What is a Scratch Golfer? – How to Become One?

Normally, a golfer with a positive golf handicap index is regarded as a scratch golfer. However, this isn’t the whole criteria for you to become one.

What exactly is a scratch golfer, then? Let’s find out through this conclusive guide!  

What’s a Scratch Golfer? 

When a golfer is referred to as a scratch golfer, you can be sure he’s a skilled player! 

As a scratch golfer, you must have a golf handicap of zero or more than that. 

This means you have plus(+) signs before your handicap indexes.

In addition to this, scratch golfers are steady with their on-course skills and have an advantage of an excellent short game. 

Speaking of how good is a scratch golfer, here’s some insight from Quora forum ;

A “scratch” or “zero handicap” golfer is a person who consistently shoots par or below par on a round of golf on a course of easy or moderate difficulty. 

Steven Haddock

They are better than most golfers on the planet. They are normally quite accomplished players with few flaws in their game. But that does come with a caveat…

Tony Twillie

What’s a Scratch Golfer According to the USGA?

Besides the commonly used connotation for a scratch golfer, the USGA Handicap Rating System has more precise definitions; 

  • A “scratch golfer” is a player who can play to a course handicap of zero on any and all rated golf courses. 
  • A male scratch golfer, for rating purposes, can hit tee shots an average of 250 yards and can reach a 470-yard hole in two shots at sea level. 
  • A female scratch golfer, for rating purposes, can hit tee shots an average of 210 yards and can reach a 400-yard hole in two shots at sea level.

As you’ve noticed the term “for rating purposes” in the above definitions, you must be wondering what it means. 

It’s a rating given to your golf course by USGA, based on the course examination as per scratch golfer standards. 

Are Scratch Golfers Different From the Pros?

Although scratch golfers are better than amateur golfers, they’re not even close to

professional golfers. 

To be a pro, you’ve to train for the most competitive environment possible. 

Normally, a male professional golfer has a handicap index of 4.4, whereas a female pro has 6.4 or better.

This means that a scratch golfer has to improve his handicap index by +4 to land among the professionals. 

In addition to this, there are some other differences between pros and scratch golfers;

Scratch GolfersProfessional Golfers
Greens in Regulation66%70%
Fairway Hit50-54%65% +
Gets Up & Down50% of the time66% of the time

How Common Scratch Golfers Are?

Being a scratch golfer, as per the USGA definition, isn’t child’s play. This makes one thing clear; scratch golfers are rare!

According to the USGA Handicap Index criteria, the following are statistics of scratch golfers around the U.S;

  • There are less than 35000 men with golf handicaps of 0.0 or more
  • The count of female golfers having a golf handicap of 0.0 or more is around 3000

Based on these numbers, there are only 1.85% male and 0.69% female golfers in the U.S.   

How To Become A Scratch Golfer? 

Let’s be honest; becoming a scratch golfer isn’t easy. However, it’s humanly possible! 

This means that you can reach that level, but only if you’re John Wick!… A man of focus, commitment, and sheer will!   

Jokes aside, here are some tips and tricks to help you become a scratch golfer;

1. Get a Proper Fitting 

At the beginning of your journey toward becoming a scratch golfer, make sure to get yourself fitted for the correct equipment.

You must know which golf club suits you best depending on your golf swing type.    

That’s why it’s advised to visit a professional fitter, analyze your golf swing and get yourself a proper fitting.

Additionally, fitters also check for other parameters of your game to make necessary adjustments to your equipment.

Plus, you also get the golf balls that are best suited to your club. 

2. Practice More Often

A scratch golfer has to navigate through all 18 holes with clarity and consistency. 

This is only possible when it’s like routine work for you.

By developing a practice routine, you’ll prepare your body and mind to remain in an optimal state while you’re on the course. 

The first thing is to improve your stamina so you don’t get exhausted while walking and swinging your club.

Secondly, work on your mental strength for better focus.   

3. Improve Your Golfing Skills

Improving your golfing skills is a fundamental part of becoming a scratch golfer.

You’ve to focus on mainly three things.

Firstly, you must learn how to scramble to escape tricky situations on the course. 

Secondly, you must know how to shape your shots to play in various course scenarios. 

This means you should be able to play all kinds of shots like straight, draw and fade.   

The third thing is to improve your course management which includes planning your shots even before playing them.  

4. Improve Your Short-Game

No matter how good you’re at hitting distances, once you come closer to the hole, it all depends on your short game. 

That’s why executing proper chip shots and mastering your putting is important for becoming a scratch golfer.

You can practice a good short game by participating in short game sessions or playing miniature golf.

5. Take Golf Lessons 

Besides practicing on the course, you need something off the course! 

Taking golf lessons is a great way to direct yourself toward your goal. 

However, I suggest you be more precise in picking golf lessons so you don’t go astray.

Here’s one from Good Good Extra YouTube channel;

A valuable lesson! 

Another fruitful piece of advice is to get a coach as soon as possible.   

Frequently Asked Questions

How’s a scratch golfer different from a bogey golfer?

Scratch golfers have a course handicap of 0.0, while bogey golfers have a of 20 for males and 24 for females. 

Why are scratch golfers so rare?

For a golfer to land among scratch golfers, his course handicap should be zero and only 2% of people have that, according to USGA.

Are scratch golfers better than pros?

Although scratch golfers are better than most regular golfers, they don’t even come close to the pros. 

Final Thoughts: What is Scratch Golfer?

Now that you’ve read this article, you’ve got access to all the necessary information regarding “what is a scratch golfer?”

I’ve also included some useful tips that can be helpful in your pursuit of becoming one. 

If you ever think you can’t do it, just remember what I said earlier; becoming a scratch golfer may be difficult, but it’s humanly possible!  

Who knows, you might be the next! 

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