The R&A - Working for Golf
Scores Acceptable for Handicap Purposes
Handicapping
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2.1
a
b
2.2
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Rule 1
Rule 3

Principle of the Rule: 

The scores a player submits for handicap purposes are at the core of the calculation of their Handicap Index.

Rule 2 covers the conditions a score must satisfy for it to be acceptable for handicap purposes, providing confidence that it will produce reasonable evidence of the player’s ability and, ultimately, a Handicap Index that is reflective of demonstrated ability.

2.1
Acceptability of Scores

A score is acceptable for handicap purposes if the round has been played:

  • In an authorized format of play over at least the minimum number of holes required for either a 9-hole or an 18-hole score to be acceptable.
  • In the company of at least one other person, who may also act as a marker.
  • By the Rules of Golf
  • On a golf course with a current Course and Slope Rating, where length and normal playing difficulty is maintained at a consistent level
  • On a golf course during its active season
a
Played in an Authorized Format of Play

National Associations have the ability to select the formats of play that are acceptable for handicap purposes within their own jurisdiction, from an authorized list of formats.

Only individual 18-hole stroke play competitions and 18-hole Stableford competition formats are mandatory selections – but the list of authorized formats includes a combination of stroke play, match play, competition, general play, 9 and 18-hole formats.       

  1. Round Played Within a Player’s Jurisdiction. Subject the other provisions set out within the Rules of Handicapping, an acceptable score from an authorized format of play within a player’s home jurisdiction must be submitted for handicap purposes.  
  2. Round Played Outside a Player’s Jurisdiction. Subject to other provisions set out within the Rules of Handicapping:
    • A score from an authorized format of play within the jurisdiction where the round was played is acceptable for handicap purposes and must be submitted, even if the format of play is not authorized in a player’s home jurisdiction.
    • A score from a format of play that is unauthorized within the jurisdiction where the round was played, but is an authorized format of play within the player’s home jurisdiction, is acceptable for handicap purpose and must be submitted.
    • A score from a format of play that is unauthorized within both the jurisdiction where the round was played and within the player’s home jurisdiction is not acceptable for handicap purposes and must not be posted to the player’s scoring record.
b
Played by The Rules of Golf

A round must be played by the Rules of Golf to be acceptable for handicap purposes, subject to the following:  

  1. Organized Competitions. In a situation where a player is disqualified from a competition for a breach of the Rules of Golf, but no significant scoring advantage has been gained, the score should remain acceptable for handicap purposes.

     If a player is disqualified from a competition for any other breach of the Rules of Golf, the score is not acceptable for handicap purposes.

     The final determination is at the discretion of the Committee, based on the circumstances.

  2. General Play. When an organized competition is not being contested, a score is not acceptable for handicap purposes if the player:
    • Breaches the Rules of Golf and the correct penalty is not applied under the Rules of Golf, or
    • Deliberately ignores a Rule of Golf.
    Where a player follows the provisions set down in a Model Local Rule, even when the Committee in charge of the course has not adopted that Model Local Rule, the score may still be acceptable for handicap purposes. The same situation applies where a player is in breach of a Model Local Rule that has been adopted by the Committee. 
  3. Examples of situations relating to Model Local Rules where a score might be acceptable for handicap purposes include:

    • A player has proceeded under the alternative option to the stroke and distance relief procedure, despite this Model Local Rule not being in effect, or
    • The player has used a distance-measuring device despite the Model Local Rule prohibiting their use being in effect.

The final determination is at the discretion of the Committee, based on the circumstances.

2.2
Minimum Number of Holes Played for Score to be Acceptable
National Associations have discretion to decide how many holes must be played for both a 9-hole and an 18-hole score to be acceptable for handicap purposes.