Guidance on Running a Competition

Stroke Index

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.