Licensing Program for Clubs FAQs



Q: What is expected of clubs licensed as of January 1, 2008?

A: Any club licensed through the USGA must continue to follow all aspects of the USGA Handicap System™ and must complete the seminar quiz requirement sometime during the current cycle (1/1/08 - 12/31/11).
Any club licensed through a golf association should contact the association for specific information. The golf association must receive written confirmation from each of its member clubs stating that the club is following the USGA Handicap System™. It is up to each golf association to determine how to implement this confirmation process. The USGA must be allowed to access these confirmations upon request. Once a club has confirmed that it complies with the Handicap System requirements, the golf association should send a listing of its authorized clubs to the USGA, so that the club names will be placed on the USGA Web site as authorized golf clubs.

Q: Our club utilizes our own handicap software, and is currently licensed through the USGA. We would like to join our authorized (local) golf association and utilize its handicap computation service. Is our license impacted in any way and do we have to file a new application directly with the association?

A: The license remains valid. If a club that is currently licensed by the USGA elects to receive its handicap computation assistance as a member club of an authorized golf association having geographic jurisdiction in the area, there is no need to file a new application. The club should encourage the association to alert the USGA of the change and the records will be updated to reflect the new affiliation. This would also apply if a club that is licensed through an association elects to use its own software or a different computation service.

Q: Why did the USGA create the Club Licensing Program?

A: The purpose of the Club Licensing Program is to ensure that all golf clubs in the United States comply with the USGA Handicap System™. Each golf club must meet the requirements of the Club Compliance Checklist before any are authorized to issue a USGA Handicap Index®. If a club is not complying with some aspect of the USGA Handicap System, then it will not be authorized to issue a USGA Handicap Index to its members.

Q: Who is eligible to participate in the Club Licensing Program?

A: The Club Licensing Program is something that is required for all clubs in the United States that wish to issue a USGA Handicap Index to its members. If a club is a member of the authorized golf association in its area, then it must sign an agreement with the authorized golf association. Any golf club wishing to issue a USGA Handicap Index to its members must be approved through the USGA Club Licensing Program.

Q: What is the definition of a Golf Club?

A: A golf club is an organization of at least ten individual members that operates under bylaws with committees (including a Handicap Committee) to supervise golf activities, provide peer review, and maintain the integrity of the USGA Handicap System (see Compliance Checklist, Section 8-2m). A golf club must be licensed by the USGA to issue a Handicap Index to its members. A club can obtain a license agreement directly from the USGA or through its membership in an authorized golf association that is already licensed by the USGA and that has jurisdiction in the geographic area that includes the principal location of the golf club.

Members of a golf club must have a reasonable and regular opportunity to play golf with each other. They must be able to return scores personally. These scores must be readily available for inspection by others, including, but not limited to, fellow members and the club?s Handicap Committee.

Each golf club must determine its type. A golf club fits into one of the following three (3) types:

  1. It is located at a single specific golf course with a valid USGA Course and Slope Rating where a majority of the club?s events are played and where the club?s scoring records reside; or
  2. Its members are affiliated or known to one another via a business, fraternal, ethnic or social organization. The majority of the club members had an affiliation prior to organizing the club; or
  3. The members had no prior affiliation and a majority of the recruiting and sign-up of the membership is done by solicitation to the general public (e.g., Internet, newspaper).

Q: One of the requirements is that members of a golf club must have a reasonable and regular opportunity to play golf with each other. What does this mean?

A: According to Decision 2/7, the playing requirement for members of Type 3 clubs will be met if each member returns at least three scores played with other club members during the season and at least one of those rounds must be played in a club sponsored event. Anyone not meeting this minimum requirement should be dropped from the Type 3 club handicap roster.

Q: Our type #2 club has elected to do our own calculations instead of going through our state or regional golf association. Does the USGA have any recommendations for handicap computation services or software?

A: The USGA does not check, endorse, or approve any software products or computation services. However, a regional golf association should be able to help you or give you some suggestions along this line.  Please refer to our Web site to find a listing of regional golf associations: http://www.usga.org/associations/index.html.

Q: What is the Golf Association?s role in the Club Licensing Program?

A: The authorized golf association that has jurisdiction in an area is responsible for monitoring whether any club wishing to become licensed is in compliance with USGA Handicap System requirements. Specifically, the association needs to verify that the golf club follows the correct handicap revision schedule, active/inactive season dates (if applicable) and other items in the Club Compliance Checklist. If the club complies, then the authorized golf association must sign the application before it is sent to the USGA Handicap Department for approval. If the association is concerned that the club in question does not comply, then the association should forward the application to the USGA with acknowledgement of the concern, but should also provide the golf club with information as to why it is believed to have a compliance issue.

Q: What is expected of current member clubs of an authorized golf association in regard to the Club Licensing Program?

A: The golf association must receive written confirmation from each of its member clubs stating that the club is following the USGA Handicap System. It is up to each golf association to determine how to implement this confirmation process. The USGA must be allowed to access these confirmations upon request. Once a club has confirmed that it complies with the Handicap System requirements, the golf association should send a listing of its authorized clubs to the USGA, so that the club names will be placed on the USGA Web site as authorized golf clubs.

Q: We have formed our own club and have elected to not have our state/regional golf association assist us in issuing a Handicap Index to each of our members. Can we register our club directly with the USGA?

A: Yes, the club must become licensed independently and directly through the USGA. Contact the USGA Handicap Department to obtain a club license application or contact the authorized golf association in your area to obtain the club license application.

Q: We are the same club as the question above. The authorized golf association in the area is telling us that we cannot become licensed without its approval. Is this true?

A: In the license application process, an authorized golf association is required to sign the license application acknowledging that it believes the club is following all USGA Handicap System policies. There are two areas that an authorized golf association governs, the revision schedule and the active and inactive season. If the authorized association can confirm these two requirements are being satisfied, then all other items are subject to final approval by the USGA. The USGA makes the final decision as to whether a club is licensed to utilize the USGA Handicap System.

Q: If the golf association believes that a golf club does not comply with the USGA Handicap System what action should the golf association take?

A: The golf association should provide the reason(s) to the golf club. The USGA requests that all questionable golf clubs and their particular circumstances be reported to the USGA Handicap department for review and a final determination.

Q: Our club just received notice that we are being audited by the USGA. Why was our club selected to be audited?

A: The USGA randomly selects licensed golf clubs to complete the audit program each year, and to provide evidence that they are using the USGA?s formulas and service marks correctly in connection with the USGA Handicap System. All licensed golf clubs are subject to being audited by the USGA, regardless of whether there is a compliance item in question or not. However, any licensed golf club that is reported in writing to the USGA as having a potential compliance issue is immediately subject to being audited by the USGA.

Q. Our license has been removed. How can we be reinstated as a club authorized to issue a USGA Handicap Index?

A: A golf club that has lost the privilege to issue a USGA Handicap Index to its members will have to apply for reinstatement of that privilege and resubmit an application for a license agreement. Upon receipt of the completed application, the USGA will provide a list of requirements that need to be satisfied in order for the application to be considered. Upon the golf club satisfying the USGA that these requirements have been met, the USGA will notify the golf club and all parties that were previously notified of the club?s non-compliance that the club is again eligible to utilize the USGA Handicap System. However, the reinstated golf club is subject to the audit process during each of the next two years.

Q: When does the Club Licensing Program begin and how long will the program last?

A: The Club Licensing Program began on January 1, 2005. Throughout 2005, golf clubs wishing to become authorized to issue a USGA Handicap Index to its members must complete the application process and receive notification that the USGA has authorized the golf club to utilize the USGA Handicap System. An updated listing of authorized golf clubs will be placed on the USGA Web site. Starting January, 2006, any golf club that has not been licensed through either the authorized golf association or the USGA will not be listed on the USGA Web site and will not be authorized to issue a USGA Handicap Index to its members. Any club that is authorized will remain so until December 31, 2007, unless it is determined that a club no longer complies with the USGA Handicap System.

Q: We have sent in our signed application to the USGA Handicap Department. How will we know if it has been approved and how long will it be until we have a response?

A: Once the USGA Handicap Department has received your application, your club will be notified within 30 to 60 days by mail of its status. If the club does not meet all of the specified requirements, the club?s Handicap Chairman will receive notification informing the club of the reason(s) for its rejection and recommendations for how the club can cure its deficiencies.

Q: Where can interested golf clubs obtain an application for the Club Licensing Program?

A: The USGA Handicap Department will distribute club license applications to each of the authorized golf associations. The USGA will also have the club license application available in our office by calling: (908) 234-2300 or any interested club can print the club license application from the USGA Web site at www.usga.org.

Q. How does an individual know if a club is authorized by the USGA?

A: Beginning in the first quarter of 2005, the USGA Web site started displaying a list of clubs that have been authorized to utilize the USGA Handicap System.

Q: When did the Club Licensing Program begin and how long will the program last?

A: The Club Licensing Program began on January 1, 2005. Golf clubs wishing to become authorized to issue a USGA Handicap Index to its members must complete the application process and receive notification that the USGA has authorized the golf club to utilize the USGA Handicap System. An updated listing of authorized golf clubs will be placed on the USGA Web site. Starting July, 2006, any golf club that has not been licensed through either the authorized golf association or the USGA will not be listed on the USGA Web site and will not be authorized to issue a USGA Handicap Index to its members. Any club that is authorized will remain so until December 31, 2011, provided a representative of the club completes the seminar/quiz requirement during the 2008-2011 cycle, unless it is determined that a club no longer complies with the USGA Handicap System.