Local Guidance for Rule 7 – Committee Actions (includes remaining Appendices)

Perform Handicap Reviews

More information and tools to be available in spring 2024

Recommendations for Handicap Index adjustments based on statistical data contained in the scoring record is available through the club’s administrative tool. These recommendations are provided using the probability for the scores posted and can be used by the Handicap Committee as part of their review. Whether to apply any adjustments remains solely at the discretion of the Handicap Committee after taking into consideration any other knowledge the Committee has relating to the player’s demonstrated ability.

It is strongly recommended that the Handicap Committee perform a handicap review on a monthly basis, or otherwise as needed, on any members who have been identified due to certain scoring anomalies. This should be facilitated via use of a USGA Handicap Review tool that will automatically identify players with certain scoring anomalies and provide supporting data as well as recommended actions to the Handicap Committee such as recommended Handicap Index adjustments. Handicap reviews can also be conducted for individual players at any time upon request. The purpose of the review is for the Handicap Committee to make certain the Handicap Index of the player is representative of their demonstrated ability.

The Committee should pay particular attention to any scores on a player’s scoring record that have been brought to the Handicap Committee’s attention by other members or players. This can be accomplished via peer review or through reporting tools available in the handicap software. The Handicap Review process should consider the data provided by the USGA, its recommended Handicap Index adjustment, and any other evidence the Handicap Committee may have to support or dispute any recommended actions.

Additional information the Handicap Committee may want to consider during a handicap review includes, but is not limited to:

  • How did the player perform in competitions?
  • Did the player have an illness or injury during the year?
  • Are scores being posted in a timely manner?
  • Have there been significant changes to the course most frequently played which may have impacted the fluctuation in the player’s scoring record?
  • Is the player applying the Rules of Handicapping procedure for net double bogey appropriately?
  • Did the player’s home Score Differentials vary drastically from their away Score Differentials?
  • Did the player have any of the WHS safeguards applied during the year (e.g., ESR or cap)?
    • The Handicap Committee should review a player who has multiple exceptional score reductions (ESR) or if a single score produces a -2.0 ESR. A single ESR of -2.0 may indicate the player posted an incorrect score.

Adjust or Withdraw the Handicap Index of any Member Whose Handicap Index Does Not Reflect their Demonstrated Ability

The Rules of Handicapping include safeguards to ensure a player’s Handicap Index accurately reflects their demonstrated ability. However, under some circumstances it will be necessary for the Handicap Committee to consider taking action.

When considering any adjustment to, or withdrawal of, a player’s Handicap Index, the Handicap Committee must ensure that the player is:

  • involved in the process,
  • fully informed of the level of any adjustment or withdrawal, and
  • made aware of how long it applies.

Rule 7 of the Rules of Handicapping provides details on the process for each of these steps. These procedures are designed to both assist the Handicap Committee and ensure that each player is treated fairly and consistently from golf club to golf club.

If it is determined an adjustment to the Handicap Index or Low Handicap Index is appropriate, as a courtesy, the golf club performing the adjustment is strongly encouraged to notify all other golf clubs where the player is an active member.

Clubs are strongly encouraged to consult with their AGA if considering a Handicap Index adjustment of 5.0 strokes or greater. This may be in comparison to the Low Handicap Index or Handicap Index. If a Handicap Index adjustment at or beyond 5.0 strokes is applied, then the AGA will be notified for their review.

Player Appeal Process

Prior to making an adjustment or withdrawal of a player’s Handicap Index, the player must be given the opportunity to respond either in writing or in person to the Handicap Committee.

The player should be provided the information available as to why the Handicap Index is being adjusted or withdrawn, as well as the duration.

The Handicap Committee should ensure that it has procedures in place to settle any disputes in relation to a handicap review or the application of the Rules of Handicapping in general. The player may escalate their appeal of the Handicap Index adjustment to the AGA Handicap Committee for review if they believe the club’s Handicap Committee is not operating within the Rules of Handicapping.

Penalty Score

It is strongly encouraged for a player to post the score on the same day of play. The Handicap Committee is authorized to post a penalty score to a player’s record when a player fails to post an acceptable score from an authorized format of play in a timely manner. No prior notification is required, however, as a part of the club’s policies and procedures it is recommended to notify players of the consequences for failing to post acceptable scores (see Sample Letter – Penalty Score).

The penalty score will be identified with the score type “P” using the date that the score was not posted and can be applied by the Handicap Committee through the handicap software. The Handicap Committee should decide the appropriate penalty score based on the intent of the player and can select a high or low penalty score. This will duplicate the highest or lowest Score Differential found in the player’s most recent 20 scores.

Alternatively, if the Handicap Committee is aware of the score information it may post the actual score with the score type of “P”. The Handicap Committee has the discretion to post the actual score in addition to the penalty score.

Note: If the score not posted was a 9-hole score, or a 10–17-hole score, an 18-hole penalty Score Differential can be issued.

Most Improved Player

The recommended method for determining a golf club’s most improved player at the end of a season, year or custom date range is as follows:

The Committee may determine that they will only consider a player who has at least 20 scores in the scoring record. Add 12 to the player’s Handicap Index at the start date. The number 12 is used to provide a consistent value for all players being evaluated. This value is A. Add 12 to the player’s Handicap Index at the end date. This value is B.

Divide value A by value B, calculating to three decimal places. This is the improvement factor. The player with the highest improvement factor is the most improved player.

Example for Most Improved Player

Starting Handicap Index: 24.3
Ending Handicap Index: 16.2
Value A: 24.3 + 12 = 36.3
Value B: 16.2 + 12 = 28.2
A / B: 36.3 / 28.2 = 1.287…
Improvement Factor: 1.287

Important Note: Players who had a Handicap Index adjustment (reset, frozen, withdrawn) during the selected date range should not be eligible for the most improved player.

Working With the Competition Committee

The Competition Committee typically organizes and runs competitions for the club. The Handicap Committee should consult with the Competition Committee to ensure the following items are decided in advance and clearly communicated:

  • Establish the Terms of the competition for all applicable events at the club.
  • Establish a schedule of events that caters to players of all abilities, offering all members the opportunity to post acceptable scores for handicap purposes.
  • In certain circumstances, the Competition Committee (or the Handicap Committee) has the discretion to decide what Playing Handicap the player should use for specific rounds being played.
  • If needed, jointly obtain approval from the appropriate AGA requesting a suspension of score submission due to exceptionally poor course conditions.
  • Refer to and use the recommended handicap allowances outlined in Appendix C of the Rules of Handicapping for various formats of play.
    • Using the Terms of the competition, scorecards, pairings sheet, or other methods, players should be alerted of any handicap allowances that will be applied to the unrounded Course Handicap to determine the Playing Handicap for the competition.
  • The Handicap Committee should examine the results of competitions and take appropriate action if needed. For example, if a player repeatedly wins or places high in net competitions, then a handicap review to ensure their Handicap Index is reflective of their demonstrated ability would be appropriate.
  • Determine the Handicap Index eligibility requirements for the event.
  • Determine the stroke index allocation to be used for the competition.
    • In mixed competitions where players play their own ball and where allocations are different for men and women, the players are to receive strokes based on their respective stroke allocations.
    • In mixed foursomes, including selected drive match play (each side plays one ball), strokes should be received based on the allocation for men.
  • Determine the Handicap Index to be used for the competition.
    • It is recommended to use the Handicap Index in effect on a date as close to the start of the competition as possible with consideration to the preparation work that needs to take place (pairing, scorecards, etc.).
    • If the competition is played across multiple weeks in a season (such as a season long match play competition), it is recommended to use the player’s Handicap Index on the date that each individual match is played to calculate their Playing Handicap.
  • For multi-round events, determine if the Handicap Index will be updated between rounds or if the Handicap Index at the start of the competition will be used for all rounds.
    • To ease administrative tasks, it is recommended the Handicap Index remain unchanged between rounds for the duration of the competition.
    • If a round is started and play is then suspended, the Handicap Index in effect at the beginning of the round should be used until the round is completed.
  • The USGA strongly encourages the Competition Committee to post all scores. The Committee should also announce they are posting the scores to avoid a duplicate posting scenario. The Committee (preferably the Handicap Committee, in consultation with the Competition Committee) must announce in advance whether the score will be identified by the letter “C” when posted.
    • Even if the same Handicap Index is used throughout the event, it is important for the Committee to post scores at the end of each day.
    • The player’s full, unrestricted Course Handicap should be used for the calculation of the adjusted gross score based on the Handicap Index on the day the competition was played.
Temporary Course Rating and Slope Rating

If the Competition Committee has, at its discretion, used a combination of tees for a one-time event, a Course Rating and Slope Rating must be available to post an acceptable score for handicap purposes. Under this circumstance, the Committee may use Appendix G from the Rules of Handicapping to determine a temporary Course Rating and Slope Rating without AGA involvement. However, this procedure is not a substitute for a formal Course Rating and Slope Rating. If such a combination is utilized long-term, then a request must be sent to the AGA for the issuance of formal Ratings.

Before using Appendix G for a competition, it is important for the Committee to consider the following:

  • If the combination of tees results in less than a 100-yard difference from an existing Rated tee, then no adjustment is necessary, and
  • If the combination of tees results in more than a 300-yard difference from an existing Rated tee, or if the length of a hole has been modified significantly (which could significantly change the way the hole is played), the AGA must be contacted for support.
Competitions Where Multiple Nines are Played

In competitions with a round robin or other format where multiple individual nines are played, the USGA recommends each nine be posted independently for handicap purposes. This provides consistency with the Rules of Golf where they are treated as separate rounds (for example – a player can swap out clubs between rounds, escalating penalties are reset, and the player can receive separate penalties for being late to the tee in respective rounds). As a result, each 9-hole score will receive an 18-hole Score Differential in the scoring record. In addition, this is a practical approach considering the Committee in charge of the competition is encouraged to post scores for players and tournament management products will treat these individual nines separately for pairings, standings, and other administrative purposes.

Competing from Different Tees

When players are competing from different tees or men and women are competing from the same set of tees with the same par, no additional adjustment needs to be made to the Playing Handicap of the players. However, depending on the format of play, if players are competing from tees with different pars an adjustment may be necessary to create equity.

For stroke play or match play formats (including individual stroke play, four-ball stroke play, singles match play and four-ball match play), the player(s) competing from tees with a higher par must receive additional strokes equal to the difference in par. For example, if par is 71 for some players and 72 for others, those playing from the tees with a par of 72 would receive 1 additional stroke for the round.

In most formats of play, the lower score is used to determine a result, i.e., the par is not relevant. For example, on a hole that is a par-4 for men and a par-5 for women, if both players score their respective par, the man wins the hole since a 4 is lower than a 5.

If the format of play is either Stableford (where a player’s point total is compared directly against other players) or a par/bogey format (where the result for the round is compared directly against other players), no adjustment is needed to account for a difference in par (see 6.2b Calculation When Multiple Tees Are Used in a Competition).

Formats of Play and Handicap Allowances

The following is a list of common formats of play with descriptions, as well as their recommended handicap allowances in parentheses. For information on the impact of field on recommended handicap allowance, see C/1 – Impact of Field on Recommended Handicap Allowance .

Stroke Play
Individual Stroke Play (95%)

Each competitor receives full Playing Handicap. The net score is equal to the gross score minus the Playing Handicap. A player with a plus Playing Handicap will add to the gross score to determine the net score.

Individual Stableford (95%)

The scoring in Stableford competitions is made by points awarded in relation to a fixed score (such as par) for each hole as shown below:

HOLE PLAYED IN POINTS
MORE THAN ONE OVER FIXED SCORE OR NO SCORE RETURNED 0
ONE OVER FIXED SCORE 1
FIXED SCORE 2
ONE UNDER FIXED SCORE 3
TWO UNDER FIXED SCORE 4
THREE UNDER FIXED SCORE 5
FOUR UNDER FIXED SCORE 6

The winner is the competitor who scores the highest number of points. Players use full Playing Handicap, and strokes are taken according to the stroke index allocation.

Individual Par/Bogey (95%)

A form of stroke play that uses scoring as in match play where: the competitor wins, loses or ties a hole by completing the hole in fewer strokes, more strokes, or the same strokes as a fixed score for that hole set by the Committee. The competition is won by the player with the highest total of holes won versus holes lost (that is, adding up the holes won and subtracting the holes lost).

Individual Maximum Score (95%)

A player’s score for each hole is capped at a maximum set by the Committee, which may be fixed (such as 8, 9, 10, etc.), related to par (such as two times par or triple bogey), or related to the player’s handicap (such as net double bogey). A player who does not complete a hole (often referred to informally as “picking up”) is not disqualified, but simply gets the maximum score for the hole.

Four-Ball Stroke Play (85%)

Two competitors play as partners, each playing their own ball. The lower net score of the partners is the score for the hole and the total score for all holes played is the team score.

In mixed four-ball stroke play, strokes are taken as assigned on the player’s respective stroke index allocation, and players must play from the sets of tees designated by the Competition Committee.

Four-Ball Stableford (85%)

Two competitors play as partners, each playing their own ball. The scoring in Stableford competitions is made by points awarded in relation to a fixed score (such as par) for each hole. The higher point total of the partners is the score for the hole.

The winner is the side who scores the highest number of points. Players use full Playing Handicap, and strokes are taken as they are allocated on the stroke index allocation.

Four-Ball Par/Bogey (90%)

A form of stroke play that uses scoring as in match play where: the side wins, loses or ties a hole by completing the hole in fewer strokes, more strokes, or the same strokes as a fixed score for that hole set by the Committee. The competition is won by the side with the highest total of holes won versus holes lost (that is, adding up the holes won and subtracting the holes lost).

Match Play

In match play, the game is played by holes. Except as otherwise provided in the Rules of Golf, a hole is won by the player or side that completes the hole in fewer strokes. In a handicap match, the lower net score wins the hole. This includes when the par of the hole is different for those competing in match play. A match is won by the player or side that is leading by a number of holes greater than the number of holes remaining to be played.

Individual Match Play (100%)

The match is won by the player who is leading by a number of holes greater than the number of holes remaining to be played. The higher-handicapped player receives the full difference in the Playing Handicap between the two players; the lower-handicapped player plays from scratch.

Four-Ball Match Play (90%)

Each player plays their own ball. Two players play their better ball against the better ball of two other players. After the unrounded Course Handicap of each player has been determined, the Playing Handicap of all four players is reduced by the Playing Handicap of the player with the lowest Playing Handicap, who then plays from scratch and a 90% allowance is applied to the difference in the unrounded Course Handicap (see below for an example).

Course Rating - 72.3

Slope Rating - 135

Par - 72

PLAYER HANDICAP INDEX COURSE HANDICAP
(UNROUNDED)
DIFFERENCE
(UNROUNDED CH)
HANDICAP ALLOWANCE
(90%)
PLAYING HANDICAP
(ROUNDED)
A +1.2 +1.133... - - 0
B 12.6 15.353... 16.486... 14.838... 15
C 11.4 13.919... 15.053... 13.547... 14
D 15.2 18.459... 19.592... 17.633... 18

Other Formats of Play

In a team competition where players do not play their own ball throughout play of a hole (Foursomes, Chapman/Pinehurst, Scrambles) and a single Playing Handicap is used for the team, the handicap allowances are to be applied to each player’s unrounded Course Handicap, then combined and rounded as the final step to determine the team Playing Handicap.

Foursomes Stroke Play (50% of combined team handicap)

Two players form a side and the side plays one ball. The partners play alternately from the teeing grounds as well as during the play of each hole.

Foursomes Match Play (Higher handicapped side receives 50% of the difference between the combined Course Handicap of each side; lower handicapped side competes at scratch)

Two players form a side and the side plays one ball. The partners play alternately from the teeing grounds as well as during the play of each hole.

Course Rating - 72.3

Slope Rating - 135

Par - 72

PLAYER HANDICAP INDEX COURSE HANDICAP
(UNROUNDED)
COMBINED TEAM HANDICAP DIFFERENCE
(UNROUNDED CH)
HANDICAP ALLOWANCE
(90%)
PLAYING HANDICAP
(ROUNDED)
A 8.4 10.335... 25.688... 0
B 12.6 15.353...
C 11.4 13.919... 32.378... 6.690... 3.345... 3
D 15.2 18.459...
Greensomes (60% low handicap + 40% high handicap)

Two players form a side and the side plays one ball. The partners each play from the teeing ground. Partners select the ball with which they wish to score and play that ball alternately to complete the hole. Depending on whose tee shot is chosen, the other team member will hit the second shot.

Chapman or Pinehurst (60% low handicap + 40% high handicap)

Two players play as partners. Each partner plays from the teeing ground and plays the partner’s ball for the second shot. After the second shot, partners select the ball with which they wish to score and play that ball alternately to complete the hole.

Course Rating - 72.3

Slope Rating - 135

Par - 72

PLAYER HANDICAP INDEX COURSE HANDICAP HANDICAP ALLOWANCE (60% LOW HANDICAP + 40% HIGH HANDICAP) PLAYING HANDICAP
(ROUNDED)
TEAM PLAYING HANDICAP
(ROUNDED)
A 8.4 10.3353982301 6.201... 12.343... 12
B 12.6 15.3530973451 6.141...
Scramble
  • 4 Players (25%/20%/15%/10% from the lowest to highest handicap)
  • 3 Players (30%/20%/10% from the lowest to highest handicap)
  • 2 Players (35% low/15% high)

Each player on the team hits from the teeing ground, then the team chooses the best of the shots for the next shot. All team members then play the second shot from that location, and again choose the best shot. Play continues in this manner until the hole is completed. The team handicap is deducted from the total gross score.

Scramble (4 Players) Example

Course Rating - 72.3

Slope Rating - 135

Par - 72

PLAYER HANDICAP INDEX COURSE HANDICAP HANDICAP ALLOWANCE (25%/20%/15%/10% FROM LOWEST TO HIGHEST HANDICAP) TEAM PLAYING HANDICAP TEAM PLAYING HANDICAP
(ROUNDED)
A 8.4 10.335... 2.583 13.650... 14
B 12.6 15.353... 3.071...
C 23.4 28.255... 4.238...
D 31.2 37.574... 3.757...
Total Score of 2 Match Play (100%)

Two players form a side and play against another side. Each player plays their own ball. The combined total of the two player’s scores for each hole is recorded for the side. The Playing Handicap of all four players is reduced by the Playing Handicap of the player with the lowest Playing Handicap, who then plays from scratch. Each of the three other players is allowed 100% of the difference.

The following formats of play below do not have an official recommendation from the WHS for handicap allowances; however, analysis of scoring data shows the percentages below may provide equity amongst the players. Each golf club should determine if these percentages should be adjusted for their events.

Shamble

In a shamble format, members of the team each hit a tee shot and select the best drive. From there, each player plays their own ball and the lowest score is the team score for the hole. The Competition Committee may want to consider using 75% of each player’s Course Handicap when using selected drive for a two-person team or 65% of each player’s Course Handicap for a four-person team.

Ringer or Eclectic

A ringer or eclectic event is typically played over 36 holes. From the player’s two scorecards, the player selects the better score on each hole. The winner is the player with the lowest total score for the selected 18 holes. Since this format is similar to a four-ball stroke play format, 85% of the Course Handicap may be considered. For a 72-hole eclectic event or ringer board, the Competition Committee may want to use the format of a best 1 of 4 stroke play competition (75%). This event may be completed in one day or extended over consecutive days.

For a ringer/eclectic event extending for more than 72 holes, such as a season long net ringer board, there is not a singular allowance percentage that would provide equity for the competitors. The golf club may want to consider flighting the competitors based on Handicap Index and play a gross ringer within these flights to determine a winner.

Quota

It is suggested to use the handicap allowance recommendation for individual stroke play Stableford of 95%.

Net Skins

The WHS does not have an equitable way to handle net skins and has no recommendations for using handicaps and allocation of strokes in a net skins competition.

Holes Not Played

When one or more holes are not played in match play, the recommendation is for the players to calculate their Course Handicap, apply any handicap allowances for the format of play, and consider a hole not played as tied for the purposes of the competition.

If all 18 holes are not available in a stroke play competition, a percentage of the Course Handicap should be used. For example, if two holes are not being played, the Committee should use 16/18ths of the Course Handicap.

Applying Handicap Allowances

To avoid multiple rounding points when converting a Handicap Index into a Playing Handicap, any handicap allowance should be applied to the unrounded Course Handicap. Also, when determining the allowance in formats of play where the lowest handicap player plays at scratch, the allowance is applied to the unrounded difference.

How to Determine Flights

Match Play

For a match play competition, customarily the number of players or teams in a flight should be placed in the appropriate draw of 8, 16, 32, or 64 (see below). The players or teams in each flight may be determined based on Handicap Index or Playing Handicap. In which case, if there are to be flights of 16, the 16 players with the lowest handicaps (or the 16 teams with the lowest combined handicaps) should comprise the Championship Flight, the next best 16 players or teams based on handicaps should comprise the First Flight, and so on.

Another commonly used method of determining the players or teams for each flight is a stroke-play qualifying round or rounds. If this method is used and there are to be flights of 16, the 16 players or teams with the lowest scores in the qualifying competition should comprise the Championship Flight. If there are to be flights other than the Championship Flight, the 16 players or teams with the next lowest scores should comprise the First Flight, and so on. It is recommended that a tie for last place in the Championship Flight be decided by a hole-by-hole playoff and that players should be advised in advance as to the time and place of the playoff. If a playoff is not feasible, ties should be decided by matching scorecards.

In the case of a handicap match-play competition in which flights are to be determined by a qualifying round, the qualifying round may be conducted at scratch or on a handicap basis. If it is desired not to have high and low-handicap players competing against one another in matches, qualifying at scratch is recommended. Although the draw for match play may be completely blind or certain players may be distributed (seeded) throughout different quarters or eighths, the General Numerical Draw is recommended if flights are determined by a qualifying round. When using the General Numerical Draw, each player is assigned a number based on the player’s qualifying score. The lowest qualifier is no. 1, the second lowest qualifier is no. 2, and so on. Under the General Numerical Draw, players are paired by number for matches as follows:

UPPER HALF LOWER HALF UPPER HALF LOWER HALF
64 Qualifiers 32 Qualifiers
1 vs. 64 2 vs. 63 1 vs. 32 2 vs. 31
32 vs. 33 31 vs. 34 16 vs. 17 15 vs. 18
16 vs. 49 15 vs. 50 8 vs. 25 7 vs. 26
17 vs. 48 18 vs. 47 9 vs. 24 10 vs. 23
8 vs. 57 7 vs. 58 4 vs. 29 3 vs. 30
25 vs. 40 26 vs. 39 13 vs. 20 14 vs. 19
9 vs. 56 10 vs. 55 5 vs. 28 6 vs. 27
24 vs. 41 23 vs. 42 12 vs. 21 11 vs. 22
4 vs. 61 3 vs. 62 16 Qualifiers
29 vs. 36 30 vs. 35 1 vs. 16 2 vs. 15
13 vs. 52 14 vs. 51 8 vs. 9 7 vs. 10
20 vs. 45 19 vs. 46 3 vs. 13 3 vs. 14
5 vs. 60 6 vs. 59 5 vs. 12 6 vs. 11
28 vs. 37 27 vs. 38 8 Qualifiers
12 vs. 53 11 vs. 54 1 vs. 8 2 vs. 7
21 vs. 44 22 vs. 43 4 vs. 5 3 vs. 6

For purposes of determining places in the draw, recommendations can be found in the "Official Guide to the Rules of Golf, Committee Procedures, 5G(1)."

Note: If there are insufficient players to complete a flight, byes are used to complete it. If there is one bye, the player in the no. 1 position in the draw should receive it. If there are two byes, the players in the no. 1 and no. 2 positions in the draw should receive them, and so on. If the competition is made up of numerous flights, the Committee should fill in as many flights as possible before using the byes. The byes should be used in completing the last flight.

Stroke Play

If the field is comprised of high and low handicapped competitors, the Committee might wish to establish flights so that each competitor will be competing against other competitors with comparable ability. The handicap range for each flight is up to the Committee as well as if the flights are to be determined using Handicap Index, Course Handicap, or Playing Handicap.

If the Committee wishes to have players of similar abilities in the same flight, they may wish to determine flight distribution based on the Handicap Index rather than the Course Handicap, which is dependent on the tees played.

For example, in an individual stroke play competition, Flight A might be comprised of competitors with a Handicap Index of 9.9 or less, Flight B for those with a Handicap Index from 10.0 through 19.9, Flight C for those with a Handicap Index from 20.0 through 29.9, and so on. Another option is to wait until entries are complete and then create flights with the players divided evenly by Handicap Index or along natural breaks in the entries.

Determining Overall Flight Winner

For member-guest style events with multiple flight winners, how the overall winner will be decided is up to the Competition Committee.

If a “shootout” will take place, the Committee can choose to use the player’s full 9 or 18-hole Course Handicaps before applying the handicap allowance for the format of play or use a percentage of Playing Handicap based on the number of holes played. If a percentage of Playing Handicap is used, it is recommended that the shootout take place over at least three holes.

How Ties Will Be Resolved

In match play and stroke play, the Terms of the competition should include how ties are resolved.

Match Play

If a match is tied after the final hole, the match is extended one hole at a time until there is a winner, unless the Terms of the competition state otherwise.

The Terms of the competition should specify if the match may end in a tie or if the playoff method will differ from that specified in Rule 3.2a(4) of the Rules of Golf. Options include the following:

  • The match ends in a tie,
  • The match will be extended starting at a specific hole other than the first hole.

In a handicap match, the stroke index allocation as set by the Committee should be used to determine where handicap strokes should be given or received during play of extra holes unless the Terms of the competition state otherwise.

A tie in match play should not be decided by a stroke play playoff.

Stroke Play

The Terms of the competition should specify whether a competition may end in a tie, if there will be a playoff, or if matching of scorecards will be used to determine the winner and other finishing positions.

A tie in stroke play should not be decided by match play.

Playoff in Stroke Play

If there is to be a playoff in stroke play, the Terms of the competition should set the following:

  • When the playoff will be held – for example, if it will start at a specific time, as soon as possible after the last group finishes, or on a later date.
  • Which holes will be used for the playoff.
  • The number of holes over which the playoff will be played – for example, over a specified number of holes such as 3, 6 or 18 holes, and what to do if there is still a tie after that.
    • In the format of stroke play, if a playoff for a handicap competition is over fewer than 18 holes, the number of holes played should be used to determine the number of strokes to be deducted. The fraction of the Playing Handicap determines the rounded value to be used. It is recommended that any such playoff consist of at least three holes. For example, if a playoff is over three holes, one sixth of the Playing Handicap should be deducted from the score for the playoff holes.
    • For playoffs in net competitions where the stroke index allocation is used, such as Four-Ball, Par/Bogey or Stableford competitions, handicap strokes should be applied during the playoff holes as they were assigned for the competition, using the stroke index allocation.
  • Players are only required to return a scorecard for the playoff if the Committee issues them to the players.
Matching Scorecards

If a playoff is not feasible or desired, the Terms of the competition may specify that any ties will be decided by matching scorecards. Even when the winner of a competition is to be decided by a playoff, other positions in the competition may be decided by matching scorecards. The method of matching scorecards should also provide for what will happen if this procedure does not produce a winner.

One method of matching scorecards is to determine the winner based on the best score for the last round. If the tying players have the same score for the last round or if the competition consisted of a single round, determine the winner based on the score for the last nine holes, last six holes, last three holes and finally the 18th hole. If there is still a tie, then the last six holes, three holes and final hole of the first nine holes will be considered in turn. If the round is less than 18 holes, the number of holes used in matching scores may be adjusted.

If this process does not result in a winner, the Committee could consider the competition a tie, or alternatively could decide the winner by chance (such as tossing a coin).

Additional Considerations:

  • If this method is used in a competition with a multiple tee start, it is recommended that the “last nine holes, last six holes, etc.” are holes 10-18, 13-18, etc.
  • For net competitions where the stroke index allocation as set by the Committee is not used, such as individual stroke play, if the last nine, last six, last three holes scenario is used, one-half, one-third, one-sixth, etc. of the Playing Handicaps should be deducted from the score for those holes. Handicap stroke fractions should be rounded if this method is used.
  • In net competitions where the stroke index allocation as set by the Committee is used, such as Four-Ball stroke play, Par/Bogey or Stableford competitions, handicap strokes should be applied consistently with how they were applied for the competition.

Stroke Index Allocation

Recommended stroke index allocations can be provided to the club by the AGA using Course Rating data. The raw hole rankings are based on the combination of Course Rating and Bogey Rating™ relative to par, with the final recommendation adjusted to accommodate stroke play and match play. However, clubs can continue to determine stroke allocation using alternative methods.

The USGA recommends that each course has one allocation for men and one for women, based on the most commonly played tees for each gender. For more information on stroke index allocation, please refer to Appendix E: Stroke Index Allocation of the Rules of Handicapping.

The Golf Course, Course Rating and Slope Rating

Course Rating and Slope Rating

For a score to be acceptable for handicap purposes, it must be played on a set of tees on a golf course with a valid Course Rating and Slope Rating. All tees up to 6,000 yards on an 18-hole course (3,000 yards on a 9-hole course) must be rated for both men and women. It is recommended that all tees up to 6,500 yards on an 18-hole course (3,250 yards on a 9-hole course) be rated for both men and women. If one or more sets of tees on a course have not been rated, the Handicap Committee should contact its AGA for assistance.

Newly constructed courses change rapidly in the first few years and must be re-rated within five years. An established course must be re-rated at least every 10 years, even if it has not been changed in any way. A course must no longer use its Course Rating and Slope Rating if the Ratings are more than 10 years old and scores recorded on that course may not be posted to a player’s scoring record.

The rating information from every set of tees should be:

  • made readily available via online applications,
  • displayed in a prominent place at the club, or
  • printed on the scorecard.
Ensure Course Details are Accurate

The Handicap Committee should periodically review the published Course Rating, Slope Rating, par, and stroke index values within the handicap software to confirm they match what is listed on the scorecard, as well as what is set in the tournament management software ensuring the current information is being used. Published Ratings can be found on the Course Rating and Slope Database™.

Modifications to the Course

The Handicap Committee must notify the AGA when temporary physical changes are made such as use of temporary tees and/or greens. It is especially important to contact the AGA when the course length differs by at least 100 yards from an existing rated tee and the duration of such a change could impact scores posted. After review of the temporary changes, the AGA will determine whether scores made under those conditions are to be accepted for handicap purposes, and whether a temporary Course Rating and Slope Rating should be issued.

If a temporary Rating is issued, the Handicap Committee has the responsibility to notify its members and guests of the temporary Rating and when to resume posting scores to the permanent/published Ratings. If it is determined that temporary Ratings will not be issued, the Handicap Committee has the responsibility to notify its members and guests that when a hole is not played or temporary tees/greens are in use, hole-by-hole score entry must be used so that an expected score can be calculated for holes not played. Alternatively, under limited and practical circumstances, the Handicap Committee may advise players to use net par. Use of net par is only permitted for use one 1 or 2 holes not played. If the holes not played and holes where temporary tees/greens are use in use exceeds 9 holes (and the AGA has decided not to issue temporary Ratings), then the score is not acceptable for handicap purposes.

The Handicap Committee must notify the AGA when permanent changes are made to the course or course set-up has changed significantly. The AGA should then review the current Course Rating and Slope Rating and determine whether a re-rating is necessary. Examples of such occurrences might be:

  • a storm caused a landslide where a green was located, and the course must permanently shorten a hole from a par 5 to a par 3; or
  • in a cost savings effort, maintenance practices changed from cutting the rough daily to twice a week resulting in an increase in average rough height of 1-2 inches; or
  • a portion of the property is sold, and holes are reconfigured to create a new layout.

In the case where modifications impact the stroke index allocation, please contact your AGA for support. This can likely be addressed during the process of generating temporary Ratings for the golf course.

In addition, if nines have been reversed on the golf course, please contact your AGA for support. It is possible that the AGA can accommodate this change through the WHS Course Rating Software if no other significant changes were made to the golf course.

Playing from an Unrated Set of Tees

When a set of tees does not have a Course Rating and Slope Rating for the appropriate gender, the Handicap Committee must contact the AGA for approval to utilize the yardage adjustment table in Appendix G: The Golf Course, Course Rating and Slope Rating to determine temporary Ratings that can be used by the player(s) to post acceptable score(s) for handicap purposes. If scores are posted frequently using the temporary Ratings, the Handicap Committee must contact the AGA so that permanent Ratings can be issued (see rating requirements at “Course Rating and Slope Rating” above).

Working with the Green Committee and Golf Course Superintendent

The Handicap Committee should seek the cooperation of the Green Committee and/or the golf course superintendent/staff in maintaining both length and normal playing difficulty at a constant and fair level. This can be accomplished by balancing the placement of tee markers so that the course’s effective playing length is approximately the same on a daily basis. Similarly, there should be balanced selection of hole locations for the entire course with respect to left, right, center, front and back positions.

A golf course is rated on its effective playing length and its playing difficulty under normal conditions. Due to temporary maintenance practices or unusual weather, a course may play firmer or softer than normal. While these abnormal conditions are present, it is recommended for the Committee to consider using the rear tee areas for a firm course or the forward tee areas for a soft course.

As stated in 7.2 Committee in Charge of a Competition of the Rules of Handicapping, the Handicap Committee or Competition Committee may request that score posting be suspended due to exceptionally poor course conditions. Generally, normal maintenance procedures, such as aeration, would not fall under the category of exceptionally poor course conditions.

The club would need to determine if the course is not reflective of its Ratings or if putting is exceptionally difficult due to aeration, which would be a reason to suspend score posting. The course would not be able to suspend score posting simply because the greens have been aerated. Sometimes, the process has no impact on the how the greens play, in which case, score posting should continue.

The Handicap Committee must consult with the AGA before suspending score posting. The AGA will decide whether scores are to be accepted for handicap purposes.

Preferred Lies

Adverse conditions such as heavy snows, spring thaws, prolonged rains or extreme heat can sometimes damage the course or prevent use of heavy mowing equipment.

When such conditions are widespread on the course, the Committee can choose to adopt a Local Rule for “preferred lies” (also known as “winter rules”) to allow fair play or help protect the fairway. Such a Local Rule should be withdrawn as soon as conditions allow.

The use of this Local Rule outside the fairway in the general area is not recommended as it may result in a player receiving free relief from areas where a ball might otherwise be unplayable (such as in areas of bushes or trees).

In competition play, it is not authorized to implement this Local Rule once play has begun for a stroke-play round. Doing so would allow players who have more holes to play the advantage of using it for a longer period of time. The Local Rule could be implemented once a match has begun between the play of two holes as opponents have an equal benefit.

For guidance on drafting the Local Rule, please refer to Model Local Rule E-3 in the Rules of Golf.

Scores made while the Local Rule for preferred lies is in effect must be posted unless the Handicap Committee (in consultation with their AGA) determines that course conditions are so poor that score posting should be temporarily suspended. Scores may also be acceptable if the player elects to proceed under this Local Rule if it has not been adopted by the Committee.