Handicapping FAQs

Section 12

Which Tees to Play?

Q.

  Does the USGA® have a recommendation on which set of tees to play?

A.

  We do not recommend any particular set of tees based on factors such as age or gender. A player may use the bogey rating or Course Rating™ (which you can find on the USGA Course Rating and Slope Database™) to help choose a tee that will best match the player’s ability, and perhaps enjoy the round a little more.

A Handicap Index® is a portable number that can be converted to a Course Handicap™ from any set of tees rated for a player’s gender so the game will be equitable no matter what tees are played. In fact, based on Section 5-2g of the USGA Handicap System manual, a temporary Course Rating™ and Slope Rating® can be derived from a set of unrated tees. Therefore, we do not have rules or policies that require you to play from a certain set of tees based on your age, ability, Handicap Index, etc.

For competition purposes, a Tournament Committee may specify in the terms of the competition that players must compete from a specific set of tees. Section 5A of the Committee Procedures found in the Official Guide to the Rules of Golf states that the Committee shall set the terms for each competition. Among these terms, as covered in Section 5A(3), is which teeing areas are to be used. The Committee may also decide to set different teeing areas for different competitors. For example, at ABC Golf Club’s annual member-guest, the Committee may state in the conditions of the event that all players with a Handicap Index of 10.4 or less must compete from the back tees. Otherwise, the decision on what set of tees to use is up to the individual player.

Please visit Section 12 of the USGA Handicap System manual for further reference.