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. 





Browse the 2012-2015 Rules


6-1/1. Procedure for Player who Discontinues Play for Lengthy Period and Then Resumes Play

Q: A player with an established Handicap Index discontinues play for a lengthy period, and then resumes play. Should the player use the last Handicap Index on resumption of play or establish a new Handicap Index?

A:  The player does not have a Handicap Index until the next scheduled handicap revision. The player's club Handicap Committee may issue a Handicap Index (M) sooner if at least five scores exist in the scoring record.

If the scoring record of the player is unavailable when resuming play, the player has no Handicap Index until five scores have been posted and a handicap revision passes. 

6-2/1. Establishing an Active and an Inactive Season in the Same Area

Q: In the southern part of a state, golf is a 12-month sport, but this is not true in the northern part of the state. What may the authorized golf association do with respect to establishing an inactive season?

A: The golf association may declare an inactive season for the northern part of the state, but not for the southern part.

6-3/1. Display of Scoring Records for Peer Review Purposes

Q:  A player with a Handicap Index has general scoring records readily available on the golf club's Web site and on the Web site of the club's handicap computation service for those involved in peer review. Complete scoring records are available on these sites to fellow club members, the club Handicap Committee, and competition officials of any competition in which the player is going to participate. Is this a violation of the player's right of privacy?

A: No. An essential part of the USGA Handicap System, which includes a Handicap Index, is peer review, and scoring records which includes a Handicap Index list are available for inspection by others, including, but not limited to, fellow members and the club's Handicap Committee. Once a golfer decides to obtain a Handicap Index, the golfer consents to the practice and procedures of the Handicap System, which includes permitting access to this information, and there can be no expectation of privacy with respect to information as to which others will have access. (REVISED) 

6-3/2. Posted Scores Being Readily Available/Scoring Records in a Prominent Location

Q: In Section 5-2, posted scores are to be "readily available." Section 6-3 requires that a list of scoring records (including a Handicap Index list) must be in a "prominent location." What satisfies these requirements? 

A: "Readily available" means easy access to this information. If the sole place where posted scores, scoring records, and a Handicap Index list are kept is in a home, behind a golf shop counter, or in some other area where others cannot access this information easily, these requirements are not being satisfied. If all members of a golf club have Internet access, maintaining a club Web site via the Internet with a distinctive Web site address that displays posted scores, scoring records, and a Handicap Index list will meet these requirements. Using a member's identification number as the sole means of accessing that member's information is not considered making records readily available; some additional means, such as a name search feature, must be offered. 

6-3/3. Display of Member Club Peer Review Information

Q: Is it acceptable for a club or an authorized golf association to provide access to a player's complete scoring record to a club Handicap Chairperson and Committee in charge of a competition?


A: Yes. A club or an association is encouraged to provide the complete scoring record information to these parties in that this is the essence of Peer Review.

6-3/4. Request From Competition Officials for Scoring Record

Q: A golf club's Handicap Committee or a Committee in charge of a competition in which a golfer is entered asks another club for the scoring record of one of its members. Is it a violation of the USGA Handicap Policy to refuse such a request? 

A: Refusal to honor such a request is not a violation of the USGA Handicap System, but the USGA encourages clubs to routinely honor such requests so that peer review can take place on a wide-scale basis. A Committee in charge of a competition would be entitled to reject a golfer's application to play in the competition if a request for such information were denied.

6-5/1. Maintaining Handicap Index at Only One Club if Belonging to More Than One Club

Q: A player is a member of three golf clubs in a close geographical area. The handicap service does not provide multi-member score routing services and, because of the location of the clubs, it is very inconvenient for the player to post all scores at all three clubs under Section 6-5. Can an exception be made to accommodate this player?

A: Yes. Since the player is a member of more than one club in the same area, a network handicap service is not available to the player, and it is very inconvenient for the player to post all scores at all clubs, the player can designate one club to issue a Handicap Index. The additional conditions are as follows:

The designated club normally should be the club at which the player plays the most golf; 

The player's other clubs in the area must agree to delete the player from their handicap records and cease issuing a Handicap Index to that player;

All scores regardless of where they are played must either be posted at or routed through the player's designated club.

6-5/2. [Reserved]

6-5/3. Procedure when Multi-Club Member's Handicap Index is Modified

Q: A player is a member of multiple golf clubs. One of the clubs has modified the player's Handicap Index under Section 8. What obligation does the club have to notify the other club(s)?

A: The USGA recommends that the club notify all additional clubs where the player receives a Handicap Index. The modified Handicap Index should become the player's Handicap Index at all clubs.

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