The R&A - Working for Golf
Adjustment of Hole Scores
Handicapping
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3.1
a
b
3.2
3.3
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Rule 2
Rule 4

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
Adjustment of Hole Scores

 

3.1
Adjustment of Hole Scores
a
Before a Handicap Index has been Established

For a player submitting their first scores to obtain an initial Handicap Index, the maximum score for each hole played is limited to par + 5 strokes.

b
After a Handicap Index Has Been Established

For a player with an established Handicap Index, the maximum score for each hole is limited to net double bogey, calculated as follows:

Par of the hole + 2 strokes + Any handicap stroke(s) that the player receives on that hole

  • A net double bogey is equal to the lowest score on a hole for which the player would achieve zero Stableford points.
  • There is no limit to the number of holes in a round where a net double bogey adjustment may be applied.
  • If, in the Terms of the Competition (see Rule 7.2a) or the handicap allowances, there are any restrictions on the number of strokes received, this restricted Playing Handicap should only be used for the purpose of the competition, for example to determine the:
    • Finishing positions and prize winners, and
    • Number of strokes given or received for different formats of play.

      The player’s full, unrestricted Course Handicap should be used for all applications of net double bogey adjustments. For this procedure the Course Handicap is rounded to the nearest whole number (see Rule 6.1a/b).

  • Where a Course Handicap is calculated at more than 54 and a player receives 4 or more strokes on a hole, the maximum hole score is par + 5 for handicap purposes.
  • Adjusting a hole score to a net double bogey can be done either:
  • Automatically, when hole-by-hole score entry is used, or
  • By the player, when submitting an adjusted gross score for the round.
3.2
When a Hole is Not Played

There are various circumstances that may result in holes not being played, for example, due to:

  • Fading light or bad weather,
  • Player injury or illness,
  • A match finishing before the final hole, or
  • A hole declared out of play by the Committee for maintenance or reconstruction purposes.

A score may only be used for handicap purposes if, among other things, the round has been played over at least the minimum number of holes required for either a 9-hole or an 18-hole score to be acceptable.

Where the minimum number of holes has been completed which is less than 9 or 18 holes, and the reason for a player not playing a hole is valid, the player must scale up their score to produce either a 9 or 18-hole score.

If the reason for a player not playing a hole, or holes, is considered invalid, the Handicap Committee may consider applying a penalty score.

3.3
When a Hole is Started But Player Does Not Hole Out
When a player starts a hole but does not hole out for a valid reason, subject to other provisions set out in the Rules of Handicapping, the player must record their score as appropriate for the situation and depending on the format of play.