Want to know your Golf Course’s Slope Rating?

Slope Ratings for  Golf Clubs Worldwide

With the World Handicap System up and running in most countries you can now search for the Slope Rating of many Golf Course, worldwide.

Introduction of the World Handicap System in GB&I is still on track for 2nd  November 2020.

All Golf Clubs have been issued with digital educational material allowing them to organise club information sessions .

If you want to know your Golf Course’s, or any Golf Course’s,  Slope Rating, follow the link below to the USGA Course Rating and Slope Database (TM) where you can, by entering details of a Golf Course, search for the Slope Rating of any Golf Course Worldwide which has had its Slope Rating issued for 2020. For England enter Country as ‘England’ NOT ‘UK and Leave the Club State field blank. Note that the layout you see will be different for Windows and iOS (iPad, iPhone) best layout is Windows:

Course Rating and Slope Database™

Enjoy your golf

Tony

Email: tony@my-golf.uk

Rules Blog: www.my-golf.uk

England Golf Update – 3 and 4 Balls to Return

Three and fourball play to re-commence from 1 June

 Words that many have been waiting patiently for since Golf courses were allowed to open.

It means that you can play with your friends and competitions can again be scheduled, although it will mean farewell to the gloriously enjoyable 3-hour rounds we have been playing over the last few weeks. One more player adds up to half an hour to a round, so look out for the 3hrs 30 mins and 3 hrs 50+ rounds.

England Golf is today pleased to confirm that threeball and fourball play can re-commence from Monday 1 June

It remains our recommendation for a minimum 10-minute interval between tee times.

Clubs may choose to run competitions provided social distancing (https://www.englandgolf.org/playsafe/) and safety regulations (https://www.englandgolf.org/coronavirus-faqs/) can be strictly observed at all times.

Full statement from UK golf bodies:

THE latest UK government adjustment of lockdown conditions now permits golf clubs in England to re-introduce the fourball format from Monday 1 June.

As part of a phased return to play, up to four golfers from four separate households may now play together in one single group from the above date.

For coaching in England, the impact of these changes remains unclear. The PGA are working in collaboration with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf to seek confirmation. Further guidance will be communicated once clarity can be provided.

Please note it is essential that golfers continue to strictly observe social distancing and safety regulations relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

All other industry guidelines pertaining to the playing of the game remain unchanged from those issued ahead golf’s phase one return on 13 May.

While COVID-19 remains a live threat in our communities, we would ask everyone involved in the game to act responsibly, show respect and protect the wellbeing of golfers, staff and volunteers.

**The following organisations have come together to help golf in the UK during the COVID-19 crisis and, through the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Golf, to work with Government to promote safe golf:

American Golf; The Belfry; the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association; the British Golf Industry Association; England Golf; the Golf Club Managers’ Association; Golf Ireland; the Golfing Union of Ireland; the Irish Ladies’ Golf Union; IMG; The Professional Golfers’ Association; PING; The R&A; Scottish Golf; Syngenta; the UK Golf Federation; Wales Golf.

You can download a copy of the Official statement by clicking on the download button below:

Enjoy your golf, but remember, Play Safe and Stay Safe

Best wishes

Tony

Coronovirus FAQs for GB&I on the Return to Golf

Coronovirus FAQs for GB&I on the Return to Golf

National Golfing Organisations Covid-19 FAQs

Following the re-opening of Golf Courses in GB&I, each National Organisation has issued its FAQs regarding playing golf in its country.

Although very similar, some of the details of the restrictions do vary in each country.

Click here to view the England Golf FAQs regarding the reopening of Golf in England

Click here to view the Wales Golf FAQ’s regarding the reopening of Golf in Wales Updated V3

Click here to download the Wales Golf Guidance Document for Playing Golf in Wales and UK Under COVID-19 Restrictions (VERSION 3)

Click here to download the Wales Golf, ‘Golfers Stay Safe Guidance’ infographic (VERSION 2)

Click here to view the Golf Ireland FAQs regarding the reopening of Golf in Northern Ireland

Click here to view the Scottish Golf FAQs regarding the reopening of Golf in Scotland

If you are returning to playing golf, Stay Safe and Play Safe

Remember that if you are in the ‘Vulnerable Category’, which includes those over 70 years of age government guidelines must still be followed and returning to playing golf is at your own discretion.

If you are in the ‘Extremely Vulnerable’ category then you must be shielding and ‘Stay at Home’ – so no Golf for you yet.

So Stay Safe and well

Tony

Playing Golf Under COVID-19 and an Update on the World Handicap System

Playing Golf Under COVID-19 and an Update on the World Handicap System

Well, what a start to the 2020 Golfing year. First we have courses unplayable because of torrential rain and now, just when the season should be getting underway we have COVID-19 pandemic and total lockdown.

But, with the UK Government suggesting that we have passed through the first phase of the crisis, there is optimism that there may be an easing of some lockdown restriction.

The Golfing industry has taken this as very promising and several of golf’s governing and professional bodies have issued separate guidance to clubs on five main areas as the industry develops how the game could be played when lockdown restrictions start to be lifted, and bear in mind that Social Distancing and COVID-19 may be with us for a while to come.

Separate guidance statements have been released:

One from the R&A, one from England Golf, and a joint report from the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA), British Golf Industry Association (BGIA), British and International Golf Greenkeepers’ Association (BIGGA), Foremost, Golf Club Managers’ Association (GCMA), TGI Golf, and the UK Golf Federation.

The guidance covers everything ranging from bunker rakes to flagsticks, the number of holes we are allowed to play, and clubhouses being reopened.

You can read each statement by following the links below:

The R&A statement suggests that, Clubhouses should be closed and competitions shouldn’t be played during the initial period when golf returns from the coronavirus lockdown and covers five main areas – course set-up, before, during and after the round and Rules of Golf related issues – after working with a range of UK bodies on how golf could be played when the government decides it is safe to begin easing the current restrictions.

On a lighter note, England Golf has today published an update to its information on the World Handicap System scheduled to be introduce in GB&I on 2 November 2020.

Their statement reads:

‘The hard work behind the scenes continues as we prepare for the launch of the World Handicap System in just six months’ time. Next week, we will roll out the latest stage of our education campaign to golfers ahead of the 2 November start date. There will be an easy to follow, step-by-step series on the key elements of WHS:

  1. An introduction to the World Handicap System
  2. Your Handicap Index
  3. Submitting scores
  4. Maintaining your Handicap Index’

You can read more by following this link:

England Golf – WHS 2020

Enjoy your weekend as much as you can under these unprecedented circumstances, stay positive safe and well and we all will enjoy playing golf soon; albeit, not quite in the format we are used to for the time being.

Best wishes

Tony

UK Golf Courses to Close as of 23 March 2020

Statement from England Golf on Monday 23 March 2020 in light of the UK Prime Minister’s Action to contain COVID-19 Pandemic

Clubs, courses and facilities must close

Following on from the Prime Minister’s statement tonight (23 March), in which he sated that everyone must now STAY at HOME (with some exceptions), certainly for a period of three weeks, a period that will be reviewed, golf clubs, courses and facilities in England must now close.

It is England Golf’s position that this deeply regrettable, but highly necessary and responsible course of action must be implemented with immediate effect and be maintained until further notice.

The government has identified an urgent need to introduce new restrictions on public life and on non-essential businesses opening their doors.

This has been done to limit the spread of the coronavirus and relieve the growing pressure on our National Health Service.

Keeping golf courses open is simply no longer compatible with the updated policy of government which is designed to save lives in a time of national emergency. 

The health and wellbeing of the nation is the only consideration that matters at this moment in our history.

These are incredibly testing times for the country. The golf industry cannot be shielded from the economic and social ramifications caused by this temporary shutdown of normal life.

We would like to assure the golfing community that England Golf staff will continue to work remotely with all affiliated golfers, clubs and counties to try and minimise the damage caused by this suspension of regular golf club life.

We will continue to signpost clubs and counties to the latest government advice and schemes designed to help the economy cope with the disruption caused by coronavirus.

You may read the full announcement by clicking on the link below

England Golf Full Statement on COVID-19

Hope we will all be back to playing golf again, soon

Best wishes and please stay safe

Tony

Must I Use the Same Make and Model of Golf Ball to Play Out a Hole or a Whole Round of Golf?

A reader of my Blog recently asked:

‘If you play a mixed Match Play competition and the Men tee off first with their ball of their choice, is it cheating when it comes to the Ladies teeing off with their own ball, or must they tee with the ball used by the man on the first tee?’

Provided the competition does not have a ‘One-Ball’ local rule in operation then it is quite permissible to play with different balls.

It does not mean that you have to literally play with the same ball as your partner, only a ball of the same make and model.

In formats where players play one ball, often partners may agree to play a particular make and model of ball that one partner prefers, but this does not tie them to having to use that specific make and model to play out the hole or the whole round. There may be times when the ball has to be substituted and players do not necessarily have the same ball in their bag.

The one ball rule is an optional condition that Committees may choose to use. If this rule is in effect, you must play with the same brand, make and model of golf ball that you started the round with. This means that if you start playing with a Titleist Pro V1, you must play a Titleist Pro V1 for the remainder of the round and may not switch to another brand or even another model of Titleist golf ball (see Committee Procedures; Model Local Rule G-4).

This rule is usually reserved for elite competitions especially those played by the professional golfers, normal Club and County Competitions do not adopt this rule.

Enjoy your golf,

Tony

Rules of Golf Blog: www.my-golf.uk

Email: tony@my-golf.uk

May a Player Ask for Advice or Help During a Round of Golf?

Asking for Advice or Help During a Round of Golf

I recently received the following question:

‘I was out with a Junior and her Dad in a Medal Comp .
On one hole she asked her dad if she should use her 6 iron and I immediately told her she cannot ask him any questions like this during a round of golf of in which he was not paired with her or working as her caddy ? I did not see if he then gave any visible indication (a nod or similar) as I went to play my ball

On another hole, played over water, the parent reminded her to take account of the wind.

When I have looked at this I found the following old ruling and would ask if this is still a ruling now following various changes ?

“The following ten questions and statements, do incur a penalty of two strokes in stroke play, or loss of hole in match play, for the player asking for, or giving the advice:
“Do you think that an 8-iron will get me to the green?”
“Am I swinging too fast?”
“I think that this putt is dead straight, what do you think?”
“Should I try and play this ball out of the water hazard or take a penalty drop?”
“That was my 7-wood, what are you going to use?”
“Keep your head still as you putt.”
“You haven’t really got a shot; if I were you I’d declare your ball unplayable.”
“The wind is against us, you need at least one extra club.”
“Don’t use your driver here or you may end up in the water hazard.”

Finally, there is one statement that many of us regularly use but probably shouldn’t if the Rule on Advice is very strictly interpreted. When a fellow competitor’s putt just lips out and he goes charging up to the hole to tap it in we should try and refrain from saying ……….… “Take your time”’

Firstly, we have the definition of Advice under the Rules of Golf 2019:

Advice
Any verbal comment or action (such as showing what club was just used to make a stroke) that is intended to influence a player in:
• Choosing a club,
• Making a stroke, or
• Deciding how to play during a hole or round.
But advice does not include public information, such as:
• The location of things on the course such as the hole, the putting green, the fairway, penalty areas, bunkers, or another player’s ball,
• The distance from one point to another, or
• The Rules.

Interpretation Advice/1 – Verbal Comments or Actions That Are Advice
Examples of when comments or actions are considered advice and are not allowed include:
• A player makes a statement regarding club selection that was intended to be overheard by another player who had a similar stroke.
• In individual stroke play, Player A, who has just holed out on the 7th hole, demonstrates to Player B, whose ball was just off the putting green, how to make the next stroke. Because Player B has not completed the hole, Player A gets the penalty on the 7th hole. But, if both Player A and Player B had completed the 7th hole, Player A gets the penalty on the 8th hole.
• A player’s ball is lying badly and the player is deliberating what action to take. Another player comments, “You have no shot at all. If I were you, I would decide to take unplayable ball relief.” This comment is advice because it could have influenced the player in deciding how to play during a hole.
• While a player is setting up to hit his or her shot over a large penalty area filled with water, another player in the group comments, “You know the wind is in your face and it’s 250 yards to carry that water?”

Interpretation Advice/2 – Verbal Comments or Actions That Are Not Advice
Examples of comments or actions that are not advice include:
• During play of the 6th hole, a player asks another player what club he or she used on the 4th hole that is a par-3 of similar length.
• A player makes a second stroke that lands on the putting green. Another player does likewise. The first player then asks the second player what club was used for the second stroke.
• After making a stroke, a player says, “I should have used a 5-iron” to another player in the group that has yet to play onto the green, but not intending to influence his or her play.
• A player looks into another player’s bag to determine which club he or she used for the last stroke without touching or moving anything.
• While lining up a putt, a player mistakenly seeks advice from another player’s caddie, believing that caddie to be the player’s caddie. The player immediately realizes the mistake and tells the other caddie not to answer.

Secondly, we have the Rule of Golf itself, Rule 10.2 which deals with the limits to the advice or help a player may get during a round and who may give it.

Rule 10.2: Purpose: A fundamental challenge for the player is deciding the strategy and tactics for his or her play. So there are limits to the advice and other help the player may get during a round.
a.
Advice
During a round, a player must not:
• Give advice to anyone in the competition who is playing on the course,
• Ask anyone for advice, other than the player’s caddie, or
• Touch another player’s equipment to learn information that would be advice if given by or asked of the other player (such as touching the other player’s clubs or bag to see what club is being used).
This does not apply before a round, while play is stopped under Rule 5.7a or between rounds in a competition.
See Rules 22, 23 and 24 (in forms of play involving partners, a player may give advice to his or her partner or the partner’s caddie and may ask the partner or partner’s caddie for advice).
b.
Other Help
(1) Pointing Out Line of Play for Ball Anywhere Except on Putting Green. A player may have his or her line of play pointed out by:
• Having his or her caddie or any other person stand on or close to the player’s line of play to show where it is, but that person must move away before the stroke is made.
• Having an object (such as a bag or towel) set down on the course to show the line of play, but the object must be removed before the stroke is made.
(2) Pointing Out Line of Play for Ball on Putting Green. Before the stroke is made, only the player and his or her caddie may point out the player’s line of play, but with these limitations:
• The player or caddie may touch the putting green with a hand, foot or anything he or she is holding, but must not improve the conditions affecting the stroke in breach of Rule 8.1a, and
• The player or caddie must not set an object down anywhere on or off the putting green to show the line of play. This is not allowed even if that object is removed before the stroke is made.
While the stroke is being made, the caddie must not deliberately stand in a location on or close to the player’s line of play or do anything else (such as pointing out a spot or creating a shadow on the putting green) to point out the line of play.
Exception – Caddie Attending Flagstick: The caddie may stand in a location on or close to the player’s line of play to attend the flagstick.
(3) No Setting Down Object to Help in Taking Stance. A player must not take a stance for the stroke using any object that was set down by or for the player to help in lining up his or her feet or body, such as a club set down on the ground to show the line of play.
If the player takes a stance in breach of this Rule, he or she cannot avoid penalty by backing away from the stance and removing the object.
(4) Restriction on Caddie Standing Behind Player. When a player begins taking a stance for the stroke and until the stroke is made:
• The player’s caddie must not deliberately stand in a location on or close to an extension of the line of play behind the ball for any reason.
• If the player takes a stance in breach of this Rule, he or she cannot avoid penalty by backing away.
Exception – Ball on Putting Green: When the player’s ball is on the putting green, there is no penalty under this Rule if the player backs away from the stance and does not begin to take the stance again until after the caddie has moved out of that location.

See Rules 22, 23 and 24 (in forms of play involving partners, a player’s partner and the partner’s caddie may take the same actions (with the same limitations) as the player’s caddie may take under Rules 10.2b(2) and (4)).
(5) Physical Help and Protection from Elements. A player must not make a stroke:
• While getting physical help from his or her caddie or any other person, or
• With his or her caddie or any other person or object deliberately positioned to give protection from sunlight, rain, wind or other elements.
Before the stroke is made, such help or protection is allowed, except as prohibited in Rules 10.2b(3) and (4).
This Rule does not prohibit the player from taking his or her own actions to protect against the elements while making a stroke, such as by wearing protective clothing or holding an umbrella over his or her own head.

Penalty for Breach of Rule 10.2: General Penalty.

Taking what the correspondent described, I am assuming that the Girl and her Dad were competing in the same competition as fellow competitors and not partners, if so, this will be interpreted as:

1. ‘On one hole she asked her dad if she should use her 6 iron’. General penalty of 2 strokes to the Girl for asking for advice.

2. ‘I did not see if he then gave any visible indication (a nod or similar)’. If he did then he would receive 2 penalty strokes for giving advice.

3. ‘On another hole the parent reminded her to take account of the wind’. Parent receives 2 stroke penalty for giving advice. The Girl does not get a penalty because she did not ask for it, however she must endeavour to stop her Dad from offering advice, otherwise she is regarded as having asked for the advice and receives a 2-stroke penalty each time. Difficult for her at her age and it being her Dad giving the unsolicited advice, but Rules are rules, especially in competitions where you are competing against other players.

( I have also been made aware of Dads lining their children’s putts for them, which again carries the General Penalty if they are not playing partners or acting as caddies)

Note Rules of Golf Interpretation 10.2a/2

Player Must Try to Stop Ongoing Advice that Is Given Voluntarily
If a player gets advice from someone other than his or her caddie (such as a spectator) without asking for it, he or she gets no penalty. However, if the player continues to get advice from that same person, the player must try to stop that person from giving advice. If the player does not do so, he or she is treated as asking for that advice and gets the penalty under Rule 10.2a.
In a team competition (Rule 24), this also applies to a player who gets advice from a team captain who has not been named an advice giver.

With the following:

However, the following ten questions and statements, do incur a penalty of two strokes in stroke play, or loss of hole in match play, for the player asking for, or giving the advice:
“Do you think that an 8-iron will get me to the green?”
“Am I swinging too fast?”
“I think that this putt is dead straight, what do you think?”
“Should I try and play this ball out of the water hazard or take a penalty drop?”
“That was my 7-wood, what are you going to use?”
“Keep your head still as you putt.”
“You haven’t really got a shot; if I were you I’d declare your ball unplayable.”
“The wind is against us, you need at least one extra club.”
“Don’t use your driver here or you may end up in the water hazard.”

The answer is yes, the General Penalty would apply to either the player giving the advice or the player asking for it.

The same is true for:

Finally, there is one statement that many of us regularly use but probably shouldn’t if the Rule on Advice is very strictly interpreted. When a fellow competitor’s putt just lips out and he goes charging up to the hole to tap it in we should try and refrain from saying ……….… “Take your time”

Otherwise someone could have stopped Rory, in the first round of the Open 2019, rushing his tap-in putt and he would have been there, playing on the weekend.

A final point is that if this ‘giving or asking for advice situation’ continues during a round then the players should be disqualified from the competition and if their actions persist into other competitions, then the Committee would have every right to suspend them from entering competitions for a period of time determined by the Committee. They would obviously require third-party evidence of this happening.

I know this is a little long-winded, but I hope it clarifies the situation of asking for or giving advice from a player, other than a playing partner

Tony

Email: tony@my-golf.uk

Rules Blog: www.my-golf.uk

Submitting Non-qualifying Away Scores.

Reporting Non-qualifying Away Scores.

Some players seem a little concerned about England Golf’s decision to enforce CONGU Clauses 4.5b and 8.12 of the CONGU Unified Handicapping System and the effect it may have on their handicap.
– Clause 4.5b allows the Union to require a player to return to the Home Club information regarding scores in Non-Qualifying Competitions as provided by Clause 8.12.
– Clause 8.12 states that the player must provide to his Home Club information regarding scores in Non-qualifying Competitions.

In a statement made by Gemma Hunter, Handicap and Course Rating Manager of England Golf, players should not be overly concerned because the submission of theses away scores do not impact directly on their handicap.

The reason for making players submit these away scores is to gather evidence on the performance of players playing Competitions away from their home club.

Over recent years, England Golf has been aware of a number of cases of players who protect inflated handicaps, only to repeatedly collect high-value rewards when playing in competitions away from home and at this stage it is
purely an information gathering exercise to provide clubs with evidence to support handicap reviews.

The ruling has been introduced for members of English golf clubs to stop what England Golf calls rogue players manipulating the system to their advantage.

Because it is difficult to identify individual players the new stipulation requires that everyone playing in non-qualifying competitions away from home must return their scores to their home club. Players who ignore this responsibility could even have their handicap suspended.

England Golf has introduced this clause of the CONGU handicapping system to provide clubs with evidence to support handicap reviews.

The new system will highlight players who, for example, take part in as many competitions as possible at home and whose handicaps creep up 0.1 on every occasion – but who repeatedly win prizes away from home. Similarly, it will
show up the players who play the bare minimum of competitions at home, but who are known for their away successes.’

Following a Continuous Assessment Report or an Annual Review, if there is suspicion over a player’s handicap and known playing ability then looking at a player’s submitted Non -qualifying scores may provide evidence that her/his current Handicap is not a true reflection of their playing ability and a Handicap adjustment is justified.

The new rule applies to all stroke play scores returned under competition conditions, including team events.
Individual scores or Team results must be returned in all Singles, Am-Am and 4BBB with the exception of Texas Scrambles, Foursomes and Greensome competitions, or casual social rounds.

Another comment by Gemma Hunter, states, “We’re not talking about a sleeve of balls. These are big prizes including luxury trips overseas, sets of clubs and electric trolleys. It’s essential to do this to protect the integrity of the system. We can’t sit back and let people manipulate the system, but without evidence clubs can’t take any action.

It’s not about recording every score in a Fourball Better Ball but returning the team score.

If the same individuals or teams keeping winning or coming near the top of leader boards at events away from home, that should at least indicate to their club’s handicapping officials that further investigations are required – and the only way to achieve that is by asking for all the scores
to be reported.

Social golf is not affected, but clubs are advised to be aware of performances in swindles which the handicap committee could take into account at the annual review.

England Golf also recommends that clubs which run non-qualifying open competitions should inform the prize winners’ home clubs of their scores.”

Individual scores or Team results must be returned in all Singles, Am-Am and 4BBB with the exception of Texas Scrambles, Foursomes and Greensome competitions, or casual social rounds, failure to return these scores by the
player could result in loss or suspension of handicap under clause 24.1.

If and when the New world Handicap System comes into operation these non-qualifying scores should be recorded automatically and rogue players identified by the Handicap Software ‘factoring in memory of demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control’, which means it will pick up players whose recorded scores may indicate a playing ability different from that expected from their handicap, either better or worse.

You can download a copy of England Golf’s Recording of Non-qualifying Scores by clicking on the download button below:

You can download a copy of England Golf’s Reporting Non-Qualifying Scores Q&A by clicking on the download button below:

So enjoy your golf, but play fair and help root out these bandits.

Tony

Email: tony@my-golf.uk

Rules of Golf Blog: my-golf.uk

Can Shotgun Starts be Run as Qualifying Competitions?

I received a question recently as to the status of Shotgun Starts and whether they could be run as Qualifying Competitons for Handicap Purposes

Under the Rules of Golf, a Committee is at liberty to set any teeing ground where a player will start her/his round and can stipulate the order in which holes are to be played in that round, so covering split tee starts and shotgun
starts.

Under the CONGU Unified Handicap System Decision 1(g) Shotgun Starts may be played as Qualifying Competitions so long as the course being played conforms to Competition Playing Conditions

Definition: Competition Play Conditions
Competition Play Conditions prevail during Stroke Play, Par/Bogey and Stableford competitions over 18 holes and for competitions played over a Designated Nine-Hole Course under the Rules of Golf from Competition Tees.
Competition Play Conditions shall not prevail when the length of the course played varies by more than 100 yards (91 metres) from the length of the Measured Course.
Note 1: Special rules apply when the length of a Measured Course has been temporarily reduced or increased – see Clause 13.
Note 2: Special rules apply to Nine-Hole Qualifying Competitions – see Clause 22.

Decision: Dec.1(g) Status of a competition in which shotgun starts are employed or competitors are authorised by the Committee to start other than at the first tee.
Competitions in which competitors are authorised by the Committee to commence play elsewhere than from the first tee will be Qualifying Competitions for handicap purposes provided all other requirements of the
UHS are satisfied. This includes ‘Shotgun Starts’.

So the answer is yes, Shotgun Competitons can be organised as Qualifying Competitions.