Draw, Groups and Starting Times

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Draw, Groups and Starting Times
Draw, Groups and Starting Times

The Draw

In a match-play competition the draw is used to establish the overall order of matches and which players will make up each first-round match. The draw may be done in a number of ways including:
  • Randomly - Players are picked at random and placed in the draw as chosen.
  • Qualifying Scores - Players could play one or more qualifying rounds. The players are then placed into the draw based on their scores.
  • Handicap - Players could be placed in the draw by handicap so that the player with the lowest handicap plays the one with the highest in the first round, the second lowest against the second highest, and so on.
  • Seeding - Certain players, such as a defending champion, could be seeded into the draw in specific locations, while other players are placed either randomly or through qualifying scores.
The draw should be arranged so that the two highest seeded players are on opposite sides of the draw and so on down the line as shown in the following table. For purposes of determining places in the draw, ties in qualifying rounds other than those for the last qualifying place can be decided by:
  • The order in which scores are returned, with the first score to be returned receiving the lowest available number and so forth,
  • A scorecard play-off, or
  • A random draw among the players who are tied at a specific score.
When there is a tie for the final place in the draw, the Committee may choose to have a play-off or add another round of matches to reduce the field to an even number of players. This should be specified in the Terms of the Competition. In some events, the Committee may choose to seed the defending champion. When this is done, it is typical to seed the champion as either the first or second seed. The Committee should also decide if it will permit the champion to play in the qualifying event and, if so, he or she forfeits the seeding. Multiple Draws (also known as Flights or Divisions) While many competitions have all players competing against all the other players, there are times when a Committee can choose to divide the competition into multiple draws (sometimes called flights or divisions). This may be in order to have players of similar abilities compete against each other or in order to have multiple winners. The makeup of these draws may be determined by handicap, through qualifying or by another method determined by the Committee. The Committee should set out how the draws will be set up in the Terms of the Competition. While the draws may be set by handicap, there is no requirement that the resulting play within the draw be a handicap competition since all the players should be of relatively equal ability. In a match-play competition, it is a good idea to make the size of the draws so that it will not be necessary to give players byes and, ideally, a size that means all players will play the same number of matches in a knock-out format, such as 8, 16, 32, 64 or 128. If there are not enough players to fill the final draw, players should be given byes into the second round as needed. There is no requirement that all the draws have the same number of players. For example, the first or championship draw might have 32 players while the other draws might have 16.

Starting Times and Playing Groups

The Committee can set the starting times and groups or allow the players to set their own. When the Committee allows players to set their own starting time, it has the same status as a starting time set by the Committee (see Rule 5.3a). There are many considerations in determining the number of players in a group and the interval between groups. When setting starting times and groups, pace of play is an important consideration as well as the amount of time available for play. Groups of two will play faster than groups of three or four. Starting intervals can be closer together for smaller groups. When the Committee chooses to start players on multiple holes (such as holes 1 and 10), it is important to ensure that players will not have an excessive wait if they arrive at the other starting tee before the final group has started. When a match-play competition will be played over an extended period and players in a match are allowed to agree on when to play during that period, the Committee should:
  • Set a date and time by which each match must be completed.
  • Specify how the result of the match will be decided should the players fail to complete the match by the specified date, such as disqualifying both players or putting the player named first or second in the draw into the next round.
In match play, the Committee sets the draw showing who will play in each match or otherwise specifies how matches are to be determined. When it is possible it is best for each match to have its own starting time, but there may be times when two matches will be started together.


In stroke play, a player or side always needs to have someone other than the player or a member of the side to mark the scorecard. The Committee may specify or restrict who may act as the marker for each player by specifying that the marker must be a player in the same competition and group, a player with a handicap, or in some other way. In a format where two or more partners compete together as a side (for example, in a Foursomes or Four-Ball competition), they are not permitted to act as the side's marker. Where the number of sides for a partner format is not even, the Committee may need to find a marker for a side playing on its own or choose to have a group containing three sides.

Starting Areas

The Committee may define a specific area at or near the first teeing area where players must be present and ready to play at the starting time (see Rule 5.3a). This may be defined by painted lines on the ground, by ropes or in some other way.
Section 1The Role of the Committee
The Rules of Golf define the Committee as the person or group in charge of a competition or the course. The Committee is essential to the proper playing of the game. Committees have the responsibility of running the course on a day-to-day basis or for a specific competition and they should always act in ways that support the Rules of Golf. This part of the Official Guide to the Rules of Golf provides guidance to Committees in fulfilling this role. While many of the duties of a Committee are specific to running organized competitions, an important part of the Committee's duties relates to its responsibility for the course during general or every day play.
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