The USGA Handicap System™ enables golfers of all skill levels to compete on an equitable basis. This section of the site will help golfers understand why having a Handicap Index® is important. There are links to "The USGA Handicap System" manual, the USGA's handicapping equivalent of "The Rules of Golf", and a Course Handicap™ calculator to allow players to convert their Handicap Index to the Course Handicap for any course that has been properly rated. Articles and resources are available for anyone interested in starting a golf club or for current Handicap Committee chairmen who need assistance in maintaining handicaps for their respective clubs. The current version of the USGA Handicap System went into effect on Jan. 1, 2012, and the next revision will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016. Any modifications to the System are noted on this Web site. 





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Appendix D Sample letter explaining Section 3-5 and 9-3c

(Club Stationary)



This letter is in regard to your recent question regarding what procedure to follow when players are competing against each other and are playing from different USGA Course Rating™.

The USGA Handicap SystemTM is set up so each player converts a Handicap Index to a Course HandicapTM and plays with the Course Handicap as calculated. However, if players are competing against each other and a difference in USGA Course RatingTM exists, an additional adjustment must be made to the Course Handicap of the player playing from the higher-rated set of tees.

When a difference in USGA Course Rating exists among competitors, their benchmark has changed and the difference must be accounted for in order for the competition to be equitable. (See example(s) under Section 3-5 in "The USGA Handicap System.")

There are two options when applying this adjustment. The rounded difference in Course Rating can be either added to the higher-rated tee players or subtracted from the lower rated tee players. (See Decision 3-5/1 for further reference.)

Please keep in mind that this adjustment is only applied when players are competing against each other. A Handicap Index is a number based on a standard calculation and not specific to any set of tees. A Course Handicap only gives a player the number of strokes needed to play down to the USGA Course Rating for a particular set of tees.

It is important to remember that a Handicap Index is just a mathematical representation of potential ability, and we need to make a conversion to the set of tees we play, and then an additional adjustment if we are competing against a player who is playing from a different set of tees, so that an equitable competition can be played.

Also, not applying Section 3-5 of "The USGA Handicap System" when players are competing from different tees would be waiving a Rule of Golf, and the Committee in charge of a competition does not have the authority to waive a Rule of Golf (see Decision 3-5/2).

For more information, please refer to the brochure on players competing from different USGA Course Rating and the USGA position paper on this topic located on the USGA's Web site at: www.usga.org.


The Handicap Committee

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