What is a Mid Handicap Golfer (And How Do You Stack Up?)

golfer driving ball in front of playing partners

Most golfers in the world are considered mid-handicappers. Nearly half of all golfers in the world fit into the mid-handicapper category. So what is a mid-handicap golfer?

To answer that, we’ll outline the handicap range mid handicappers fall under and what scores they’re expected to shoot. Also, we’ll give you an idea of the golf clubs and balls mid handicappers get the best results with.

What is a Mid Handicap Golfer?

A mid-handicap golfer plays to a handicap between 9 and 18. As you can see, this range is quite wide, and some mid-handicappers play better golf than others.

According to the USGA, a handicap of 14.2 is the average handicap of all amateur male golfers. So, the average handicap falls within the mid-handicap range.

You can see from the graph below that most players have a handicap between 9 and 18. About 45% of US golfers are considered mid-handicappers.

Source: USGA

Mid-Handicapper Scores

Playing on a par-72 golf course, mid handicappers are expected to score anywhere from 81 to 90. Not every golfer plays to their handicap on every round, of course, and your average score will be higher.

Check out the table below to see what score mid-handicappers of different handicaps are expected to shoot according to their handicap. You’ll be able to see how you stack up.

Table showing expected score on a par-72 course by handicap

HandicapScore
981
1082
1183
1284
1385
1486
1587
1688
1789
1890

You’re a mid-handicap golfer if you consistently shoot scores within that range. However, we mentioned earlier that there are different abilities within mid handicappers.

Levels of Mid Handicappers

We can separate mid handicappers into three levels: low, mid, and high.

Low

A mid-handicapper on the low end of the range has a handicap of 9-12. So, they’re expected to shoot in the low 80s to play to their handicap.

Sometimes these players will shoot much higher than the low 80s. However, they can shoot lower on a good day and get into the 70s.

These players are capable and know what they’re doing on the golf course. They’ve likely been playing the game for a while and have a good strategy for getting around the course.

Mid

Mid-range mid-handicappers play off handicaps ranging from 13 to 16. To play to their handicap, they’re expected to shoot in the mid-to-high 80s.

These players can break 80 but do so less often than low-range mid-handicappers. However, their average score always falls above 80, keeping them in that handicap range.

If you’re in this category, you’ll likely struggle with consistency. Maybe you play great for one round, but it’s like you’ve never played golf before when you play your next one.

High

If your handicap is 17 or 18, you’re a high-range mid-handicapper. You’re expected to shoot in the high 80s or low 90s.

However, your average score will be much higher. It’s likely that you’ll rarely break 90 if you play off these handicaps.

An average score for you would range from the low 90s up to 100. If you’re a high-range mid-handicapper, you probably struggle with striking the ball well throughout the bag.

But don’t worry if you’re a mid-handicapper because the right golf equipment can help your game.

What Golf Clubs and Balls Does a Mid-Handicapper Play With?

A mid-handicapper will do the best playing with game-improvement golf clubs. Let’s go through the bag and pick out features that’ll help mid-handicappers before looking at golf balls.

Driver

If you’re a mid-handicapper, you want a forgiving driver. You likely miss the sweet spot more often than you hit it, so a forgiving driver will benefit you.

A forgiving driver will keep you in play when you mishit your tee shot. The ball won’t go too wayward, and the distance won’t be affected too much.

If you’re not sure what driver to use, we’ve got you covered with the best drivers for mid handicappers.

Irons

Mid-handicappers often have issues striking their irons consistently. Therefore, you want to consider forgiveness when it comes to your irons.

A cavity-back iron with perimeter weighting is an excellent option. Avoid muscle backs at all costs because they won’t perform well for you, especially if you’re in the mid-to-high range for a mid-handicapper.

Check out our guide for the best irons for mid handicappers.

Wedges

Using the right wedges is crucial for mid-handicappers. If you choose the wrong ones, you can make the game much harder for yourself.

You should consider wedges with plenty of forgiveness. A cavity-back wedge is a good option for you.

You can read about the best wedges for mid handicappers in our guide.

Putters

It’s essential to find a putter you’re comfortable with. For mid handicappers, it can be a good idea to stay clear of blade putters and go for a mallet putter.

Mallet putters give you more balance and assistance to guide your stroke. They also offer more forgiveness.

The best mallet putters will give you a better idea if they suit you.

Balls

As a mid-handicapper, you likely don’t need to use premium golf balls. However, the choice is yours if you don’t mind the premium price tag.

Some premium golf balls might not perform the best for you because of the high spin characteristics. That can make a slice even worse, for instance.

We’ve got you covered with the best golf balls for mid handicappers.

How Do Mid-Handicappers Perform?

Mid-handicappers tend to struggle with consistency from one shot to the other. Let’s look at how mid-handicappers perform on the course.

Off the Tee

Sometimes it’s good with the driver, and sometimes it’s bad. It comes down to consistency off the tee.

Most mid handicappers won’t have a lot of distance off the tee. Therefore, they should focus on finding the fairways.

Hitting the sweet spot more often is the best way to do that. Slow your swing down when you practice until you consistently find the sweet spot, and then speed it up a little at a time. You can improve your accuracy without losing distance.

Greens in Regulation

Approach shots to the greens are hard for many mid handicappers. Often, short or wayward drives leave them with plenty of work to do to find the green.

The further you are from the green, the harder it is to hit. And if you’re in deep rough or the trees, you may forget about it.

That’s why getting accurate off the tee is so important.

Within 100 yards

Mid handicappers will find themselves with many shots within 100 yards during a round. If you improve here, you can start lowering your handicap.

Practice your wedge shots and putting. A good wedge shot followed by a one-putt can save you par. Do that enough, and you’ll start lowering your scores.

Strategy

You should start to think about strategy if you’re a mid-handicapper. Don’t let yourself go onto autopilot and just hit the ball without thinking.

Stand on the tee and take in the fairway, looking down your target line. Consider the width of the fairway and account for any danger spots – is a driver really the best option?

And strategy doesn’t only matter when it comes to tee shots. Get into the habit of thinking about every shot – does shooting straight for the pin bring a lot of danger into play? Maybe aim for the middle of the green.

Asking these questions before every shot can help you find the best strategy.

Conclusion

Now, you know the answer if someone asks you, what is a mid-handicap golfer? You’re a mid-handicap golfer if your handicap is between 9 and 18.

You should be scoring in the low 80s to the low 90s, depending on your handicap. Follow some of the tips in this article, and you’ll start lowering those scores.

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Joe Morelli

Joe Morelli is the founder of TopRankGolf, a passionate golfer with 25 years of experience playing and coaching golfers around the world. He's dedicated to helping golfers learn and enjoy the game of golf.