Handicapping FAQs

Section 3

Players Competing From a Different Course Rating™ or Tees

Q.  When players are competing from a different USGA Course Rating or tees, why do you make a Course Handicap™ adjustment? What if players are competing from more than two sets of tees? Can a Committee ignore this adjustment?

A.  A Course Handicap represents the number of strokes needed from a specific set of tees to play to the level of a scratch golfer; i.e., to the USGA Course Rating. The calculation of a Course Handicap only includes a player’s Handicap Index® and the Slope Rating® of the tees being played. When a USGA Course Rating difference exists among competitors, they are playing to different benchmarks, and an adjustment equal to the full difference in USGA Course Rating must be made in order for the competition to be equitable.

Players competing from two different tees:
Player A is competing from the Blue tees (71.0) and Player B is competing from the White tees (69.0). Since the USGA Course Rating difference is two strokes, Player A must add two to the Course Handicap calculated from the Blue tees. As an alternative, Player B may deduct two from the Course Handicap calculated from the White tees, as the overall effect would be the same (see Decision 3-5/1).

Players competing from more than two sets of tees:
Player A is competing from the Blue tees (71.0), Player B is competing from the White tees (69.0), and Player C is competing from the Gold tees (67.0). The recommendation is to add four strokes to Player A’s Course Handicap calculated from the Blue tees, add two strokes to Player B’s Course Handicap calculated from the White tees, and make no adjustment to Player C’s Course Handicap calculated from the Gold tees. Alternatively, Player C’s Course Handicap calculated from the Gold tees may be reduced by four strokes, Player B’s Course Handicap calculated from the White tees may be reduced by two strokes, and Player A’s Course Handicap calculated from the Blue tees would not be adjusted. A third option is to set the baseline at the middle and add two to the higher-rated tee player(s) and subtract two from the lower-rated tee player(s). The key is finding a baseline and adjusting from there.

Please note that a golf club may not ignore Section 3-5/9-3c when players are competing from a different USGA Course Rating as doing so would be waiving a Rule of Golf. The Committee in charge of a competition does not have the authority to waive a Rule of Golf (see Decision 3-5/2).

For a more detailed explanation of players competing from a different USGA Course Rating, please refer to our Section 3-5 brochure:


http://www.usga.org/playing/handicaps/understanding_handicap/section_3-5_brochure.pdf

Please visit Section 3-5 and 9-3c of The USGA Handicap System for further reference.