The Committee should draw up a list for each course (Rule 33-4), called the Stroke Index,
giving the order of holes at which any handicap strokes awarded should be taken. This order
should be printed on the Club’s score card.
Traditionally there has been no one basic principle for fixing the order of the Stroke Index.
Some have based it on match play where Stroke Index 1 is assigned to the hole at which it is
most likely to be needed, whereas others have based it on stroke play, allocating the holes in
the order at which it is considered most difficult to achieve par. There are also those who have
merely based it upon a mathematical formula and some separate the stroke index for match
play and stroke play.
However, certain other factors have always been taken into consideration. The very early or
very late holes should not be assigned to a low Stroke Index. The reason being that if a game
were to finish all square and the players were required to go on to the 19th and subsequent
holes to determine the winner, a player in receipt of very few strokes would gain an unfair
advantage if he were to receive a stroke at the 19th or 20th. Similarly, if a low Stroke Index
were assigned to a hole at the very end of the round, a player in receipt of very few strokes
may not have the opportunity to use them as the game may be over by that stage. In general,
therefore, Stroke Index 1 to 4 should not be on holes 1, 2, 17 or 18, or at courses where
matches are likely to start at the 10th hole, holes 8, 9, 10 or 11.
The other important factor to be taken into account in fixing the order of the Stroke Index is
that the strokes should be fairly evenly spread out over the 18 holes. If Stroke Index 1 is in the
first 9 holes, Stroke Index 2 should be in the second 9 holes and so on.