As cooler fall weather establishes itself across much of the country, golfers in some states will find their golf season move from “active” to “inactive” as it pertains to their Handicap Index®. What does that mean, what’s the purpose and what if you play a round in a state that is active but reside in a state that isn’t? The USGA Handicapping Department covers your questions below.
What is the inactive season?
Simply put, the inactive season is the period on the calendar during which any round you play in your home state or region does not count toward your Handicap Index.
But my course is still open during the inactive season, why doesn’t my score count?
The inactive season exists to address how seasonal weather can impact the conditions of a golf course. When an Allied Golf Association (AGA) issues a Course Rating™ and Slope Rating™ for each set of tees at a golf course, both are based on effective playing length and difficulty under “normal” conditions. In many parts of the country, there are certain months when facilities remain open but are unable to maintain regular course conditions because of weather. If scores were acceptable for handicap purposes during these times, the Handicap Index of players could be unfairly distorted.
What if I reside in a state that’s inactive but play in a state that’s active?
Let’s say you live in New York but play golf in Florida in January – in that case, your score does count toward your Handicap Index. Just remember that, as in all cases, any rounds played on a course other than your home course should receive an Away or “A” score designation when posting the score.
Who determines the inactive season?
Your local AGA! Note that the duration varies by region with some states (like California and Florida, for example) always staying active due to a favorable year-round climate. To see where your state falls, check out the full Handicap active and inactive season schedule on USGA.org.
How can I learn more about what a Handicap Index is and how it can be used?
The USGA Handicapping Department has a comprehensive series of resources available free for all golfers, complete with FAQs, videos, articles and more. And you can always reach out to your local AGA directly with a question.
Don’t have a Handicap Index? It’s never been easier to get one! Just visit USGA.org/getahandicap and learn more about how it can help you track your progress while enhancing the fun and social aspects of your game.