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Shortening the Round

Posted: 5/29/2013

What happens when rain makes it impossible to play 18 holes?

Most rounds of golf are played over 18 holes, occasionally a nine-hole round will do. But how about a 12-hole round? It may sound unusual to most golfers, but this is exactly what happened at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic this past weekend.

Due to torrential rains, much of the Ocean Club Golf Course was under water. Several of the holes on the par-70 layout were not playable when the tournament was scheduled to start and probably would not be for several days. As a result, tournament officials decided to shorten the course to 12 holes that were playable, play three rounds, and reach the 36 holes required for an official event.

The Rules of Golf provide that a Stipulated Round consists of 18 holes, played in the correct sequence. However, the Rules give the Committee the authority to define the stipulated round as fewer than 18 holes, and also change the order in which the holes are played. However, the Committee does not have the authority to reduce the number of holes of a stipulated round once a round has started (see Decision 33-1/2) or to make a stipulated round more than 18 holes.

In many competitions, players might begin their stipulated round on the first or 10th tees – see Decision 33-1/3. Such is the case during the first two rounds of USGA’s Open championships, and during stroke-play qualifying for all USGA amateur championships. Additionally, the same authority that allows this procedure also permits a “shotgun” start to be utilized, where players could begin their stipulated round on any hole.

In the case of the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, even the course par changed throughout the event. For the first and second rounds, the overall par was 45. For Sunday’s final round, the par-5 18th hole was used for the first time and another hole, which had been converted from a par 5 to a par 3, was no longer used. As a result, the par changed to 47. There is nothing in the Rules of Golf that prohibits changing the course par for different stipulated rounds during a competition.

Whether a stipulated round shorter than 18 holes is scheduled for a competition, or it is necessary because of weather or other unanticipated circumstances, the Rules of Golf give the Committee flexibility to define the appropriate stipulated round for the situation. As demonstrated by the Committee at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, this flexibility may allow a competition to continue when an 18-hole is not feasible and allow options to play the game.  

The USGA will provide up to two Rules of Golf books for minimal shipping and handling charge.  Please contact the USGA Order Department at 1-800-336-4446, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) or go to the USGA Shop on usga.org.



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