Guidance on Running a Competition


The Rules of Golf do not legislate for the allocation and adjustment of handicaps and The R&A does not administer any handicapping scheme. Such matters are within the jurisdiction of the National Union, Federation or Association of the country where the competition is being played and any queries concerning handicapping should be directed accordingly.

When a competition is played on the basis of handicap, it is a matter for the Committee to specify the handicap allowance for the form of play being used. The National Union, Federation or Association, as part of their handicapping system, may give guidance on allowances for the various forms of play and procedures for competitions. However, where a Club has affiliation to a National Union that chooses to make such allowances mandatory, the Club should abide by these, having effectively deferred its right to determine such conditions to the National Union.

In all handicap stroke calculations, a fraction of one half or more counts as a full stroke; any other fractions are disregarded.

In match play competitions that extend over a period of time, the Committee should establish in the conditions whether the handicap current at the beginning of the competition or the beginning of each match would apply. The latter is more usual. In a stroke play play-off, the handicap applicable to the last round (rather than the handicap at the time of the play-off) should apply and the conditions should make this clear. In 36-hole stroke play competitions it is recommended that handicaps are not altered during the event.

In handicap match play competitions over 36 holes, strokes should be given on the basis of two 18-hole rounds in accordance with the 18-hole Stroke Index unless the Committee introduces a special Stroke Index.

In general, a player receiving handicap strokes will take them in the order assigned on the score card. For example, if a player with a handicap of 14 receives three strokes from a player with a handicap of 11, he will receive these strokes on the holes allocated the first three handicap strokes.