Mixed and Multi-Tee Events – Handicap Adjustments

Mixed and Multi-Tee Events – Handicap Adjustments

Following the introduction of the WHS it is becoming more prevalent that clubs are allowing mixed competitions and play from different tees, according to a player’s playing ability or designated non-gender tees within the same competition.  One of the intentions of the WHS was to encourage Mixed Tee events, seeing them as the future of golf competitions.

In such cases additional adjustments to playing handicaps are required to make play equitable.

Where players are playing from tees that have been allocated CRs, an adjustment MUST be applied to the handicaps of players playing the course with the higher CR. These adjustments are calculated differently depending on whether the format is Medal Strokeplay or Stableford (and Par/Bogey), 18-hole or 9-hole Competitions.

Many of you, however, are still having concerns as to how and why these adjustments are necessary.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to the number of strokes, in Medal Play, or the number of points, in Stableford or Par/Bogey Competitions, that you are required to score to play to your Course Handicap.

A frequent question that is asked is, “When players are competing from different tees, why do we have to make a second adjustment (Handicap Adjustment)?”

Now there are a number of reasons for it, which players are not always aware of. Namely:

  1. When organising Mixed competitions of any type, stroke play or match play, it must be realised that the competition is effectively being held over separate courses as all the tees will each have their own Course Ratings albeit that they may share common fairways and greens.
  2. It is important to remember, that golf handicaps level the playing field when competing from the SAME tees, unless it is a mix-gendered competition. Handicaps in golf, though, do not level the playing field when players play from different sets of tees or from the same tee with different Course Ratings (i.e., men and women’s ratings).
  3. It would be entirely unfair if this difference is not accounted for by making an alteration to the handicaps of the players playing the harder course (that with the higher Course Rating) hence the requirement that handicaps MUST be adjusted.  
  4. Course Rating is, by definition, the score a Scratch player would be expected to return over a particular course. All handicaps are then adjusted relative to players’ performances against that score. It may seem obvious to state (but seems to be a point not appreciated by a good number of players and committees) that for instance the Ladies’ Course Rating is determined against the performance of a Scratch handicap lady player and the Men’s likewise for a Scratch man.

As you will know from the performance of professional golfers in both Europe and the USA, the best ladies cannot return scores that compare with the best men. As there is no compensation allowed in professional golf, ladies and men do not (generally) compete in mixed events for a single prize, or if they did the winner would only be a man. It could be argued that a club running a competition without making the adjustment for any difference in the Course Ratings is introducing a Condition of Competition that is, at best outside the spirit of, and at worst contrary to, Rule of Golf 3.3b (which does not allow a player to declare a handicap higher than that to which they are entitled). The argument being that if an upward adjustment is not applied to the player on the harder course (higher Course Rating) those on the easier course are effectively playing off too high a handicap, contrary to Rule of Golf 3,3b

To provide equity, then, when competitors are playing from 2 or more different sets of tees, adjustments MUST be made to the Playing Handicaps of some players.

NOTE: These adjustments are used solely to determine competition results and do not affect the player’s Scoring Record or Handicap Index calculation.

On another point, following the introduction of the World Handicap System, many players, also, question the adjustment where players are competing from different sets of tees, or men and women are competing from the same set of tees considering the tees have been allocated a Course Rating and a Slope Rating for both genders.

This can be a difficult concept to understand, and I hope that what follows may help you to understand the position better.

So, we need to define what the Slope Rating does, as many players think the different Slope Ratings automatically take care of the difference in the two sets of tees.

This is a myth. The Slope Rating is used to convert your Handicap Index to a Course Handicap, which allows you to receive the number of strokes you need to play to the level of a scratch golfer for a particular set of tees.  In other words, it is the number of strokes you need to play to the Course Rating for that particular set of tees, i.e., what score you need to Play to your Handicap from that particular set of tees.

With Stableford, Par/Bogey Competitions it will be the number of points you need to play to your handicap for the particular set of tees you are playing.

As an illustration:                                                                                                               

James and John are playing against each other. They each have a 15.8 Handicap Index.

John plays from the White tees which has a Course Rating of 68.5, a Slope Rating of 121 and Par of 70. If you were to look at a handicap table, you would find that John’s Course Handicap is 17.

James plays from the Yellow tees, which has a Course Rating of 64.6, a Slope Rating of 107 and a Par of 69. James’s Course Handicap is 15.

So, what do they each need to score to ‘play to their handicap’?

To find this number we can use what is called a target score, which is the Course Rating added to their Course Handicap. In our example the target scores would be as follows:

For Medal, Gross Score & Maximum Score (18 hole)

John’s Target Score = 68.5 + 17 = 86                          

James’ Target Score = 64.6 + 15 = 80

For Stableford, Par/Bogey Competitions where point count is used:

John’s Target Point Score = 36 – (68.5 – 70) = 37.5 (Rounded to 38)                        

James’ Target Point Score = 36 – (64.6 – 69) = 40.4 (Rounded to 40)

For Medal, Gross Score & Maximum Score (18 hole)

If John scores 86 playing exactly to his handicap his Net will be 69.

If James scores 80, again playing to his handicap, his Net will be 65.

James wins every time.

This is because the course rating is 3.9 (rounded to 4) strokes different from the White tees to the Yellow tees. So, if players compete from different tees a second adjustment needs to be made to equalise their handicaps by adding the difference in the Course Rating to John’s handicap or subtracting the difference in Course Ratings to James’s handicap.

In equity they should both end up with the same Net score if they play to their handicaps.

To adjust ‘off the lower rating’ you would give John a Course Handicap of 21 (17+4), which will now produce the following results: Table 16

NameGross ScoreCourse HandicapNet Score
John8621 (17+4)65
James801565

Or adjust using ‘off Higher Course Rating’, and give James a Course Handicap of 11 (15-4), which will now produce the following results:

NameGross ScoreCourse HandicapNet Score
John861765
James801165

For Stableford, Par/Bogey Competitions where point count is used (18-holes):

NameStableford PointsPoints to Play to HandicapScore
John383838
James404040

James wins every time

This is because the points required to play to handicap is 1.9 (rounded to 2) points different from the White tees to the Yellow tees. So, if players compete from different tees a second adjustment needs to be made to equalise their handicaps by adding the difference in the Points Required to Play to Handicap to John’s handicap or subtracting the difference in Points Required to Play to Handicap to James’s handicap.

NameStableford PointsAdding Adjustment for Difference in Points to Play to HandicapNet Score
John38+240
James40040

NameStableford PointsSubtracting Adjustment for Difference in Points to Play to HandicapNet Score
John38038
James40-238

Adjustments for 9-Hole Competitions are different because the calculation takes into account (Course Rating – Par), which in GB&I it does not for 18-hole Competitions.

Medal, Gross Score and Maximum Score (9-Holes)

A player competing from a set of tees with a higher Par receives additional strokes equal to the difference in Pars

Stableford and Par/Bogey (9-holes)

No adjustment is required. It is accounted for in the calculation of a 9-hole Course Handicap.

In the illustrations above, we have reached our desired goal, where both players have scored to their Course Handicap and their net scores result in a tie.

In some jurisdictions it is recommended that the adjustment be made to the smaller group of players. Example: A tournament has 48 players; 40 are playing from the harder rated tees and 8 are playing from the easier rated tees. An adjustment is made to the course handicap of the 8 players playing the easier rated tees and no adjustment needs to be made to the larger group of players.

Nowhere in the above example has the word par been mentioned. Players often try to throw par into the mix when trying to figure if scores are equal. Par is of little relevance in the handicap system and is a poor indicator of predicting score. For example, one course may be 5500 yards long and have a par of 72 and another may be 7200 yards long and have a par of 72. It is highly unlikely that scores on these two courses would be equal for any level of golfer.

In the example, we have used both Course Rating and Slope Rating. The point is that Slope Rating by itself has little meaning within the Handicap System. There must be a Course Rating standard to connect to the Slope Rating in order for there to be any meaning. If there is one thing to remember from all of this, it is that the Slope Rating is used to convert your Handicap Index to a Course Handicap for a particular set of tees, which allows you to receive the number of strokes you need to play to the level of a scratch golfer for that particular set of tees.

There is then the question of ‘Which Courses to use?’

WHS states quite clearly that each set of players should play a course for which the Course Rating (CR) has been allocated for them, whenever possible. Normally this will mean that the men play from the Men’s Tees using the Men’s CR and the ladies from the Ladies’ Tees using the Ladies’ CR. Even then a handicap adjustment must be applied if the Ladies’ and Men’s CRs are different.

Which card to use in Mixed Foursomes and Four-Ball formats?

  • In Foursomes competitions from mixed tees, when a single ball is in play, the Committee must specify in the Terms of the Competition which single set of tees will determine the Pars and Stroke Index that are to be used but it is recommended that the Ladies’ Par and Stroke Index is used. This does not then require Ladies to play holes that have a lower Par than would be recommended. It does mean that Men may return somewhat higher scores than against their own Par, however, to do otherwise would militate against Ladies making an appropriate contribution.
  • In Four-Ball formats from mixed tees, where players play their own ball, individual players score using the card and Stroke Index appropriate for the tee they are playing from

How do Handicap Allowances and any other adjustments get applied in an 18-hole mixed/multi-tee event?

  • The WHS facilitates play between golfers of any gender, ability or age, as players can compete for the same prize in a competition playing from any rated set of tees
  • When playing in an 18-hole mixed or multi-tee event, whatever the format of play, the first step is for each player to calculate their own individual Course Handicap
  • Next, the applicable Handicap Allowance for the format of play is applied to the Course Handicap, giving the player their Playing Handicap
  • Next, those players playing from a set of tees with a higher Course Rating add additional strokes to their Playing Handicap – equal to the difference between the Course Rating of the tees they are playing from and the tees being played with the lowest Course Rating
  • In Four-Ball formats, strokes are only allocated after each player has calculated their individual Playing Handicap. Strokes are then taken from the player with the lowest Playing Handicap
  • In Foursomes and Greensomes, any adjustment for the difference in Course Ratings would be half of the combined adjustment for each side

A few further examples and summary.

To make competitions from tees with different Course Ratings fair, an adjustment to players’ Course Handicap must be made. An upward adjustment in handicap for players playing from tees with higher Course Ratings (Option 1) or a decrease in handicap for player playing from tees with lower Course Ratings (Option 2) can be applied.

As a Rule of Thumb, when golfers compete from tees that have different Course Ratings, either add OR subtract strokes…

A Two-player example:

In this two-player competition, Roy plays from the White tees and Tom plays from the Yellow. In a simple situation where you just have two players, the RULES OF HANDICAPPING recommend adjusting the Course Handicap of the player playing from the tees with a higher Course Rating. In this case, John is playing from the White tees with the higher Course Rating of 71.3, so you would add the difference in Course Rating (rounded to nearest whole number) to John’s Course Handicap of 12.

White Course Rating – Yellow Course Rating = Difference in Course Rating
71.3 – 68.7 = 2.6 rounded to 3

ItemRoyTom
TeeWhiteYellow
Handicap Index11.216.7
Slope Rating125116
Course Rating71.368.7
Course Handicap1217
Handicap Adjustment (Option 1)+30
Playing Handicap (Option 1)1517
Handicap Adjustment (Option 2)0-3
Playing Handicap (Option 2)1214

A Three-player example:

In this three-player competition, Roy plays from the White tees, Tom plays from Yellow and Jane plays from Red tees. In a simple situation where you just have two players, the RULES OF HANDICAPPING recommend adjusting the Course Handicap of the players playing from the tees with higher Course Ratings. In this case, Jane and John playing from the White and Red tees with the higher Course Rating of 72.7 and 71.3, so you would add the differences in Course Ratings (rounded to nearest whole number) to Jane and John’s Course Handicap of 12 and 17.

Red Course Rating – White Course Rating = Difference in Course Rating
72.7 – 71.3 = 1.4 (Rounded to 1)

Red Course Rating – Yellow Course Rating = Difference in Course Rating
72.7 – 68.7 = 4

ItemRoyTomJane
TeeWhiteYellowRed
Handicap Index11.216.721.2
Slope Rating125116126
Course Rating71.368.772.7
Course Handicap121724
Handicap Adjustment (Option 1)+10_4
Playing Handicap (Option 1)131728
Handicap Adjustment (Option 2)-3-40
Playing Handicap (Option 2)91324

In a Competition situation where you have many players, you can determine what the most efficient route to adjust handicaps would be: adjusting handicaps of player playing from higher Course Ratings or lowering the handicaps of players playing from tees with lower Course Ratings. The effect is the same.

In the above three-player example, if we chose to lower the handicaps of players playing the two sets of tees with the lower Course Ratings (Yellow and Red), then John’s playing handicap would remain at 12, Tom’s would lower to 14 and Dave’s would lower to 15.

A Men and Women competing from same tees with different Course Ratings Example:

In this two-player competition, John plays from the Yellow tees and Jane plays from the Yellow. In a simple situation where you just have two players, the RULES OF HANDICAPPING recommend adjusting the Course Handicap of the player playing from the tees with a higher Course Rating. In this case, Jane is playing from the Yellow tees with the higher Course Rating of 72.8, so you would add the difference in Course Rating (rounded to nearest whole number) to Jane’s Course Handicap of 18.

Yellow Course Rating for Women – Yellow Course Rating for Men = Difference in Course Rating:


72.8 – 68.7 = 4.1 (Rounded to 4)

ItemJohnJane
TeeYellowYellow
Handicap Index11.216.7
Slope Rating116119
Course Rating68.772.8
Course Handicap1122
Handicap Adjustment (Option 1)0+4
Playing Handicap (Option 1)1126
Handicap Adjustment (Option 2)-40
Playing Handicap (Option 2)722

If you have a Competition with, say, 100 players and 88 play from the White tees (like John) and 12 play from the Yellow tees (like Tom), it may be less work for a Competition Committee to adjust the 12 players’ handicaps than the 88 playing from the White tees. In such a case, the RULES OF HANDICAPPING say you can adjust the 12 Yellow tee players’ Course Handicaps downward by 3 strokes. The effect being the same.

Medal, Gross Score & Maximum Score (9 hole)

A player competing from a set of tees with a higher Par receives additional strokes equal to the difference in Pars: 

Playing Handicap  =  [ Course Handicap  X  Handicap Allowance ]  +  Difference in Pars Table 24

TeesMen's TeesMen's ParWomen's TeesWomen's ParWomen's Extra Strokes
Front 9White34Red35+1
Front 9Yellow34Red35+1
Front 9Blue33Red35+2
Back 9White36Red37+1
Back 9Yellow36Red37+1
Back 9Blue36Red37+1

Stableford & Par/Bogey (9 hole)

No adjustment is required. It is accounted for in the calculation of 9-hole Course Handicaps.

To summarise…

If your competition includes two sets of tees or women and men competing from the same tee which has different Course Ratings, either add strokes to the players playing from the higher Course Rating (increase their handicaps) OR subtract strokes from the golfers playing from the lower Course Rating (decrease their handicaps).

If your event includes more than two sets of tees or includes players playing from more than two different Course Ratings, then keep the Course Handicap for the players playing from the lowest Course Rating and add strokes, or increase handicaps for players playing from higher Course Ratings. Alternatively, keep the Course Handicap for the players playing from the highest Course Rating and subtract strokes, or decrease handicaps for players playing from lower Course Ratings.

This article was intended to explain why Handicap Adjustments are necessary in Mixed Tee Events and provide a few illustrative examples.

You can download a document that helps in the understanding of Mixed Tee Handicap Allowances by clicking on the Download Button below:

It has not been possible to cover all competition formats here, without making the article too long.

However, you can download a document that provides details on all Handicap Calculations by clicking on the download button below.

Texas Scrambles

Texas Scrambles

Texas Scrambles are one of the most popular team golf formats, usually consisting of three or four players and where each member of a team plays a shot on every hole.

Texas Scrambles have also been known as Captain’s Choice, because the chosen captain of a team used to decide which of the balls struck would be chosen to decide the spot where the next shot would be played from.

The name Texas Scramble is believed to have originated because of the rising popularity of the game in Texas throughout the 1950s.

One of the many reasons why the format has had success is because it takes the pressure off the individual golfer.

For example, if you were to hit a wayward tee shot into the trees but one of your team members found the middle of the fairway with their drives, you can simply drop your ball near to where their ball came to rest and continue playing from the fairway.

This allows players to relax more, yet still encourages the teams to play aggressive and shoot low scores.

Because of the nature of the Texas Scramble format, it’s possible for a team to carry a weaker player and that makes it a good format for fun, charity or corporate events, where some players may not be regular golfers. It allows them to participate without the fear of losing their team the game.

Handicap Allowance for Texas Scrambles.      

Texas Scrambles have never been recognised by CONGU as an ‘acceptable’ golf format and there have never really been any specific rules regarding the handicap allowance when playing Texas Scramble.

However, the most common handicap allowance that used to be applied when playing the game was 1/10th of the total of four players handicaps or 1/6th of three players.

Unfortunately, the Handicap Allowances that had been used tended to favour the lower Handicap players and hence the stronger teams.

Now, under the new World Handicap System, this has changed, and a more equitable  handicap system is used based on the number of players in each team. You can see the exact recommended numbers below:

  • Scramble (4 players) 25% / 20% / 15% / 10% from the lowest to highest handicap
  • Scramble (3 players) 30% / 20% / 10% from the lowest to highest handicap
  • Scramble (2 players) 35% Low / 15% High

For example, in GB&I, if you’re a team of 4 with handicaps 5, 10, 15 and 20, your team Texas Scramble handicap would be 8.

Player A: 1.25 (5 x 25%) + Player B: 2 (10 x 20%) + Player C: 2.25 (15 x 15%) + Player D: 2 (20 x 10%) = 7.5 (Rounded to 8)

So, if the team above scored a 71 gross, then they would take away their handicap of 8 giving them a net score of 63 which is what they would mark on the scorecard and return. 

In GB&I, these Handicap Allowances are rounded up.

In other jurisdictions, generally, in Texas Scrambles, you don’t round up or down the handicaps. So, if the team above scored 71 gross, then they would take away their handicap of 7.5 giving them a net score of 63.5 which is what they would mark on the card and return. 

In GB&I these Handicap Allowances are mandatory, however in other countries it is by no means a strict rule. Various clubs run Texas Scramble competitions in different ways and may use a different way of working out the handicap allowance, but this is the data provided based on the World Handicap System.

It is fine that WHS have recognised Texas Scrambles and recommended Handicap Allowances for 2, 3 and 4-player teams, but it has not considered the case when players cannot enter a full team.

For example, in a 4-player Texas Scramble a team turns up one player short and therefore can only field a 3-player team.

In a 4-player Texas Scramble if a 3-player team is entered, the Handicap Allowance of 30%,20%,10% cannot be used, the allowance would be totally unfair compared to that given to a 4-player team.

There is no recommendation in the WHS as to how you should deal with this situation, and, as before Competition Committees are being left to their own devices to deal equitably with these situations.

I have contacted CONGU regarding this situation and am assured that they are looking into it.

I await their decision, in time.

Meanwhile, I have found a few ways in which clubs are dealing with this.

  1. Applying the Terms of the Competition, if it states that it is a 4-player Texas Scramble, then any team that will not have 4 members will not be able to compete in the competition and may be asked to withdraw.
  2. Because you cannot override the Handicap Allowance set by WHS in your Handicap Software some clubs introduce a ‘Ghost Player’ to make up the team. From what I have been able to find, this has been either a ‘player’ with a Course Handicap of 18 or 20. I would personally choose a Handicap Index of 20, for a male Ghost Player and a Handicap Index of 24, for a female Ghost Player. These values represent the average Handicap Indexes recommended by the WHS for the respective genders. A male Bogey Player is considered to have a Handicap Index between 17.5 and 22.4, while a female Bogey Player is considered to have a Handicap Index between 21.5 and 26.4.
  3. A third option has been to use, in an example of a 4-player Texas Scramble, the Handicap Allowance for a 3-player Team multiplied by a factor of 1.33. So, allowing an addition of one third to the 3-player handicap allowance. In a 3-player Texas Scramble for a 2-player team there would be a multiplication factor of 1.5, so allowing an addition of one half to a 2-player handicap allowance. In my opinion this adjustment can be a little too generous.

A few tips and hints on playing Texas Scrambles

Below, I have set out some tips that I have gathered for you to consider so that you can be confident and more competitive when playing Texas Scrambles.

A Typical Texas Scramble Format.

  1. Handicap Allowance

Using the information I gave you in the last Newsletter, you can work out the handicap allowance based on the number of players in your team. Something you may notice is that the highest handicap player always has the lower percentage. In England, Wales and Ireland this Handicap Allowance will be Rounded.

  • Tee Off

Every player in your team will tee off, there are no exceptions. Remember, not every ball will be used from the position it lands.

  • Pick the Best Drive

Choose a team captain. You can get together to choose the best drive, and, in most cases, this will be obvious but may require a little discussion if there are two or more drives in a similar position. Your team captain will have the final choice. It’s worth remembering at this point, there are various versions of Texas Scramble with additional rules. A common rule is that each golfer must use a specific number of their drives during the round. In which case, the drive you choose to use must be considered carefully.

  • All Play Second Shot

Having chosen which drive to use, every player in your team will play a second shot from this position. The ball position of any other drives on this hole is ignored and players can pick up their balls to play from the chosen driver position.

  • All Play Third Shot

The same procedure applies as above for all remaining shots, until the hole is complete. Only one golfer needs to hole out on each hole.

  • Mark Down Gross Scores

The total number of strokes played must be marked down on the scorecard, for each hole.

  • Total Score

At the end of the round, calculate the total number of strokes played and take away your team handicap to give the total net score.

How to Win at Texas Scramble

The most obvious way for you to have the greatest chance of winning when playing Texas Scramble is to put together a strong team.

Other than a rule which specifies a minimum number of drives per player, you’re not required to record the name of the golfer who played every shot during the round. As a result, a team made up of lower handicaps have a better chance of scoring low, given the handicap allowance is quite low, a lot of the shots from higher handicaps will be wiped out.

So, when choosing a team, make sure you have at least one low handicap player to give you a chance of winning.

With higher handicappers, there’s little reward for consistency when playing a Texas Scramble.

So, in this case, it makes sense to choose high handicap players who may play some poor holes but are also capable of producing great shots. There may be times when the ball of a high-handicap player is completely out of contention but at other times, it may be in a really good position and that is all you need when playing a Texas Scramble.

As I mentioned above, consistency isn’t going to help you win a game of Texas Scramble. Therefore, you may as well play attacking shots throughout the round as you always have the back-up of the other players in your team.

It can also be an advantage if you decide the order of play for players within your team.

For example, if you are teeing off first and believe you can carry the ball over a penalty area, say a pond or small ravine, but it’s a bit of a risk, just give it a go. If you don’t quite carry it, the other players in your team can play a more conservative shot to get a ball in play.

However, if you do make it over the penalty area, you’re going to be in a great position for the second shot and the remaining players can also have a go and could even end up in a better position than yours for the second shot.

Perhaps the only time when you may consider playing conservatively is when you are teeing off last in your group and the other shots have all gone astray. This would be a good time to just get the ball in play on the fairway, without trying anything too ambitious.

Another point to consider in your playing strategy is which drive to use and when.

If one of your team regularly struggles off the tee, you should try and use their drives as early as possible or on par-3 holes and try not to leave one player with most of her or his drives in the final few holes.

Remember:

  1. There is an advantage to playing a Texas Scramble, in that, whatever anyone may say, it removes the pressure from each individual player in a team.
  2. But, if you end up forcing a player to use her or his drive in 3 of the final 4 holes, however good they are off the tee, you increase the pressure on them and leave the team without any options should they miss a fairway.

I hope you find this useful,

Good Luck in your next Texas Scramble

World Handicap System 2020 – WHS Winter Golf – Updated 4 November 2021

World Handicap System 2020 – WHS Winter Golf

This post may be a little academic at this time of a Third Lockdown and Golf Courses being closed in England, Wales and Ireland (Scotland remaining open), but I have received a number of emails over the last few weeks concerning the WHS and Winter Handicaps, Winter Tees, Winter Courses and Winter Rules.

The most common problem has been where Clubs have not rated their Winter Tees, because of their temporary nature,  but wish to run competitions on these courses.

Added to this is is the fact that Club Handicap Software will not offer the option for winter handicaps under the  WHS.

It is the intention of the national federations that there is a 12-month handicapping season.  WHS allows for the return of scores less than 18 holes, when a club designates some unplayable, for example due to wet conditions or lack of light.  Handicap Software Systems  have  guidelines allowing for shortened holes and winter tees.  PCC (the new equivalent to CSS) is designed to account for daily playing conditions and handicaps are calculated against this, not the course rating (the new equivalent to SSS) or par.

Your Club will still be able organise non-qualifying competitions and process these through your Handicap Software for publication.

The World Handicap System states that acceptable scores for handicap purposes should be posted throughout the year.

However, this is not really feasible when winter courses are in play, especially courses which are not sand-based; the advice is that when course conditions are poor then it is not reasonable to be submitting qualifying (Acceptable) scores.

Regardless of the season, acceptable scores can only be submitted on a rated course (which would include a temporary rating where necessary).

If a Club does not have such a course, for whatever reason  and a common one now is that Winter Tees have not been rated, then clearly such scores cannot be submitted.

Appendix G of the Rules of Handicapping is solely for when there are temporary adjustments to a course for reasons such as emergency maintenance on a tee etc. and does not include a winter course.

So, if a club wants to offer Acceptable Scores during the winter period when winter tees are in use, then the course being played needs to have a rating, whether that is a full rating or a temporary rating.

A Club must apply for this rating and it is up to the appropriate County to provide this service (albeit at their convenience – they are all volunteers!).

Whilst the aim is to allow submission of Acceptable Scores all year, a level of realism is required on courses that are clearly sub-standard due to weather conditions (as they would have been in previous years).

This situation may not just be for winter, it would not be unreasonable, even in the Summer playing season, that a club could prevent the return of Acceptable scores (competition and social/General Play) if the course is not in a good condition – examples of this could be when the greens have been hollow-tined or heavily top dressed.

Until a Course Rating has been issued a Club may only run Non-acceptable Competitions.

To sum up:

Acceptable Scores – Winter Competitions

To run Competitions and want scores to be acceptable for Handicap Purposes:

  • Competitions must be run over 9 or 18 Holes.
  • Rounds must be played in accordance with Rule 2.1 of the Rules of Handicapping Page 26.
  • Preferred lies are allowable under the guidance below.
  • Scaling up is allowed in accordance with Rule 3.2 of the Rules of Handicapping (Page 36/37).

If a Club cannot run Competitions that are acceptable for Handicap Purposes, it can still run Non-acceptable Competitions that can be set up using Club Software or Manually to record Scores and Winners.

The following procedure is quite permissible, and several Clubs are following similar ones.

Non-Acceptable Scores – Winter Competitions

To run Competitions where scores are not acceptable for Handicap Purposes, but where results can be processed, a neutral slope of 113 and a Course rating equal to the Par of the holes being played can be used.

This will mean a Chart to generate the Course Handicap is not required (i.e., your Course Handicap is your rounded Handicap Index).  The scores cannot be Acceptable for handicap purposes, but it does allow non-qualifying competitions to be run during this period (lockdown notwithstanding).

    • If your Club uses Software to run the competition you can follow the guidelines within the software to cater for unrated courses.
    • If your Club runs its competitions manually, you can use the Handicap Index as the basis for the calculation of a Course Handicap and/or Playing Handicap which should then be adjusted relative to the number of holes being played.

Guidance on the Preferred Lies Period

Preferred Lies – Model Local Rules E-2 and E-3.

In England, Wales and Scotland the Preferred Lies Period runs from 1st October to 30th April while in Ireland, the Preferred Lies period is from November 1st to April 30th.

Clubs can run competitions where scores are acceptable for handicapping purposes during this period when both Model Local Rule E-2 and E-3 are in force.

It is recommended that a Local Rule permitting preferred lies in the general area outside of the preferred lies period should be used only in extreme circumstances where scores will not be accepted for handicapping purpose (WHS Guidance document Appendix H).

The purpose of preferred lies as described in Model Local Rule E-3 is to protect areas of the course cut to fairway height or less.  This Model Local Rule allows players to lift, clean and place the ball within six inches in the General Area cut to fairway height.  It is recommended that the ball should be marked before lifting.  The ball must be placed in the relief area within six inches of the reference point.

However, it is not recommended that this Rule is routinely adopted for the General Area as a whole because it could give a player an unfair advantage by offering her/him free relief from an unplayable lie, e.g., a ball located behind a tree or under a bush.

There is another Model Local Rule, E-2, that may be adopted which allows balls to be cleaned in the General Area when conditions such as wet ground throughout parts of the course may cause mud to stick to the ball.

The purpose of Model Local Rule E-2 is to allow players to clean the ball in the general area (which would include the Rough) when conditions throughout parts of the course cause mud to stick to the ball.  This allows the ball to be cleaned and replaced and should be limited to those parts of the course where needed, not to the whole course. The ball must be marked before lifting and cleaning and must be replaced on its original spot before playing.

During the Preferred Lie period scores may not be returned for handicapping purposes if any of the following local rules or restrictions apply: –

    1. Preferred lies in the general area or where the relief area exceeds 6 inches.
    2. The ball is lifted from the fairway and placed or dropped in the semi-rough
    3. The competition is over less than 18 holes but is not a 9 hole competition
    4. If the competition is played using winter tees or greens and a temporary modification to the course and slope ratings has not been approved by the area authority
    5. Where the use of fairway mats does not follow the rules provided in the WHS Guidance document Appendix H GH/2.

I hope this offers some help and guidance for those of you trying to work through the Winter Period and organise competitive Golf Competitions

England Golf have issued guidelines on Winter Golf, England Golf Winter Golf Checklist which you can read below or download a copy by clicking on the Download Button below:

You can download a copy of this advice by clicking on the link below:

World Handicap System 2020 – WHS Winter Golf • Getting to Grips with the Rules of Golf (my-golf.uk)

Stay safe and well

Best wishes

Tony

Email: tony@my-golf.uk

Blog: www.my-golf.uk

Adverse Weather Conditions

Running a Competition in Adverse Weather Conditions?

During the winter months you may find you have to contend with periods of inclement weather, both before and during competitions.

Some golf clubs may also find that adverse weather conditions may not always be confined to the winter but can present themselves during the summer period.

Your golf club committee should be conversant with the R&A guidelines set out in the Committee Procedures section of the Rules of Golf and especially  section 8J –  ‘Procedures for Bad Weather and Suspension of Play’.

New Year Golf!

Hope it is not too late to wish you all a very Happy New Year, but how has 2018 started for you?

On top of implementing the CONGU changes we have had to contend with playing in wet and windy conditions and some course closures.

Luckily only one competiton had to be cancelled after it had started.

How do you deal with this type of situation?

Well a great publication that has served me well is Scottish Golf’s ‘GUIDANCE ON RUNNING COMPETITIONS AFFECTED BY ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS’, coming from a country where ‘adverse’ could be interpreted more as ‘extreme’ it offers help and sensible advice for any golf club competitions’ committee; well worth a read and even keeping a copy in the Handicap or Competition Committees’ files.

Click on ‘GUIDANCE ON RUNNING COMPETITIONS AFFECTED BY ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS’ to read a copy.

Enjoy your golf in 2018.