The R&A - Working for Golf
Adjustment of Hole Scores
Interpretations
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3.2
3.2
3.2/1
3.2/2
3.3
3.3
3.3/1

Principle of the Rule: 

A score for handicap purposes should not be overly influenced by one or two bad hole scores that are not reflective of a player’s demonstrated ability. In addition, incomplete scores and/or scores where a player did not hole out on every hole can provide reasonable evidence of the player’s ability and can be used for handicap purposes.

Rule 3 covers the circumstances where scores may be acceptable and how these hole scores should be adjusted.

3.2
When a Hole is Not Played
3.2/1
Invalid Reasons For Not Playing a Hole

Rule 3.2 describes what score to return for a hole that has not been played for a valid reason in order for an acceptable score to be submitted for handicap purposes.

 If it is determined that a player has not played a hole or holes for an invalid reason, the score will not be acceptable for handicap purposes. Invalid reasons include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Not playing a particular hole on a golf course because the player knows it usually causes them difficulty and they are likely to return a high hole score.
  • Not playing the final holes on a golf course in order to avoid submitting a high or low score.

In either case, the Handicap Committee could add a penalty score to the player’s scoring record, if it is determined that the player’s actions were for the purpose of gaining an unfair scoring advantage (see Rule 7.1b).

3.2/2
Designation of Score for Holes Not Played

The player must add a designation against any score returned that includes holes not played (see Appendix B, Note 5). This is to ensure that all of the procedures set out within the Rules of Handicapping can be carried out properly, for example the calculation of a Score Differential for a 9-hole score (see Rule 5.1b) and the calculation of any adjustment for abnormal playing conditions (see Rule 5.6).

Where hole-by hole scores are required, the player should add a designation against each hole not played.

3.3
When a Hole is Started But Player Does Not Hole Out
3.3/1
Clarification of the Meaning of Most Likely Score for Handicap Posting and When It Should Be Used

A most likely score is used to record a player’s probable score on a hole, when the hole has been started but the player did not hole out their ball. It should be a reasonable assessment of the number of strokes needed to complete the hole.

For example, in a Four-Ball match-play competition, a player’s partner holes their ball from off the putting green for three. The player’s ball lies 15 feet (5 metres) away from the hole in four strokes and the score for the side cannot be improved. To save time, the player may pick up and record a most likely score for handicap purposes.