Internet Posting for all Scores Approved by the USGA

Golfers will now be able to post all scores for handicap purposes via the Internet provided their club's Handicap Committee adopts that policy. This change is one of many approved by the United States Golf Association to its Handicap System. These changes will go into effect on January 1, 2006.

Previously, only occasional scores returned via the Internet could be accepted for handicap purposes. The USGA sees this change in wording to Section 5-2 of its Handicap Manual as a way of facilitating more scores entered into a golfer's scoring record when the traditional means of score posting is not available or convenient upon the conclusion of a round.

Definition of a Golf Club

Another key change involves the definition of a golf club. The USGA is attempting to increase the number of golfers with a Handicap Index® by including less traditional groups and allowing technology to be used in a more efficient manner in the operation of a golf club for handicap purposes. A golf club is now defined as one of three (3) types:

Type 1. It is located at a single specific golf course with a valid USGA Course Rating™ and Slope Rating® where a majority of the club's events are played and where the club's scoring records reside; or

Type 2. Its members are affiliated, or known to one another, via a business, fraternal, ethnic or social organization. The majority of the club members had an affiliation prior to organizing the club; or

Type 3. The members had no prior affiliation and a majority of the recruiting and sign-up of the membership is done by solicitation to the general public (e.g., newspaper, Internet)

It is significant to note that in February, the USGA announced a policy that all golf clubs in the United States that wish to utilize the USGA Handicap System™ must be licensed by the Association by January 1, 2006 in order to continue issuing a USGA Handicap Index to their members. To receive information about licensing, contact the USGA Handicap Department at 908/234-2300.

Specific policies apply to the differing club types in an effort to assure that the integrity of the USGA Handicap System is maintained in a non-traditional environment. Decision 2/7 explains these policies: "Clarification of Compliance/License Issues for Golf Club Categories Described in the Golf Club Definition."

Some policies within Decision 2/7 include player identification, playing requirements and club size, group cohesion or activities and contact information. Each individual of the club must provide proof of identification and residence to the golf club in order to be a member of the club. At this time many of these policies apply to Type 3 clubs only.

The USGA will consider the playing requirement met if each member returns at least three scores played with other members during the season, and at least one of those rounds is played in a club-sponsored event. Anyone not meeting this minimum requirement would be dropped from the handicap roster. In terms of size, if membership in a club exceeds the number of available tee times offered in club-sponsored events, the playing requirements are not being met. An example would be a club with 200 members conducting only eight organized events with a maximum of 16 players each. Not all members would have played in a club-sponsored event (8x16=128, not 200 or greater).

Group activities can be expanded beyond just tournaments. It can include orientation and other functions, such as group meetings, award banquets and the like. And contact information for each member of the golf club must be readily available to all members.

Section 2 of the Manual has been revised to add definitions for Bogey Rating, Local Handicap, Bogey Golfer, Course Handicap™, Golf Club, Handicap Committee, Trend Handicap and Scratch Golfer.

While not a change in policy, the definition of Handicap Committee explicitly acknowledges that the chair of a Handicap Committee must be a member of the golf club and that while an employee of the club may serve on the committee, an employee may not serve in the capacity of chair.

Authorization and Licensing requirements for associations and golf clubs in foreign countries have also been added (Section 1-2).

The words "or tees" have been added to Section 5-1f (vii), consistent with "tee" being defined in The Rules of Golf. The sentence now reads: "When a player carries or uses non-conforming clubs or uses non-conforming balls or tees" the score for handicap purposes will not be accepted.

Section 7 ("Preferred Lies") has been revised to reflect the change in The Rules of Golf.

Other changes include:

Section 2, Section 5-2a (iii) and Section 6-3 – Added course name as part of the definition of scoring record, thus a golfer is likely to be specifically asked about the name of course played when posting a score. The course name becoming part of the scoring record is a Type 1 and 2 golf club recommendation, and Type 3 golf club requirement.

Section 6-6, Player Changing Golf Clubs; Section 6-7 Records of Resigned Members – Revised wording as to when a player has a Handicap Index while changing clubs or after being reinstated at a club in which the player was formally a member.

Section 8-3, Club Compliance Checklist – Revised club compliance checklist, including requiring a representative from a golf club participate in a USGA Handicap Seminar (whether conducted by the USGA or an authorized golf association) including passing a test exhibiting knowledge about the system. Sections 8-3a, b and c regarding Revision Schedule, Frequency of Revisions, and Inactive Season also were combined for clarification.

Section 8-4 – Penalty score language moved outside of Handicap Index adjustment category; notification of player not required.

Section 9-1b, Handicap Index Changed by Committee – allows an upward adjustment by the Handicap Committee to be the player’s Handicap Index.

Section 9-2b – Changed so committee in charge of the competition can only change Course Handicap; only the player’s Handicap Committee can modify that player’s Handicap Index.

Section 9-4, Handicap allowances – Added examples of handicap allowances and Section 9-3c must be applied when applicable.

Section 9-5 How To Decide Ties In Handicap Competitions – Modified language involving allocation of strokes in a scorecard matching situation.

Appendix F – Added new USGA Handicap System Licensing Program for Clubs.

Appendix G – Added new Golf Club Audit Procedure.

More information on the changes to the Handicap System Manual can be found at or by calling the USGA Handicap Department.

Championships news item for 2006:

The USGA announced that the U.S. Girls’ Junior will move to a 36-hole final match. The decision was approved October 14-15 during a regular meeting of its Executive Committee at Golf House. The U.S. Junior Amateur final was extended to 36 holes in 2005.