’t come easy. However, if you keep on practicing, you will soon reach your desired speed.

Practice Proper Putting

Practice Proper Putting

Your putting skills is another important element that will have an impact on becoming a scratch golfer. You should practice the right techniques for improving rhythm and minimizing strain. You will need to exert considerable power to achieve the necessary speed. Keep your eyes on the ball. See to it that your belt buckle is aligned to the head of the putter. Try to maintain the same tempo until the follow-through.

Invest in the Right Clubs

Invest in Right Clubs

While technique is crucial, it is equally important to have the right tools. By investing in the right scratch golf clubs, you are helping yourself become better in the game. There are no hard and fast rules about the right clubs to use. In most cases, it will differ from one player to another. The best thing to do is to try different clubs. By experimenting, it is easier to decide which ones will work best for your playing style. From the flex to the forgiveness, consider different things when evaluating golf clubs.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice Makes Perfect

This is perhaps the most important thing if you want to become a golfer with zero handicap or a scratch player. Things won’t happen overnight. It will take a while before you can see significant improvements in the way you play. It can be frustrating at times, but do not give up. Also, keep your expectations low. Achieving a single digit handicap is already difficult and being a scratch golfer is almost impossible.


In sum, a scratch golfer is one of the most important golf terms to know, especially in understanding the handicapping system. In a nutshell, it refers to a person with a zero handicap on any or all rated golf courses. It is a feat that is reserved to a few players. Sorry to burst your bubble, but most of you who are reading this short guide won’t qualify to becoming a scratch golfer.