Scratch Golfer Explained: What it Means and How to Become One

14-year old Tiger Woods
Young Tiger Woods became a scratch golfer at the age of 13

A scratch golfer is a golfer that has a handicap index of 0.0. Scratch players have the ability to consistently score within a small margin of the course rating, on any given day. For men, these golfers tend to be able to hit an average drive of 250 yards and can reach a 470-yard hole in 2 strokes. In women, scratch players can hit a drive of 210 yards and are able to reach a 400-yard hole in 2 strokes.

It takes hard work, dedication, and a ton of practice to reach this level of play. Scratch golfers get no strokes from the course, in most situations, and may have to give the course strokes in some situations. Here are some of the most important things to know about scratch golfers

How To Become a Scratch Golfer

In my experience as a caddie, I’ve come across many scratch golfers. They each have different strengths and weaknesses but have certain qualities in common. The first is having good work ethics. It takes a tremendous amount of practice and dedication to get to the level where you are scoring close to even par on a consistent basis. This means you need to be disciplined enough to have a good practice schedule. Just be sure to practice the right fundamentals. If you’re practicing bad habits, you can do serious damage to your golf swing and, consequently, your golf game. 
The second quality I see often in scratch golfers is a good competitive spirit. I don’t mean that they want to win at the game so badly that they’re willing to cheat. The competitive spirit is the spirit that drives them to play better. If they see their playing partner play well, that will likely drive them to play better in hopes of being on par with the other player. 
The other quality I see often is the deep respect for the game of golf. Scratch golfers are fully aware of the difficulty of playing golf and are willing to offer advice to those looking to increase their level of play. If you are willing to put in the work, are competitive and respect the game, then you may have what it takes to be, or come close to, a scratch golfer.

How Many Golfers Are Scratch?

It’s by no means an easy road to playing at the scratch level. It can take many years to achieve. The truth is only a tiny percentage of golfers will ever actually reach the level of scratch. According to USGA’s handicap index statistics, only 1.60% of all golfers have a handicap index of 0.0 or better. This means that if you have a group of 1,00 golfers only about 1, maybe 2, of them may play at the level of scratch. Aiming to be a scratch golfer is not only ambitious, but is highly unlikely. This shouldn’t deter you from striving for that level of play. Afterall, one of the qualities of a scratch golfer, as we touched on before, is competitiveness. Good competitors are not afraid of the odds. They face them head on and work hard to overcome them.

How Scratch Golfers Help Shape the Game of Golf

Scratch golfers play an essential role in the course rating. The course rating is a measurement used to indicate how difficult a golf course should be. The reason this plays an important role in the shape of the game, is because the course rating is the basis of calculating course handicap. Since course handicap is used to determine how many strokes a golfer may get in a round, the scratch player can be considered at the core of that equation. Course rating should be updated every 10 years so scratch players are essential in accurstrly measuring the difficulty of golf courses.


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