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A USGA Handicap Index Required

Posted: 8/24/2011

The USGA introduced a policy in 2007 stating that all players who wish to enter a USGA championship must meet the USGA Handicap eligibility requirements as listed on individual USGA championship entry forms. One of these eligibility requirements states that the entrant must ensure the following:

The USGA introduced a policy in 2007 stating that all players who wish to enter a USGA championship must meet the USGA Handicap eligibility requirements as listed on individual USGA championship entry forms. One of these eligibility requirements states that the entrant must ensure the following: 

"A USGA Handicap Index® must be issued from a "golf club" (as defined in the USGA Handicap System™ manual) which is licensed to use the USGA Handicap System." (International players should complete the entry form as directed on the application.) 

Why was this policy adopted? In short, the only way to have a Handicap Index is to be a member of a licensed golf club. Further, Section 9-1 of “The USGA Handicap System” manual states: 

9-1. Handicap Required for Competition 

The USGA recommends that a player have a Handicap Index in order to enter competitions conducted by a golf association, golf club, and any other organization. (See Decisions 9-1/1, 9-1/2.) 

Therefore, any person with a calculation provided by any entity which is not licensed does not have a Handicap Index and is not eligible to enter a USGA championship.  

Beginning in 2011, entries for all United States Golf Association championships were only available online. Prior to 2011, any entrant filing a paper entry was required to have someone from the club verify their handicap information. Now, the entrant is able to find their specific golf club from a drop-down box of licensed golf clubs rather than having to personally visit the golf club for a signature. The USGA then has access to the club information should any issues arise. Without the affiliation with a licensed golf club, verification of a scoring record is next to impossible and some players might enter a championship who may not be qualified.  

Additionally, the USGA encourages all tournament committees, ranging from state and regional associations to the club level, to strongly consider adopting this procedure for all competitions. This will enable the committee to have access to the golf club for verification of the scoring record. Without the ability to verify an Index, the next member-guest competition at your club may be affected by that guest who happens to shoot the “once-in-a-lifetime” round resulting in a net score of 60. 


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