The R&A - Working for Golf
Scores Acceptable for Handicap Purposes
Interpretations
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2.1
2.1a
2.1a/1
2.1b
2.1b/1
2.1b/2
2.1b/3
2.1
2.1/1
2.1/2
2.1/3

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
2.1a
Played in an Authorized Format of Play
2.1a/1
Scores Not Acceptable for Handicap Purposes

Some formats of play and scores played under certain restricted Terms of the Competition are not acceptable for handicap purposes and must not be posted to a player’s scoring record.

The following illustrative list is not exhaustive and if a player is in doubt as to the acceptability of a score, it is recommended that they check with the golf club where they are playing or the Authorized Association.

2.1b
Played by The Rules of Golf
2.1b/1
Examples of When Player Has Been Disqualified From a Competition, But Gained No Significant Scoring Advantage

The Committee has the discretion to accept a score for handicap purposes if a player is disqualified from a competition, but no significant scoring advantage has been gained.

Examples of situations where a Committee may consider that no significant scoring advantage has been gained include:

Rule of Golf

Nature of Disqualification

Recommended Action for Handicap Purposes

3.3b(1)/(2)

Scorecard not signed

Accept score

3.3b(2)

Scorecard not returned promptly

Accept score

3.3b(3)

Hole score entered on scorecard is lower than actual score

Accept adjusted score

3.3b(4)

Handicap on scorecard is missing or too high

Add or adjust handicap and accept score

2.1b/2
Examples of When Player Has Been Disqualified From a Competition for an Action That Would Have Provided a Significant Scoring Advantage

Examples of situations where a Committee may determine that a player has gained a significant scoring advantage include:

Rule of Golf

Nature of Disqualification

Recommended Action for Handicap Purposes

1.3b

Players deliberately agree to ignore a Rule or penalty they know applies

Score not acceptable

4.1a

Making a stroke with a non-conforming club

Score not acceptable

4.3a(1)

Using a distance-measuring device that measures elevation changes

Score not acceptable

2.1b/3
Hole Not Played By The Rules of Golf in General Play

Where a player has breached the Rules of Golf  in general play and knowingly failed to apply the correct penalty, the score should not be accepted for handicap purposes. However, in some circumstances, individual hole score(s) may be adjusted to a net double bogey  to produce an acceptable score.

If the Handicap Committee determines that the player is using the net double bogey adjustment to gain an unfair scoring advantage, the Handicap Committee must take action under Rule 7 of the Rules of Handicapping.

2.1/1
Score is Acceptable for Handicap Purposes Even If Holes Have Not Been Played in the Order Set by the Committee

Rule 5.1 of the Rules of Golf  requires holes in a round to be played in the order set by either the Committee in charge of the competition or the Committee in charge of the golf course. However, a score is acceptable for handicap purposes even if the holes in a round have not been played in the order set by the Committee.

For example:

  • When the golf course is busy and starting at an alternative hole will allow a quicker pace of play.
  • When playing holes in a different order will allow more players to complete their rounds, particularly during periods when daylight is limited.
2.1/2
Status of Scores Made When Match Play and Stroke Play Formats are Played Concurrently

When a player competes in a match while also playing a stroke play round and both are authorized formats of play, the stroke play score is the score that should be submitted for handicap purposes. The match play score should not be submitted.

2.1/3
Returning Scores for Handicap Purposes While Playing on Temporary Greens or Tees

The Authorized Association should determine whether scores made under temporary course conditions are acceptable for handicap purposes. The Authorized Association should also determine whether a temporary modification to the Course Rating and Slope Rating is required to reflect the temporary changes (see Appendix G).

Rules of Golf

The Rules of Golf as approved by the United States Golf Association (“USGA”) and R&A Rules Limited (“The R&A”), including any Model Local Rules the Committee adopts for the competition or the golf course.

For the purpose of the Rules of Handicapping, all general references to the Rules of Golf should also be considered to cover the “Modified Rules of Golf for Players with Disabilities”.

Golf Course

An area of land where golf is played, made up of the following five areas as defined in the Rules of Golf:

  1. The general area,
  2. The teeing area a player must play from in starting the hole being played,  
  3. All penalty areas,
  4. All bunkers, and
  5. The putting green of the hole being played.  

Each hole may have multiple teeing areas and, for handicap purposes, a golf course is made up of a designated set of tees on each hole. As such, each set of tees (or golf course) should have a separate Course Rating and Slope Rating, including one for each gender where appropriate.

Golf Course

An area of land where golf is played, made up of the following five areas as defined in the Rules of Golf:

  1. The general area,
  2. The teeing area a player must play from in starting the hole being played,  
  3. All penalty areas,
  4. All bunkers, and
  5. The putting green of the hole being played.  

Each hole may have multiple teeing areas and, for handicap purposes, a golf course is made up of a designated set of tees on each hole. As such, each set of tees (or golf course) should have a separate Course Rating and Slope Rating, including one for each gender where appropriate.

Authorized Format of Play

A format of play eligible for handicap purposes, as determined by the Authorized Association where the round is played (see Rule 2.1a).

Authorized Association

An entity that is authorized, in accordance with the structure set out by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and R&A Rules Limited (The R&A).

To implement and administer the Rules of Handicapping within its jurisdiction and to carry out the responsibilities as delegated to it by the authority through which it is authorized.

Such an entity must be a Multi-National, National or Regional Association, Federation or Union.

Authorized Association

An entity that is authorized, in accordance with the structure set out by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and R&A Rules Limited (The R&A).

To implement and administer the Rules of Handicapping within its jurisdiction and to carry out the responsibilities as delegated to it by the authority through which it is authorized.

Such an entity must be a Multi-National, National or Regional Association, Federation or Union.

Course Rating

An indication of the difficulty of a golf course for the scratch player under normal course and weather conditions (see Appendix G).

Slope Rating

An indication of the relative difficulty of a golf course for players who are not scratch players compared to players who are scratch players (see Appendix G).

Scoring Record

A history of a player’s acceptable scores along with:

  • The player’s current Handicap Index,
  • The player’s Low Handicap Index,
  • Other details about each round (such as, the date the round was played), and
  • Any applicable adjustments (for example, an exceptional score).

(See Appendix B.)

Golf Club

An organization that is permitted, through affiliation to its Authorized Association, to administer and manage the Handicap Index of those players who have designated it as their home club, in accordance with the requirements of the Rules of Handicapping.

To qualify for affiliation, a golf club may be required to satisfy certain requirements as determined by its Authorized Association. 

Authorized Association

An entity that is authorized, in accordance with the structure set out by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and R&A Rules Limited (The R&A).

To implement and administer the Rules of Handicapping within its jurisdiction and to carry out the responsibilities as delegated to it by the authority through which it is authorized.

Such an entity must be a Multi-National, National or Regional Association, Federation or Union.

Rules of Golf

The Rules of Golf as approved by the United States Golf Association (“USGA”) and R&A Rules Limited (“The R&A”), including any Model Local Rules the Committee adopts for the competition or the golf course.

For the purpose of the Rules of Handicapping, all general references to the Rules of Golf should also be considered to cover the “Modified Rules of Golf for Players with Disabilities”.

Rules of Golf

The Rules of Golf as approved by the United States Golf Association (“USGA”) and R&A Rules Limited (“The R&A”), including any Model Local Rules the Committee adopts for the competition or the golf course.

For the purpose of the Rules of Handicapping, all general references to the Rules of Golf should also be considered to cover the “Modified Rules of Golf for Players with Disabilities”.

Rules of Golf

The Rules of Golf as approved by the United States Golf Association (“USGA”) and R&A Rules Limited (“The R&A”), including any Model Local Rules the Committee adopts for the competition or the golf course.

For the purpose of the Rules of Handicapping, all general references to the Rules of Golf should also be considered to cover the “Modified Rules of Golf for Players with Disabilities”.

General Play

When an organized competition is not being contested and golfers are playing:

  • A casual round; or
  • Competitively, but not in an event organized by a Committee.
Net Double Bogey

A score equal to the par of a hole plus two strokes and adjusted for any handicap strokes applied on that hole. A net double bogey is a player’s maximum hole score for handicap purposes (see Rule 3.1).

Handicap Committee

The entity established by a golf club or an Authorized Association which is responsible for ensuring compliance with the obligations of the golf club or Authorized Association under the Rules of Handicapping (see Rule 1.3 and Appendix A).

Net Double Bogey

A score equal to the par of a hole plus two strokes and adjusted for any handicap strokes applied on that hole. A net double bogey is a player’s maximum hole score for handicap purposes (see Rule 3.1).

Handicap Committee

The entity established by a golf club or an Authorized Association which is responsible for ensuring compliance with the obligations of the golf club or Authorized Association under the Rules of Handicapping (see Rule 1.3 and Appendix A).

Rules of Handicapping

The Rules of Handicapping as approved by the United States Golf Association (“USGA”) and R&A Rules Limited (“The R&A”) and administered by the Authorized Association within its jurisdiction.