Section

5A

Committee Procedures
Setting the Terms of the Competition
Committee Procedures
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Section 5
Section 5B
5A
Setting the Terms of the Competition

Terms of the Competition determine the structure of each competition including who may enter, how to enter, what the schedule and format of the competition will be and how ties will be decided. It is the responsibility of the Committee to:

  • Set clear and concise terms for each competition.
  • Make these terms available to players in advance of the competition.
  • Interpret the terms should any questions arise.

Other than in exceptional circumstances, the Committee should avoid altering the Terms of the Competition once the competition has started .

It is the responsibility of each player to know and follow the Terms of the Competition.

Sample wording of Terms of the Competition can be found at RandA.org.

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Eligibility

The Committee may make Terms of the Competition that restrict who is eligible to play in the competition.

Gender Requirements

A competition may be limited to players of a specific gender.

Age Limits

A competition may be limited to players within a specific age range. If so, it is important to specify the date on which the players must be of age . Some examples are:

  • For a junior competition where players must not be older than 18, the Terms of the Competition might state that a player must be 18 or younger on the first day of the year or another date such as the final scheduled day of the competition.
  • For a senior competition where players must be 55 or older, the Terms of the Competition might state that a player must have reached his or her 55th birthday on or before the first day of the competition.

Amateur or Professional Status

A competition may be limited to just amateurs, just professionals or allow all players. When a competition is open to anyone, the Committee should ensure that amateurs properly identify themselves and waive their right to any prize money in advance of the competition.

Handicap Limits

The Committee may set restrictions and/or limits on the handicaps eligible for entry or use in a competition. These may include:

  • Setting upper or lower limits on handicaps.
  • In team formats, such as Foursomes or Four-Ball:
    • Limiting the maximum difference between partners’ handicaps. The Committee may also choose to reduce the handicap for the player with the higher handicap to meet the requirement, or
    • Limiting the maximum total handicaps of partners. The Committee may also choose to reduce the handicap for one or both players to meet the requirement.
  • For a competition that is played over multiple rounds during which a player’s handicap may change, specifying whether each player will play the entire competition with the handicap as at the first day of the competition or if the player will use his or her revised handicap for each round.

Residence and Membership Status

The Committee may limit entry to players who reside in or were born in a specific county, state, country or other geographic area . It may also require that all players are members of a specific club, organization or golf union.

 
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Entry Requirements and Dates

The way to enter the competition and the starting and ending dates for entry should be specified.

Examples include:

  • Method of entry, such as completing an online entry form, returning an entry form by mail or entering names on a sheet any time before the player's start time.
  • How and when any entry fee is to be paid.
  • When entries must be received. The Committee can stop accepting entries on a specific date or allow players to enter up to the day of the event.
  • The procedure to be used in determining the field when the competition is oversubscribed, such as accepting entries in the order received, through a qualifier or based on lowest handicaps.
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Format, Including Handicap Allowance

The following points in relation to the format of the competition should be specified where required:

  • Dates of play or, if it is a match play event over a long period of time, the final date by which each match must be completed.
  • Form of play (for example, match play, stroke play or stroke play going into match play).
  • Number and order of holes in a round.
  • Number of rounds, including whether there will be a cut.
  • If there is to be a cut, when it will be made, if ties for the final position will be broken and how many players will continue play in later rounds.
  • Which teeing areas are to be used.
  • Stroke index allocation, such as the order of holes at which handicap strokes are to be given or received.
  • If there will be multiple flights or draws and how they will be organized, see Section 5F(1).
  • What prizes will be awarded (including any eligibility restrictions). For competitions involving amateur golfers, the Committee should ensure that prizes for those amateurs are in line with those allowed under the Rules of Amateur Status and that amateurs waive in advance their right to cash prizes or prizes which may exceed the limits.
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Terms for Other Forms of Play

Alternative Scoring Methods

When the form of play is Stableford, Maximum Score or Par/Bogey, the Terms of the Competition may need to specify certain aspects in relation to how points will be scored, or the maximum number of strokes that a player can score on each hole.

Stableford

Stableford is a form of stroke play where points are awarded to a player for each hole by comparing the player's score to the fixed target score for the hole. The fixed target score is par unless the Committee sets a different fixed score (see Rule 21.1b).

If the Committee decides to set a different fixed target score, it may set it in the Terms of the Competition as bogey, birdie, or some other fixed score.

Maximum Score

When the form of play is Maximum Score, the Terms of the Competition should specify the maximum number of strokes a player can score on each hole (see Rule 21.2).

The maximum may be set in one of the following ways:

  • Relative to par, such as two times par,
  • A fixed number, such as 8, 9 or 10, or
  • With reference to the player's handicap, for example net double bogey.

When considering what maximum to set for a Maximum Score competition, the Committee should consider the following:

  • The maximum par for the holes being played. For example, for a par 3 course it may be appropriate to set the maximum score per hole to be a fixed score of 6; however if there are par 5's on a course then it would not be appropriate to have a fixed score as low as 6.
  • The standard of the golfers taking part. For example, for a beginners' competition the maximum score should give the players a reasonable opportunity to complete the holes but be at a level to encourage players to pick up when they have had real difficulty on the hole.
  • Whether scores are to be submitted for handicapping purposes. Where the Committee wants a competition to count for handicapping purposes, the maximum hole score should not be set lower than net double bogey.

Par/Bogey

When the form of play is Par/Bogey, the Terms of the Competition should specify the fixed score against which the player's score on a hole is compared to determine whether the player wins or loses a hole. For a Par competition, the fixed score would normally be par, and for a Bogey competition the fixed score would normally be bogey (one over par).

Other Forms of Play

There are many other forms of play such as Scrambles and Greensomes. See Section 9 and/or RandA.org for more information on these and other forms of play.

Team Competitions

When the form of play involves a team competition, the Committee should consider if additional Terms of the Competition are required . Examples include:

  • Any restrictions on coaches or advice givers (see Model Local Rule Section 8H).
  • In match play:
    • If tied matches will be acceptable or if they must be played until a winner is determined.
    • The number of points awarded for winning or tying a match.
    • If some matches are completed while others cannot be completed on the arranged day due to poor light or weather, the Terms of the Competition should clarify how the completed and incomplete matches will be treated. For example, the Committee could count completed matches to stand as played and incomplete matches to be treated as a tie or replayed on a later date. Or, that all matches are to be replayed, and each team is free to alter its original team.
    • If any remaining matches will be played to a conclusion once a team has won the match or competition.
  • In stroke play:
    • The number of scores to count in each team's total score.
    • If the scores to be counted will be based on 18 holes or on a hole-by-hole basis.
  • How a tie in the overall competition will be decided, for example by a play-off, a method of matching scores or considering discarded scores.
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When Scorecard Has Been Returned

In stroke play, Rule 3.3b holds players responsible for ensuring the accuracy of their hole scores and promptly returning the scorecard to the Committee at the completion of the round.

The Committee should tell players where the scorecards should be returned, have someone available to resolve any potential issues the players might have with the Rules and validate the scores.

When possible, a quiet, private area should be provided for players to use in checking the validity of the scores on their scorecards, speaking with a member of the Committee, if needed, and returning their scorecards.

Specify When Scorecard Is Considered Returned

The Committee should specify when the scorecard is considered returned. Options include:

  • Defining the scoring area and allowing a player to make alterations on his or her scorecard up until he or she has left that scoring area. This would mean that, even if the player has handed the scorecard to a referee or recorder, changes could still be made while the player is in the area.
  • Providing a box for the player to deposit the scorecard, in which case it is considered returned as soon as the player places it in the box. This approach might not give a player as much protection from returning an incorrect scorecard, but it may be the best method when limited resources are available or many players are finishing at the same time (for example, when there is a shotgun start).

Requesting Players to Provide Other Information on Scorecards

The Committee may request that players assist the Committee by completing scorecard related tasks that are the Committee's responsibility. The Committee must not apply a penalty to a player under the Rules of Golf if he or she fails to comply with these requests or makes a mistake in doing so, but the Committee may provide a disciplinary sanction for a player who fails repeatedly to comply with such a request. For example, the Committee may ask players to:

  • Total the scores or, in a Four-Ball competition, determine the score that counts for the side.
  • Enter the points scored for each hole on the scorecard in Stableford.
  • Enter whether the hole was won, lost or tied in Par/Bogey.Enter specific details on the scorecard such as name, date and name of the competition.

Similarly, the Committee may request that players assist the Committee by entering their scores into a computer system at the end of the round, but a player should not be penalized under the Rules of Golf if he or she fails to comply with this request or makes a mistake in doing so. But the Committee may provide a disciplinary sanction, for example in a Code of Conduct, for a player who fails repeatedly to comply with such a request.

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How Ties Will Be Decided

In match play and stroke play, the Terms of the Competition can be used to alter the way in which ties are decided.

Match Play

If a match is tied after the final hole, the match is extended one hole at a time until there is a winner (see Rule 3.2a(4)), unless the Terms of the Competition state otherwise.

The Terms of the Competition should specify if the match may end in a tie or if the play-off method will differ from that specified in Rule 3.2a(4). Options include the following:

  • The match ends in a tie,
  • The match will be extended starting at a specific hole other than the first hole, or
  • There will be a play-off over a fixed number of holes (for example, 9 or 18 holes).

In a handicap match, the stroke index allocation as set by the Committee should be used to determine where handicap strokes should be given or received in extra holes unless the Terms of the Competition state otherwise.

A tie in a match should not be decided by a stroke-play play-off.

Stroke Play

The Terms of the Competition should specify whether a competition may end in a tie, or if there will be a play-off or matching of scorecards to determine the winner and other finishing positions.

A tie in stroke play should not be decided by a match.

Play-off in Stroke Play

If there is to be a play-off in stroke play, the Terms of the Competition should set the following:

  • When the play-off will be held, for example if it will start at a specific time, as soon as possible after the last group finishes or on a later date.
  • Which holes will be used for the play-off.
  • The number of holes over which the play-off will be played, for example, if it will be a hole-by-hole play-off or over a longer period such as 2, 4 or 18 holes, and what to do if it there is still a tie after that.
  • In the regular form of stroke play, if a play-off for a handicap competition is over fewer than 18 holes, the number of holes played should be used to determine the number of strokes to be deducted. For example, if a play-off is over one hole, one-eighteenth of the handicaps should be deducted from the scores for the play-off hole. Handicap stroke fractions should be applied in accordance with the rules or recommendations contained within the Handicap System operating in the local jurisdiction.
  • For play-offs for net competitions where the stroke index allocation is used, such as Four-Ball, Par/Bogey or Stableford competitions, handicap strokes should be applied during the play-off holes as they were assigned for the competition, using the stroke index allocation.
  • Players are only required to return a scorecard for the play-off if the Committee issues them to the players.

Matching Scorecards (Also Known as a Scorecard Count-Back)

If a play-off is not feasible or desired, the Terms of the Competition may specify that any ties will be decided by matching scorecards. Even when the winner of a competition is to be decided by a play-off, other positions in the competition may be decided by matching scorecards. The method of matching scorecards should also provide for what will happen if this procedure does not produce a winner.

One method of matching scorecards is to determine the winner based on the best score for the last round. If the tying players have the same score for the last round or if the competition consisted of a single round, determine the winner based on the score for the last nine holes, last six holes, last three holes and finally the 18th hole. If there is still a tie, then the last six holes, three holes and final hole of the first nine holes will be considered in turn. If the round is less than 18 holes, the number of holes used in matching scores may be adjusted.

If this process does not result in a winner, the Committee could consider the competition a tie, or alternatively could decide the winner by chance (such as tossing a coin).

Matching scorecards is also known as a card count-back or a scorecard play-off.

Additional Considerations:

  • If this method is used in a competition with a multiple tee start, it is recommended that the "last nine holes, last six holes, etc." are holes 10-18, 13-18, etc.
  • For net competitions where the stroke index allocation as set by the Committee is not used, such as individual stroke play, if the last nine, last six, last three holes scenario is used, one-half, one-third, one-sixth, etc. of the handicaps should be deducted from the score for those holes. Handicap stroke fractions should be applied in accordance with the rules or recommendations contained within the Handicap System operating in the local jurisdiction.
  • In net competitions where the stroke index allocation as set by the Committee is used, such as Four-Ball stroke play, Par/Bogey or Stableford competitions, handicap strokes should be applied consistently with how they were applied for the competition.
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When the Result of the Competition Is Final

It is important for the Committee to clarify in the Terms of the Competition when and how the result of the competition is final as this will affect how the Committee will resolve any Rules issues that occur after play is complete in both match play and stroke play (see Rule 20).

Match Play

Examples of when the Terms of the Competition may state that the result of a match is final include:

  • When the result is recorded on an official scoreboard or other identified place, or
  • When the result is reported to a person identified by the Committee.

When a match is determined to be final once the result is recorded on an official scoreboard, the Committee may take responsibility for recording the winner's name on the scoreboard or it may pass that responsibility to the players. In some cases the official scoreboard will be a prominent structure and in other cases it might be a sheet of paper in the golf shop or locker room.

In cases where a referee has been assigned by the Committee to accompany a match, any announcement of the result of the match by the referee on the final putting green is not the official announcement unless it was stated as such in the Terms of the Competition.

Stroke Play

Examples of when the Terms of the Competition may state the competition to be closed in stroke play include:

  • All results have been posted on the scoreboard or noticeboard,
  • The winners have been announced at a prize giving, or
  • The trophy has been awarded.

In stroke-play qualifying followed by match play, Rule 20.2e(2) stipulates that the stroke-play portion of the competition is closed when the player has teed off to start his or her first match.

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Changing Terms of the Competition After Competition Has Started

The Terms of the Competition set out the structure of the competition and once a competition has started, the terms may be altered only in very exceptional circumstances.

An example of a situation where the Terms of the Competition should not be altered:

  • Since players begin a round with the expectation that a certain number of holes will be played and may base their play on that, the number of holes to be played in a round should not be changed once that round has started. For example, if bad weather results in play being suspended after all the players have completed 9 holes of an 18-hole round, the Committee should not announce the results based on only 9 holes.

Examples of situations where there are exceptional circumstances and the Terms of the Competition may be altered:

  • If circumstances such as bad weather affect the number of rounds that can be played in the time available, the number of rounds to be played, or number of holes in any rounds not yet started, may be altered to accommodate the circumstances. Similarly, if those circumstances mean the planned format cannot be accommodated in the time available, the format of the competition may be changed.
  • The method for deciding ties should not be altered unless there are exceptional circumstances. For example, if the method of deciding a tie for a stroke-play competition was stated to be a hole-by-hole play-off, but bad weather meant such a play-off was not possible, the Committee can change the method of deciding the tie to a scorecard count-back.
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Anti-Doping

The Terms of the Competition may require players to comply with an anti-doping policy. It is a matter for the Committee to write and interpret its own anti-doping policy, although guidance in developing such a policy can usually be provided by the national governing body.