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3

The Competition

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3
The Competition
Purpose of Rule: Rule 3 covers the three central elements of all golf competitions:
  • Playing either match play or stroke play,
  • Playing either as an individual or with a partner as part of a side, and
  • Scoring either by gross scores (no handicap strokes applied) or net scores (handicap strokes applied).
3
The Competition
3.2

Match Play

3.2b(1)/1
Players Must Not Concede Holes to Shorten a Match
Although a player is allowed to concede a hole to their opponent at any time before that hole is completed, a player and opponent are not allowed to agree to concede holes to each other to shorten the match. For example, before starting a match, a player and their opponent agree to alternate the concession of holes 6, 7, 8 and 9 to one another. If they know that the Rules do not allow them to make concessions in this way and start the match without cancelling the agreement, both players are disqualified under Rule 1.3b(1) (Player Responsibility for Applying the Rules). If the players are unaware that this is not allowed, the match stands as played.
3.2b(1)/2
Concession Not Valid When Result of Hole Has Already Been Decided
If a player concedes the hole to their opponent but then discovers that the player had holed out with fewer strokes, the concession was not valid as the hole had already been completed. (New)
3.2b(2)/1
Concession Is Not Valid When Caddie Attempts to Make Concession
One of the actions a caddie is not allowed to take is to concede the next stroke, a hole or the match to the opponent. If a caddie attempts to concede, that concession is not valid. There is no penalty to the player for this action of the caddie since Rule 10.3b(3) (Actions Not Allowed By Caddie) does not specify a penalty. If the opponent takes an action based on the caddie's attempt to concede, such as lifting a ball in play or a ball-marker, this would be a reasonable misunderstanding under Rule 3.2b(2). There is no penalty and the ball or ball-marker must be replaced unless the player then makes a concession. However, if the caddie who made the invalid concession lifted the opponent's ball or ball-marker or the ball or ball-marker of their player, that caddie's player would get a penalty if that act was a breach of Rule 9.4 or Rule 9.5.
3.2c(1)/1
Declaring Higher Handicap Is a Breach Even If Affected Hole Has Not Been Played
If a player declares a higher handicap to their opponent before playing the hole that would be affected, the player is still disqualified since this could have affected the opponent's strategy. For example, while waiting on the first tee to start the match, Player A declares that their handicap is 12, when it is really 11. Player B declares that their handicap is 10, and Player B makes a stroke to start play of the 1st hole. Player A is disqualified under Rule 3.2c(1) because Player B made a stroke in the match with the understanding that Player A gets two handicap strokes.
3.2c(1)/2
Player Gives Opponent Incorrect Handicap Information Before Handicap Match
If a player gives the opponent incorrect information in relation to their handicap and this results in the player giving too few or getting too many strokes, the player is disqualified under Rule 3.2c(1). For example, a player tells an opponent an incorrect Handicap IndexTM or a Course HandicapTM or Playing HandicapTM that they (the player) calculated incorrectly, and this is used to determine how many handicap strokes there will be in the match. If this means the player will get too many or give too few handicap strokes because of the incorrect information, and this error is not corrected before the opponent makes their next stroke, the player is disqualified. (New)
3.2d(1)/1
Meaning of the “No Penalty If No Effect on Result of Hole” Exception
During play of a hole, a player must give the right number of strokes taken so their opponent can decide how to play the hole. However, after a hole is completed, if a player gives the wrong number of strokes taken, there is no penalty under the Exception to Rule 3.2d(1) if doing so did not affect the opponent's understanding of whether the hole was won, lost or tied. For example, after completing a hole at which the opponent scored a 7, the player mistakenly states that they scored a 5, when the player actually scored a 6. After starting the next hole, the player realizes that they scored a 6. Since the wrong number of strokes taken did not change the fact that the player had won the hole, there is no penalty.
3.2d(1)/2
Wrong Number of Strokes Given by Player After Hole Completed and the Mistake Is Discovered Several Holes Later
If a player gives the wrong number of strokes taken after a hole is completed, the player gets the general penalty if the mistake affects the result of the hole and is not corrected in time. In such a case, the match score must be corrected. For example, after completing the 1st hole the player tells the opponent that they scored a 4 but actually scored a 5. The opponent scored a 5 on the hole. After playing several more holes, the player realizes that they gave the opponent the wrong number of strokes taken on the 1st hole. Even though the hole would have been a tie if the right number of strokes taken had been given, the player gets a loss-of-hole penalty on the first hole because the mistake affected the understanding of the result of the hole. The match score must be corrected.
3.2d(1)/3
Wrong Number of Strokes Given by Player After Hole Completed and the Mistake Is Discovered After Result of the Match Is Final
If a player unknowingly gives the wrong number of strokes taken after a hole is completed but the mistake is not realized until after the result of the match is final (Rule 3.2a(5) - When Result Is Final), the result of the match stands as played. For example, after completing the 17th hole, the player tells the opponent that they scored a 3, but actually scored a 4. The opponent scored a 4 on the hole. The players play the 18th hole, and the result of the player winning the match 1 up is made final. The player then realizes that they gave the opponent the wrong number of strokes taken on the 17th hole. Because the player unknowingly gave the wrong number of strokes and the result of the match is final, there is no penalty and the match result stands, with the player as the winner (Rule 20.1b(3) - Ruling Request Made After Result of Match Is Final).
3.2d(1)/4
Changing Mind About Taking Penalty Relief Is Not Giving Wrong Number of Strokes Taken
The right number of strokes taken means only the strokes a player has already made and any penalty strokes already received. For example, the player's ball lies in a penalty area and the opponent asks how the player intends to proceed. Although not required to answer the question, the player advises that they will take penalty relief. After the opponent plays, the player decides to play the ball as it lies in the penalty area. The player was entitled to change their mind and there was no penalty for doing so since stating future intentions is not the same as giving the number of strokes taken.
3.2d(2)/1
“As Soon as Reasonably Possible” Is Not Always Before the Opponent’s Next Stroke
The phrase "as soon as reasonably possible" allows for consideration of all relevant circumstances, especially how near the player is to the opponent. For example, if the player takes unplayable ball relief when the opponent is on the opposite side of the fairway and the opponent plays before the player can walk over to tell the opponent about the penalty, "as soon as reasonably possible" may be while they are walking up to the hole to make their next strokes. There is no set procedure for determining what is "as soon as reasonably possible", but it does not always mean before the opponent makes the next stroke.
3.2d(3)/1
Deliberately Giving Incorrect Match Score or Failing to Correct Opponent’s Misunderstanding of Match Score May Result in Disqualification
Rule 3.2d(3) expects players to know the match score, but does not require a player to give the match score to the opponent. If a player deliberately gives an incorrect match score or deliberately fails to correct the opponent's misunderstanding of the match score, they have not given the wrong number of strokes taken. But the Committee should disqualify the player under Rule 1.2a (Serious Misconduct).
3.2d(4)/1
Meaning of “Agree” in Rule 3.2d(4)
A player in a match who knows or believes that their opponent has breached a Rule that has a penalty may choose not to act on the breach, but the player and opponent may not agree to ignore a breach or penalty they know applies. For there to be an agreement, both players need to have been involved in the decision to ignore the breach or the penalty. The following examples illustrate when there is not an agreement between a player and an opponent:
  • During play of a hole, the player sees their opponent lift their ball for identification without first marking its spot. The player tells the opponent that failure to mark is a breach of the Rules but advises the opponent that they (the player) are not going to act on the breach. It was the player’s sole decision not to act on the breach and, consequently, there has not been an agreement.
  • During play of a hole, the opponent advises the player that they (the opponent) touched sand on their backswing in a bunker. The player confirms that this is a loss of hole penalty, but advises the opponent that they (the player) are not going to act on the breach. It was the player’s sole decision not to act on the breach and, consequently, there has not been an agreement.
In such cases when a player makes a sole decision not to act on a breach and tells the opponent of that decision, the player may not change that decision after either player makes another stroke on the hole, or if no more strokes are made on that hole, once either player makes a stroke from the next teeing area. The following examples illustrate when there is an agreement between the player and the opponent:
  • During play of a hole, the player sees their opponent lift their ball for identification without first marking its spot. The player tells the opponent that failure to mark is a breach of the Rules but, after discussion, the player and opponent conclude that they don’t want to apply penalties in situations where there is no clear advantage from the breach of the Rule. As both players were involved in determining the outcome of the situation, and they then agreed not to apply the penalty, there has been an agreement to ignore the breach of the Rules, and both players are disqualified under Rule 1.3b.
  • During play of a hole, the opponent advises the player that they (the opponent) touched sand on their backswing in a bunker. The player confirms that this is a loss of hole penalty, but the opponent suggests to the player that they overlook the breach as no real advantage was gained. The player decides not to apply the penalty. As the player was influenced by the opponent in their decision not to act on the breach there has been an agreement, and both players are disqualified under Rule 1.3b. (New)
3.3

Stroke Play

3.3b(1)
Players Must Be Accompanied by a Marker for the Entire Round
The purpose of a marker is to certify that a player's score for each hole is correctly shown on the player's scorecard. If a marker is not with the player for the entire round, the scorecard cannot be properly certified. For example, if a player plays several holes without their marker and the marker enters the player's scores for the holes the player played alone, the scorecard cannot be properly certified under Rule 3.3b. The player should have insisted that the marker accompany the player for all of the holes. If the marker was unable to do so, the player should have asked another person to serve as their marker. If that was not possible, the player was required to stop play and report to the Committee so that another marker could be assigned.
3.3b(2)
Information Put in Wrong Location on Scorecard May Still Be Acceptable
Although all requirements of Rule 3.3b must be met before a scorecard is returned, there is no penalty if the correct information is mistakenly entered on the scorecard in a place other than where it was expected to be, except that each hole score on the scorecard must be identifiable to the correct hole (see Clarification 3.3b(3)/1). For example:
  • If the player and marker certify the hole scores in the location where the other was meant to certify, the player's scores have been certified as required under Rule 3.3b. The same would be true if initials were used to certify, rather than the full name.
  • If the player's scores are recorded on the marker's scorecard and the marker's on the player's, but the scores are correct and both scorecards are certified, the scorecards are acceptable so long as the players tell the Committee which scorecard belongs to which player. As the nature of this mistake is administrative, there is no time limit on making such a correction (see Rule 20.2d(2)).
3.3b(3)
Another Scorecard May Be Used If Official Scorecard Is Damaged or Misplaced
Although a player should return the scorecard that they were given by the Committee, Rule 3.3b does not require the same scorecard to be returned if it was damaged or misplaced. For example, if the marker misplaces a paper scorecard that had been handed out by the Committee, it would be acceptable to use another scorecard (such as a club scorecard) so long as that scorecard has the player's name and hole scores, and is certified by the player and marker. When an electronic scoring system is used and the player or marker loses internet connectivity or there is a technical issue, the players should raise the matter with the Committee as soon as possible and no later than immediately after the round is completed.
3.3b(2)/1
Players Are Required to Enter Only Scores on a Scorecard
There is a difference between requiring players to enter a score for a round into a computer (such as for handicapping purposes) and being required to enter hole scores using an electronic form of scorecard approved by the Committee (such as a mobile scoring application). The Committee may require players to use a scorecard other than a paper scorecard (such as an electronic form of scorecard), but the Committee has no authority to impose a penalty under Rule 3.3b(2) for failing to enter scores elsewhere. However, to help in administrative matters (such as the efficient production and communication of competition results), a Committee may apply a penalty under a Code of Conduct (Rule 1.2b) or provide disciplinary sanctions (such as revoking entry into the next competition) for failing to enter scores elsewhere.
3.3b(2)/2
Application of the Exception for Marker Failing to Carry Out Their Responsibilities
Under the Exception to Rule 3.3b(2), a player gets no penalty if there is a breach of the scorecard requirements because of a failure of the marker that is beyond the player's control. Examples of how the Exception operates include:
  • If a marker leaves the course with a player's scorecard after a round, the Committee should try to contact the marker. However, if unable to do so, the Committee should accept certification of the player's scores by someone who saw the round. If no one else is available, the Committee itself can certify the player's scores.
  • If a player needs to correct a hole score after the scorecard has been certified by the marker, but the marker is not available or has already left, the Committee should try to contact the marker. If unable to do so, the Committee should accept certification of the alteration by someone who saw the player play that hole or, if no such person is available, the Committee itself can certify that score.
3.3b(3)/1
Scores on Scorecard Must Be Identifiable to Correct Hole
Under Rule 3.3b, each hole score on the scorecard must be identifiable to the correct hole. For example, if a marker enters the player's front nine scores in the back nine boxes and the back nine scores in the front nine boxes, the scorecard will still be acceptable if the mistake is corrected by altering the hole numbers so that they go with the right score for each hole. However, if this mistake is not corrected and, as a result, a hole score is lower than actually taken on that hole, the player is disqualified under Rule 3.3b(3).
3.3b(4)/1
Penalty for Player Who Deliberately Fails to Alert Committee to an Administrative Mistake
The Committee is responsible for adding up the player’s hole scores and, in a handicap competition, for determining how many handicap strokes the player will get for the round and calculating the player’s net score. If the Committee makes an error in carrying out any of these responsibilities, this is an administrative mistake and there is no time limit to correct such a mistake (Rule 20.2d(2)). But if a player notices such a mistake, they are responsible for alerting the Committee to the mistake. If it is discovered that the player noticed such a mistake and they deliberately failed to bring it to the attention of the Committee, the Committee should disqualify the player under Rule 1.2a (Serious Misconduct). (New)
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