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What If Match Ends In Less Than 18 Holes?

Posted: 8/20/2012

One of the basic premises of “The USGA Handicap System™” is that each player will try to make the best score at every hole in every round; the other is that each player will post every acceptable round for peer review. Even so, sometimes a match ends in less than 18 holes. The USGA Handicap System makes it possible for that score to be acceptable for handicap posting purposes, whether you keep playing or conclude when the match is completed.


If you continue to play after the match is over, you post the actual scores along with any provisions in “Section 4” of “The USGA Handicap System.”

However, if you do not continue to play when the match ends, you post “par plus any handicap stokes” you were entitled to receive on holes not played. For any conceded strokes see “Section 4-1 of The USGA Handicap System.” In order to have an acceptable score to post, you must play seven to 12 holes in accordance with the principles of the Rules of Golf for a nine-hole score (13 holes for an 18-hole score). 

Here is an example (See Decision 5-2a/7):

Q: When a match is over on the 15th hole, and the players continue playing to finish 18 holes, how should the last three holes be posted? Is it par plus or should the players post the scores they make on the last three holes? The obvious concern is players not trying their best after the match is over and posting high scores on the remaining holes.


A: The players should post the actual scores on the post-match holes in this scenario.  The player and the player's Handicap Committee have joint responsibility for adhering to the basic premises of the USGA Handicap System. If the Handicap Committee feels that the players are inflating the hole scores, or for any reason they feel necessary to do so, they may apply provisions of “Section 8” (found HERE on the USGA® website).

Remember, fair handicapping depends upon full and accurate information regarding a player’s potential scoring ability as reflected by a complete scoring record.  Every player must be responsible for returning all acceptable scores for handicap posting purposes.   


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