Bowling Handicap (What It Is And How To Calculate It)

Just because you’re not a skilled bowler, thanks to a bowling handicap, you can still compete in a league with more skilled players.

If you’re intrigued to learn more about bowling handicaps, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we will explore all things bowling handicap, including what it is and how to calculate it.

Let’s get started. 

Many bowlers, especially players who are new to the game, find the system of calculating bowling handicaps confusing or simply don’t understand it.

The majority of amateur bowling leagues utilize a bowling handicap rule. So, if you’re unaware or don’t understand the handicap rule, it’s important information to familiarize yourself with.

As a result, determining your bowling handicap will allow you to compete against a huge range of bowlers with varying abilities whilst providing you with an equal chance of winning.

Bowling Handicap – What is It?

A bowling handicap is a rule that provides bowlers of all skill levels league competition as well as tournament opportunities.

In general, bowling handicaps are designed to level the playing field, by adjusting your score based on your average. 

The point of bowling handicap is simple. It allows lower-level bowlers to be competitive against much better bowlers in a league.

Let’s just imagine two teams are competing in a league. Bowlers in the first team average scores of 290 and bowlers in the second team normally average 160.

In this circumstance, you can see how the second team wouldn’t be able to compete without the handicap rule.

It’s fair to assume that two teams who are of different skill levels won’t play a fair and competitive game. 

The handicap rule throws all of this out of the window. Bearing this in mind, bringing in a handicap makes the second team more competitive, making the game more exciting for each and every player.

While some people find the handicap rule controversial, you can see why players of all skill levels would want to play with a handicap rule in place as it means no matter your skill level, you’re able to compete!

How Does Handicap Bowling Work?

The premise of handicap bowling is very simple once you know how it works.

Put simply, handicap bowling involves giving players a handicap score that is determined by subtracting their average score from the league’s basis score, before multiplying it by the handicap percentage.

Following this, the handicap score is then added to the bowler’s average score, which is considered their total score. 

The process of adding the handicap allows all players, even beginners, to achieve a better score and therefore gives them a better chance of winning.

The point of handicap bowling is to make bowling more competitive and enjoyable for all players that are competing. 

How Do You Calculate Bowling Handicap?

To get started, you will need to contact your league and they will be able to tell you what the basis score and percentage factor is, as your calculations depend on it. 

The basis score tends to be a high score that is taken from the average of the best player in the league or the bowling alley. Typically, basis scores range from about 200 to 210, or 220.

The percentage factor is used to calculate your handicap and is typically 80, 90, or 100 percent, but may change depending on the competition in question.

Once you’ve got the basis score and the percentage factor, you can work out your bowling average.

Bowling Handicap (What It Is And How To Calculate It)

To determine your bowling average, you will need to add the scores from your league games, then divide this number by the number of games that you bowled.

To calculate your bowling handicap, you will need to subtract what you got for your average score from the basis score and then multiply this number by the percentage factor.

For instance, let’s imagine that the basis score was 200 with the percentage factor being 90 percent.

If you have an average of 150, then how you figure out your handicap is (200-150) X 0.90 = 65. This gives you a handicap of 65.

Once you have determined the handicap, you will need to add it to your actual score for each game.

For instance, if you score 170 in a game and your handicap is 47, your adjusted score would therefore be 217.

The Benefits Of Bowling Handicap

So, now you have a better understanding of bowling handicaps, you might be wondering what are some of the benefits.

The benefits of bowling handicap include but are not limited to:

Handicap Bowling Evens The Playing Field

One of the biggest advantages of playing handicap bowling is that it evens the playing field. As a result, this makes bowling more accessible. 

Despite the fact that many competitive bowlers find the handicap rule controversial, it means that more people can compete in a league in spite of their skill level.

This makes it a fairer game overall, allowing teams to compete with each other without one of them having an advantage over the other.

Handicap Bowling Gives Beginners A Chance To Hone Their Skills

Another big benefit of handicap bowling is that it allows beginners a chance to hone their skills against competitors whose skill levels would normally be in an entirely different league to them.

Under normal circumstances, beginners would have almost no chance of beating bowling professionals or even intermediates. 

As a result, there would be fewer circumstances where newbies could actually play with bowling professionals.

Thanks to the handicap rule, beginners have an increased chance of winning, making bowling a more rewarding experience for them.

Handicap Bowling Makes The Game More Competitive

When there are two teams, and there’s already a clear winner, the element of competition can be diminished and people can quickly become bored.

Players and teams that have typically lower averages can compete against higher-scoring players and have an investment in the competition, opening the league up to make a fun environment. 

Adding a handicap can make players feel like they’re on tenterhooks, increasing the stakes whilst also encouraging players to be more competitive as everyone has as much of a chance of winning as the other team.

Anything and everything can happen in handicap bowling, that’s what makes it so exciting to play!

Why Is Handicap Bowling Considered Controversial?

Handicap bowling is a hot topic of debate for many people. So, why is handicap bowling considered controversial?

It all comes down to the fact that the handicap rule levels the playing field.

Whilst this is great for bowlers who are just beginning their journey or bowlers that tend to have a lower average, this is less ideal for bowlers who have a higher average.

Despite the fact that handicap tournaments allow less skilled players to improve their technique and game exponentially, many people argue this isn’t the same for more skilled players.

Bowling Handicap (What It Is And How To Calculate It)

Some people even consider it a punishment, arguing it shouldn’t be allowed when people work as hard as they do to win tournaments.

However, another element of the debate is that if you’re not happy with the handicap rule, then simply opt to compete in another tournament that doesn’t use the handicap rule.

While this seems like a logical solution to the problem, it depends on the tournaments and leagues that are going on near you. It’s not always this simple.

Despite the controversy, the handicap rule is there for a reason. If you’re someone that finds it infuriating as a bowler for reasons of your own, then no one is making you compete in a handicapped league.

If a handicapped league is your only choice, then I recommend trying to look at the situation objectively. It might be frustrating, but it ultimately makes the game fairer for the majority. 

Try to take what you can from each tournament, and be sure to enter into a league that isn’t handicapped next time. 

Remember, bowling is meant to be fun! If you’re not getting enjoyment out of it due to the handicapped rule, then it’s best you wait for one that doesn’t use it.

It’s important to prioritize yourself. If you think that it’s a punishment for your skill level, then you should assess whether you’re getting enough fulfillment out of the tournaments.

If the answer is no, then you should definitely look elsewhere to get your competing fix!

An Important Note On Bowling Handicap 

If you’re interested in getting involved with bowling tournaments, bowling handicap is a great way to get started. 

The object of a handicap league is to enjoy yourself, meet new people, and have some fun with your teammates and with other people that are competing in the league. 

Handicap bowling competitions and leagues typically create a fun atmosphere, and a level of friendly competition emerges as each and every player counts. 

Bowling in handicap tournaments can be rewarding for everyone involved, not just the professionals. 

So, if you’re interested in getting involved, why not contact your local bowling league today and give it a try?

In Summary 

So, there you have the handicap rule in bowling.

Even if you’re not as skilled as a bowler compared to other people in the league, bowling handicaps can level the playing field.

Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of the bowling handicap.

If you’re interested in getting involved, why not research your area to find out where a handicap league is taking place?

Regardless of your skill level, bowling handicaps can be fun and bring you lots of fulfillment if you have the right mindset.

Have fun bowling handicaps!

Drew Kaufner