Cheating in Golf

Hi,

I hope you are able to get out and enjoy lots of golf now that the weather is better and more settled.

It would appear that many of you are organising and entering Open Competitions and I have been informed of some suspicious actions by players during a round.

I have received several emails asking for my advice on how to deal with cheating in Golf.

Perhaps your initial feeling is that you cannot tolerate it and the offender should be disciplined and kicked out of the Club.

But, because of the repercussions of accusing a player of cheating, you need to keep a level-head and carefully assess your approach before you do anything.

What follows are my own ideas on how to approach cheating.

You may not agree with them but I feel they will allow you to deal with a situation without affecting your round, enjoyment of your game or relationship with your playing partner.

A central principle of the game of golf is that players play by the Rules and in the spirit of the game; it makes the game more enjoyable for everyone.

According to studies by the National Golf Foundation, approximately 90% of golfers claim that they play by the rules. So why are there still lots of golfers that sweep away two-footers , improve a lie or take extra tee-shots and don’t add extra strokes?

This is because, basically, although there are players who will always cheat, there are a number of players who don’t even really know they are cheating. So, instead of berating them for it, you should extend them the benefit of the doubt that they are unaware of the cheating – don’t go full pelt into disciplinary action but use the moment to teach them.

You could simply say, ‘You know you’re not supposed to do that?’ and generally, many will thank you for your input and change their behaviour. However, if this isn’t the case and they continue to play the same way, then you simply never play with them again.

Calculate the costs of your actions and always act with a level head. 

Golf is seen by many as not just a fun pastime, but also a social event. So, any accusations of cheating in golf can have implications that go way beyond the golfing green. You may accuse a golfer of cheating on the fairway – and then be expected to have a meal and drinks with him/her later… maybe with partners and children.

If the match is of low importance and no one is really losing out greatly by the cheating – and making accusations can cause difficult situations in the future, then it might simply be best just to let things slide. However, if it’s a tournament or important competition, then it’s different. So, are you playing for high stakes or low stakes, or is there more to lose than gain by confrontation?

Calculate what your accusation may cost overall and work out whether it’s worth it.

So, what advice can I offer you?

In 2016, before the New Rules of Golf were introduced in 2019, it was advocated that all Clubs should have both a Code of Conduct and Pace-of-play Policy in place and in the public domain. Unfortunately, not every Club followed the advice.

A policy would provide a reference for players and visitors as to what kind of behaviour was expected from them and, should a player or visitor be guilty of misconduct, a reference to why they were considered to have been in breach of the Code of Conduct and what penalties they might face.

Rule 1.2 is an important Rule in the Rules of Golf as it details the conduct that is expected of all players and what is meant by spirit of the game but on its own it is weak and can be difficult to impose.

There is no penalty under the Rules for failing to act in this way, except that the Committee may under Rule 1.2a, disqualify a player for serious misconduct for acting contrary to the spirit of the game. This applies whether, or not, there is a Code of Conduct in place for a competition.

When considering whether a player is guilty of serious misconduct, the Committee should consider whether the player’s action was intentional and whether the act was significant enough to warrant disqualification without first giving a warning and/or applying other penalties when a Code of Conduct is in place

A Committee, or individual, should also be mindful of a person’s reputation and the far-reaching effects of an accusation outside of the golf course or Golf Club.

Any accuser or attestor to an incident must be 100% certain of the facts, it is no use just having a suspicion.

Examples of actions that could warrant disqualification under Rule 1.2a and further guidance on what is meant by serious misconduct, can be found in Interpretation 1.2a/1.

However, a Committee may set its own standards of player conduct in a Code of Conduct adopted as a Local Rule.

See Committee Procedures, Section 5H (explaining the standards of player conduct that may be adopted).

Penalties other than disqualification may be imposed for player misconduct only if those penalties are adopted as part of a Code of Conduct under Rule 1.2b.”

A suggested Code of Conduct Policy is available on my Website, click on the link below:

Code of Conduct Policy • Getting to Grips with the Rules of Golf and Handicapping (my-golf.uk)

Also for consideration is an example Pace-of-play policy available by clicking on the link below.:

Sample Pace of Play Policy • Getting to Grips with the Rules of Golf and Handicapping (my-golf.uk)

Summary

So, in summary, some points that come to mind, for consideration when it comes to suspecting an individual, or group of individuals, of breaching Rules are, in no particular order:

  1. Cheating is a matter of fact it has always gone on and always will with some individuals, professional or amateur.
  2. You must be 100% certain of your facts, be careful to avoid using the word ’cheat’
  3. A mere suggestion could have serious repercussions outside the Golf Course for the ‘guilty’ party, the accuser and the Golf Club
  4. If only a suspicion that an individual is breaching a rule, keep a close eye on them but do not call them out until you have definite evidence.
  5. Is the misdemeanour serious or just a minor infraction?
  6. Is the infringement intentional or accidental?
  7. Could a player handle the situation without resorting to informing a Committee, better this way if it can be done?
  8. Try to use any trespasses as a means of education and avoid any confrontations.
  9. Depending on the status of the competition, if 100% certain of a breach of the Rules, call the player out immediately or could you leave it until you get to the clubhouse and talk it over with him/her. Picking a player up on his/her behaviour may cause an atmosphere for the rest of your round.
  10. Again, depending on the status of the competition, impose a penalty there and then or just give them a reminder of their actions and the correct procedure to follow.
  11. If the individual is a persistent offender or the offence considered really serious, then, having called them out during a round, refuse to mark their scorecard, inform the committee of both your and the player’s actions and let the Committee handle the situation.
  12. Ensure the committee has a sound policy in place for dealing with disciplinary actions.

There is also some advice on My Golf website on how to discipline a member, click on the link below to read more:

How to Discipline a Member (or Visitor). • Getting to Grips with the Rules of Golf and Handicapping (my-golf.uk)

There may be a few more observations that you can think of and I would like to hear them from you, but I hope you find these helpful at the moment.

Enjoy your Golf

Tony

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.

Slow Play – Pace of Play – Ready Golf

Slow Play – Pace of Play – Ready Golf

Now we all know how frustrating a slow round of golf can be and are always ready to blame players or a group in front of us, but player behaviour may not always be the reason for Slow Play.

The R&A and USGA have championed the use of Ready Golf in order to deter Slow Play and many Golf Clubs are following their recommendation in the misguided belief that it will encourage golfers to play more frequently, attract more individuals to play golf and overnight turn round their falling revenues.

I do not see how the R&A and USGA can continue to promote this action when their own findings from their Pace of Play Global Survey (2015) clearly demonstrated that Player behaviour did not play a major part in increasing the  time to play a round of golf.

Their Global Survey clearly showed:

  1. That less than 18% of golfers said Slow Play prevented them from playing more frequently
  2. Over 75% of golfers said they had no issues with Slow Play and did not feel it affected their membership or impacted greatly on the Pace of Play

Meaning that Player Behaviour was not a major factor in increasing the Pace of Play of a round of golf.

What the R&A and USGA did find from their Global Survey, and I do not know why they are not asking Clubs to put these issues to the top of a Pace of Play agenda was that the three major factors affecting Pace of Play were:

  1. Overcrowding the Golf Course
  2. Course Set Up
  3. Course Management

Many policies that Golf Clubs have already in place create a slow pace of play even before a golfer has teed up his/her ball on the first tee.

Surely Clubs must be encouraged to address these issues if they want to thrive and improve revenues, rather than covering them up by blaming player behaviour for the problem – which Ready Golf only emphasises.

Ready Golf as it is being introduced at the moment, like the previous ‘keep up with the group in front’, will not work alone.

To have any effect it will require marshalling, which is expensive both in time and manpower and the need to have a strict pace of Play Policy in place so that players, both members and visitors, know what is expected of them out on the course or in a competition.

You can browse the R&A  Pace of Play Manual by following the link below:

https://www.randa.org/pace-of-play/manual

or download a copy of the R&A Pace of Play Manual by clicking on the download button below:

You can link to an example of a Pace of Play Policy, from where you can also download a copy, by clicking on the link below:

Sample Pace of Play Policy – Getting to Grips with the Rules of Golf and Handicapping (my-golf.uk)

VIDEO:

Click on the link below to view a video featuring Andrew Coltart and John E Morgan providing advice on how Pace of Play can be improved:

How you can improve Pace of Play – Sky Sports Video

 

 

Update to CONGU Mixed Tee Handicap Calculator – Version 1.10

New Release of CONGU Mixed Tee Handicap Calculator

 

CONGU have just released an updated version 1.10 of CONGU Mixed Tee Handicap Calculator, which corrects an error noted for 9-hole individual match play.

Please click on the Button below to download a copy:

Team Formats of Play: Best of 3

Team Formats of Play: Best of 3

The WHS recommended stroke allowances does not cover advice on ‘Best of’ 3-ball teams.

I have updated the Handicap Allowances Document to include the following recommendations from CONGU:

The following stroke allowances should be used:


Best 1 of 3

Best 2 of 3 All 3 of 3
70% 85%

100%

You can download a copy of the document by clicking on the Download Button below:

 

Enjoy your golf, but for those of you who cannot play at the moment stay patient until the day is announced that you can return to playing golf safely.

Best wishes

Tony

Addendum to Last Post on Whether to Record Gross Score against Course or Player Handicap

Addendum to Last Post on Recording Gross Score against Course or Player Handicap

A reader commented on my mention of Stableford and Maximum Score formats relating to England Golf and not other jurisdictions.

I must thank him for bringing it to my attention and hope I have not caused any confusion for anyone.

The reason I mentioned that my comments related to England is that, although I do try and advise on all jurisdictions (worldwide) I do concentrate on England and have to remember that some of my readers are from other countries and I could easily confuse them if I don’t qualify some of my points.

Although the WHS is supposed to be worldwide, not all of its features have been adopted by some Countries.

My comments therefore on Stableford and Maximum Score formats do also apply to Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

However, unlike England, Scotland and Wales, it is Ireland’s intention to trial the inclusion of some match play events into handicapping and to also include some Four Ball Better-Ball scores in situations where the returned scores are better than a target expectation for this format of play.

Where scores returned in match play or four-ball formats are Acceptable Scores there is a need for calculating a ‘Most Likely Score’ when a player starts a hole but does not hole out.

So in Ireland, when using a ‘Most Likely Score’ a player must still bear in mind the score that would be recorded compared to a Net Double Bogey against their Course Handicap.,

NOTE: This will not be in use for the rest of GB&I, although it is part of the WHS and in use in the rest of the world.

Something, no doubt, England Golf will review that situation in the future.

Golf Ireland will issue details of the inclusion of match play and 4BBB in due course, but at the moment these formats are not acceptable in England or Scotland.

Hope this clears things up.

Sorry, however, if I did manage to confuse you.

Tony

WHS – Do I Record on My Scorecard, the Number of Strokes Taken Based on My Course Handicap or My Playing Handicap?

WHS – Do I Record on My Scorecard, the Number of Strokes Taken Based on My Course Handicap or My Playing Handicap?

Well while we, in GB&I, find ourselves in Golf Lockdown again, some golf is being played around the world and I am receiving both Rules of Golf and World Handicap System queries, which is why I have not posted anything yet on Mixed Tee Competitions as promised.

While England Golf struggles with teething problems over the introduction of the WHS the 4-week lockdown may give them some respite and time to sort things out before we get back to playing golf with a vengeance.

I recently received a query from a reader to which I could provide a straight forward answer but which also raised a point with the New World Handicap System that many players may not be aware.

Unlike the previous CONGU Qualifying Rounds, which were played off Full Handicap, under the the WHS there are occasions when acceptable rounds will be played off a percentage of a Course Handicap and you must be aware of both your Course Handicap and your Playing Handicap  in the same round so that you ‘do not pick up before you run out of strokes, according to your Course Handicap’

Now this goes against the teachings of improving the Pace of Play, but is a necessary action under the WHS when competitions are being played for Handicap purposes.

The R&A will no doubt have to reconsider Rule 21 in the light of the WHS and remove the wording ‘To help pace of play, players are encouraged to stop playing a hole when their score will result in zero points.’ for Stableford Formats and ‘To help pace of play, players are encouraged to stop playing a hole when their formats. score has reached the maximum’, for Maximum Score formats.

All will, I hope be revealed below.

The question was:

‘In a Stableford qualifying competition, do I record on my card, the number of strokes taken based on my course handicap or my playing handicap for the competition?’

My answer was:

You record your Gross Score for each hole, and you should base it on your Course Handicap not your Playing Handicap for the reasons which I will give below.

  1. Under the Rules of Golf ,you must record your gross score for each hole, whatever the competition format, it is the score that you enter into your Golf Club’s Handicap Computer.

The Course Handicap, calculated from your Handicap Index and your Course’s Slope Rating, replaces your CONGU Handicap, and could be considered to be one and the same. It is this Handicap that dictates if any Adjustments to Hole scores need to be made for Handicap purposes.

The Playing Handicap is your Handicap for a particular competition depending on the format being played and is the number of strokes you actually receive for that round and is the one you use, in the case of a Stableford Competition, to calculate your points for each hole and the one that your Club’s Handicap System will use to calculate your points for each hole for a competition result.

  1. Under the new World Handicap System, there are a couple of points that you need to be aware of that can influence your play of a hole, especially if you think you are unable to score on a particular hole and decide to pick your ball up.
  • Your Playing Handicap may be a percentage of your Course Handicap and not its full value, e.g. in an Individual Stableford your Playing Handicap will be reduced to 95%.
  • For scores being submitted for Handicap Purposes, your Adjusted Gross Score for a competition is used in your Handicap Index calculation. There is a maximum score that can be accepted for each hole this is a Net Double Bogey, and this is applied by the WHS, when you submit your score, based on your Course Handicap.
  • If you fail to score on a hole or complete the play of a hole the WHS will award you a Net Double Bogey for that hole.

This last point is an important one because you must ensure that by having a Net Double Bogey recorded for not completing the hole does not award you a score higher than if you had completed the hole.

This is relevant especially when a Handicap Allowance for a particular format reduces your Playing Handicap or a Committee sets a Maximum Score for each hole.

An example would probably better illustrate my point.

Caroline has a Handicap Index of 20.1

She is playing an Individual Stableford Competition on her home course from the Red Tees which have a Course Rating of 72.8, a Par of 72 and a Slope Rating of 126

Caroline’s Course Handicap (in GB&I) is: 22

The Handicap Allowance for an Individual Stableford is 95% which adjusts her Playing Handicap to: 21

From this Playing Handicap Caroline will receive one stroke on holes with Stroke Index 4 -18 and two strokes on each of holes with Stroke Index 1, 2 and 3.

Caroline is playing well but on Hole 6, a Par 4 with Stroke Index 4, where she receives 1 stroke in this competition, she runs into a bit of trouble and after just missing a putt for a 6, decides to pick up and record a 0 at that hole, because she is out of shots for that hole according to her Playing Handicap.

Hole 6 is a hole on which she would in general play have received 2 strokes, but off 95% of her Course Handicap now only receives 1 Stroke.

This would be all right for the result of the competition, but for Handicap Purposes the WHS would record a Net Double Bogey of 8 for her not completing play of the hole, working from her Course Handicap.

This would in fact be one more stroke than if she had putted out and completed play of the hole.

It would therefore have been better for Caroline to putt out and record a 7, recording one stroke less for handicap purposes.

Many players will not fully appreciate the importance of continuing beyond the maximum hole score to reach their NDB score on a given hole.

So remember  in England when playing Stableford or Maximum Score Formats you need to keep an eye on your scoring against your Course Handicap and not just your Playing Handicap or the Maximum Score for a Hole.

Think before you pick up and record a Net Double Bogey or a Zero on your scorecard.

This can be a little confusing to begin with, but just keep your wits about you.

This situation obviously does not occur in General Play, when no Handicap Allowances apply and  you are playing off your Course Handicap

Have fun and

Enjoy your golf as soon as it is allowed

Best wishes and stay safe

Tony

Practising Before a Nine-Hole Competition.

Practising Before a Nine-Hole Competition.

This is an interesting point and one which may be discussed for a time to come.

As an example, on a day when a 9-Hole Stableford is due to be played on Holes 1-9 of a golf course, a group of players wonder if they could play 18 Holes starting on the 10th Tee and then play in the 9-Hole Competition which states on the 1st Tee.

Under the 2019 Rules of Golf, Rule 5.2b, this is not allowed.

“Practising on the course” means playing a ball, or testing the surface of the putting green of any hole by rolling a ball or rubbing the surface.

And,

On the day of a stroke-play competition:

  • A player must not practise on the course before a round, except that the player may practise putting or chipping on or near his or her first teeing area and practise on any practice area.

The group would be deemed as practising on the course before a stroke Play Competition.

Note: This also applies to 9-hole Supplementary Scores.

The fact that the competition will only be run over Holes 1-9 is irrelevant because the course is the whole area within boundaries set by the Club or Committee.

If the designated 9 Holes are within those boundaries then any play on other holes within the same boundaries will be deemed as practising on the Competition Course.

See Definitions of Course and Round.

Course

See Model Local Rule 1-1.2

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.