FAQs: Posting Scores and Rules of Golf Changes July 15, 2016

(Handicap System Section 5 FAQs Related to the Rules of Golf: Rule 6-6d, 14-1b, & 14-3)

The Rules of Golf had a few significant changes that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2016. We have been answering questions about how the changes impact the acceptability of scores for handicap posting purposes and made this document available for further clarification. Please refer to the following FAQs for guidance in determining the procedure and acceptability of scores in regard to the USGA Handicap System™.

Rule 14-1b & Score Posting

Q:  If a player anchors the club while making a stroke, is that score acceptable for handicap purposes?

A:  Yes, as long as the appropriate penalty is applied. The penalty for breach of Rule 14-1b for anchoring during a stroke is two strokes in stroke play for each instance, and loss of hole in match play. (Note: There is no limit to the number of penalties that can occur for anchoring while making a stroke.)

For handicap purposes, if a player anchors while making a stroke, the applicable stroke play penalty is applied to determine the gross score for that hole, and is then subject to adjustment according to Section 4.

For example, a player with a Course Handicap of 15 anchors while making two strokes on the first putting green and scores a 5. Four strokes are added as penalty strokes for a gross score of 9. The player’s Equitable Stroke Control limit is 7, so a 7 is the player’s adjusted hole score.

Q: If a player anchors while making a stroke and ignores the appropriate Rules of Golf penalty, can a score be posted?

A:  No. If the player ignores the penalty for this breach under the Rules of Golf, then the score is unacceptable for handicap purposes. See Section 5-1e(vii). The USGA Handicap System strives to capture scores that are played under the Rules of Golf to ensure the player’s Handicap Index® reflects potential ability.

Q:  If a player anchors a club while making a stroke, could that hole be treated as par plus any handicap strokes the player is entitled to receive?

A:  The procedure under Section 4-2 for a hole not played under the Rules of Golf doesn’t apply in this case. Section 4-2 is to be used when the hole wasn’t played under the Rules and determining a hole score under the Rules of Golf is difficult, such as playing a wrong ball and not correcting the mistake.

Q:  If a player is using anchoring or similar methods to inflate a Handicap Index purposefully, what can be done?

A:  If the player is purposely breaching a Rule of Golf in an effort to inflate hole scores, or ignoring the penalties as a means to refrain from posting a score, then the Handicap Committee can take action under Section 8 of The USGA Handicap System.

New for 2016:

Limited Exception to Disqualification Penalty for Submission of Incorrect Score Card

A new exception has been introduced to Rule 6-6d (Wrong Score for Hole) to provide that a player is not disqualified for returning a lower score for a hole than actually taken as a result of failing to include penalty strokes that the player did not know were incurred before returning the score card. Instead, the player incurs the penalty under the Rule that was breached and must add an additional penalty of two strokes on the hole for which the error occurred. In all other cases in which a player returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, the penalty will continue to be disqualification.

Q:  How would this impact the score to be posted for handicap posting purposes?

A: The player must post the adjusted gross score, which includes including the penalty strokes for the breach of the Rule, and an additional penalty of two strokes for failing to include the penalty strokes in the hole score.

For example, a player returns a score of 85, which did not include a penalty of two strokes for using a training aid on the second tee. The player was not aware of the breach until after the score card was returned. The score for the player will change to an 89 (85 + 2 (breach of Rule 14-3) + 2 (additional penalty under Rule 6-6d) = 89).

In other cases in which a player returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, the player is disqualified from the competition but will post the correct adjusted gross score – see Section 5-1d.


Rule 14-3 & Score Posting

Q:  Are scores acceptable for handicap purposes when the player uses information generated from a Distance-Measuring Device (DMD) or Multi-Functional Device (MFD)?

A:  If a player uses a DMD/MFD to measure distance only, regardless of whether the Committee has adopted a Local Rule allowing the use of a DMD/MFD, the score is acceptable for handicap purposes. The score is also acceptable for handicap purposes if the player uses the DMD/MFD to access weather reports through an application or internet browser. Handicap Decisions 4-2/1 and 5-1e/2 address this situation.

However, if the player uses the device to access information to gauge or measure specific conditions, (e.g., elevation changes or wind speed), the player is disqualified and the score is unacceptable for handicap purposes.

Q:  If a player is in breach of Rule 14-3 (artificial devices, unusual equipment, and abnormal use of equipment), for example, holding a golf ball against the grip when putting, how is that treated for handicap purposes?

A:  The penalty for the first breach of Rule 14-3 is two strokes in stroke play and loss of hole in match play. Any subsequent breach results in disqualification.

For example, the first time a player holds a golf ball against a grip when putting, a two-stroke penalty is incurred and the player proceeds with a gross score (including penalties) then adjusts according to Section 4. However, if the player breaches Rule 14-3 again during that round, it results in disqualification under the Rules of Golf and makes the score unacceptable for posting. See Section 5-1d and 5-1e(v).