What Is Handicap In Bowling?

Are you curious to know what is handicap in bowling? You have come to the right place as I am going to tell you everything about handicap in bowling in a very simple explanation. Without further discussion let’s begin to know what is handicap in bowling?

Bowling is a popular and inclusive sport that brings people of all ages and skill levels together for friendly competition and camaraderie. To ensure a fair and competitive environment, especially when players of varying abilities participate, the concept of “handicap” is introduced. In this blog, we will explore what handicap means in bowling, how it is calculated, and why it is an essential element in creating an equitable and enjoyable bowling experience for everyone.

What Is Handicap In Bowling?

In bowling, a handicap is a numerical adjustment given to each player based on their skill level or past performance. The primary purpose of the handicap is to level the playing field, allowing bowlers of different abilities to compete on an equal footing. By factoring in each player’s average score, the handicap provides a way to offset any skill disparities and make the game more competitive and exciting for everyone involved.

Calculating Handicap

The process of calculating handicap varies slightly based on the bowling league or tournament rules. However, the fundamental idea remains the same: to account for differences in skill levels among players.

The most common method of calculating handicap is based on a percentage of the difference between a player’s average score and a predetermined “base score.” The base score is typically set at a fixed number, such as 200. The handicap percentage may vary, but it is often around 80-90%.

The Formula For Calculating Handicap Is As Follows:

Handicap = (Base Score – Bowler’s Average) × Handicap Percentage

For example, let’s say a bowler has an average score of 170, and the league’s base score is 200, with a handicap percentage of 90%. The handicap for that bowler would be:

Handicap = (200 – 170) × 0.9 = 30 × 0.9 = 27

Therefore, the bowler would receive a handicap of 27, which would be added to their score before determining the winner.

Benefits Of Handicap In Bowling

  1. Fair Competition: The primary benefit of handicap in bowling is that it promotes fair competition among players with differing skill levels. By adjusting scores based on individual averages, bowlers have an equal chance of winning, regardless of their expertise.
  2. Inclusivity: Handicap makes bowling more inclusive, encouraging individuals of all skill levels to participate and enjoy the game together. Beginners and less experienced bowlers can compete with seasoned players, fostering a sense of camaraderie and friendly competition.
  3. Skill Improvement: Handicap motivates bowlers to improve their skills continually. As players progress and raise their average scores, their handicap will adjust accordingly, challenging them to strive for better performances.
  4. Enhanced Social Experience: The handicap system fosters a sense of community within bowling leagues and tournaments. Players support and cheer for each other, and the handicap allows even novice bowlers to contribute to their team’s success.


Handicap in bowling is a vital element that enhances the sport’s appeal and inclusivity. By accounting for differences in skill levels and providing a fair playing field, handicap ensures that every bowler has an equal opportunity to compete and enjoy the game.

Bowling leagues and tournaments around the world embrace the handicap system as a means to promote friendly competition, skill development, and a supportive bowling community. So, the next time you step onto the lanes, remember that the handicap levels the playing field, making bowling an accessible and rewarding experience for everyone involved.

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Can You Have A Negative Handicap In Bowling?

To me, having negative handicap is more about punishing the better bowlers instead of evening the playing field. I’ve bowled in a league with a negative handicap, in fact, my team had one.

What Is A Scratch In Bowling?

SCRATCH. The actual score the bowler makes; it is without any handicap adjustment (to equalize competition).

What Does F In Bowling Mean?

Foul- a foul is when you step past the foul line during a turn and is marked using the letter “F”. You can still finish out your turn and bowl your second shot if you foul during your first roll.

How Do You Determine A Handicap?

How to calculate your golf handicap: First step, grab a calculator. Then do this.

  • You can find your golf handicap by taking the average score of the best eight of your last 20 scores.
  • Use this equation to calculate your handicap for any course: Course Handicap = [Handicap Index * (SR / 113)] + (CR- Par)

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