THE HANDICAP COMMITTEE An essential element of the USGA Handicap System is the requirement that each golf club or golf association that issues USGA Handicap Indexes shall appoint a Handicap Committee to ensure the integrity of the handicaps it issues. This Committee shall make certain that the members comply with the USGA Handicap System. 8-1. Composition of the Handicap Committee A majority of the Handicap Committee shall be members of the club. Club employees may serve on the Handicap Committee, but an employee may not serve as Chairman. The position of Handicap Chairman requires a substantial amount of time and a basic knowledge of the USGA Handicap System. The more information the Handicap Chairman gives the members, the more cooperation he is likely to receive. 8-2. Duties and Responsibilities The Handicap Committee should be responsible to the golf club for all aspects of the USGA Handicap System, including the computation of USGA Handicap Indexes. The Handicap Committee shall verify that all acceptable scores are reported for handicap purposes, and that recorded scores are available for peer review.
  1. Notice to Members It is advisable to send a notice to members before the season starts in order to outline the USGA Handicap System, to stress the importance of reporting all acceptable scores and to report the Handicap Committee’s policies. The members should be advised of such matters as the following:
    1. How and where scores are returned;
    2. How handicap cards or labels are issued;
    3. How Handicap Indexes are verified at each revision;
    4. The handicap revision schedule as determined by the authorized golf association;
    5. The duration of any inactive season established by the authorized golf association (See Section 6-2);
    6. How away scores are posted prior to the start of the active season;
    7. Handicap Index adjustment powers of the Handicap Committee (See Sections 8-4 and 10-3);
    8. Penalties for players failing to return scores (See Section 8-4b(iv));
    9. Which rounds will be designated as tournament scores.
  2. Displaying USGA Ratings of the Club The USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating from every set of tee-markers should be printed on the club scorecard and posted in a prominent place at the club, preferably by means of a poster certified by the authorized golf association. The Ratings should also be easily retrievable on the screen of a computer used for score posting.
  3. Displaying USGA Ratings of Area Courses A list of USGA Course Ratings and Slope Ratings of all area courses should be provided by the authorized golf association and posted at the place where scores are returned or, if a computer is used for score posting, the list should be easily retrievable on the screen.
  4. Posting Course Handicap Tables Course Handicap Tables based on appropriate USGA Slope Ratings for conversion of USGA Handicap Indexes to Course Handicaps are issued to golf clubs by authorized golf associations. The Handicap Committee is responsible for posting these tables in the clubhouse, and for displaying copies of these tables on or near the first tee of every course at the club. Course Handicap Tables may be obtained from authorized golf associations or from the USGA.
  5. Comparing USGA Ratings The Handicap Committee should compare its USGA Course Ratings and Slope Ratings with those of other courses. A club shall accept and use the USGA Ratings that the authorized golf association has assigned. However, if its Ratings seem out of line, the club should request a review by the golf association.
  6. Examining Results of Competitions The Handicap Committee should examine results of competitions. If net scores of any players appear exceptional, the Handicap Committee should take appropriate action under procedures in Sections 8-4 and 10-3. (See Appendix E.) The club or Handicap Committee should forward exceptional tournament scores of guests to the guest’s golf club or golf association.
  7. Maintaining Players’ Records The Handicap Committee shall be responsible for maintaining players’ records, including displaying prominently a list of USGA Handicap Indexes. Current scoring records of all players in the club from the most recent revision shall be available to all members. It is preferable for only one Committee member to be responsible for players’ records and keeping Handicap Indexes up-to-date. If mathematical computations are made by a computer or computation service, the Handicap Committee still has the responsibility of reviewing the data entered into and received from the computer or computation service and applying all other procedures of the USGA Handicap System.
  8. New-Member Records The Handicap Committee should communicate promptly with new members to obtain scoring records and the corresponding USGA Course Ratings and Slope Ratings. (See Decision 6-1/1.) New-member records often are available through the player’s previous golf association office or computation service. If a record is unavailable, the new member shall use his last USGA Handicap Index issued from the previous club until he returns five scores to his new golf club and can be issued a new USGA Handicap Index.
  9. Resigned Member Records The scoring record of a member who resigns should be preserved by his former golf club or authorized golf association for at least one year in the event his new golf club should need it. The USGA Handicap Index of a resigned member remains valid only until the next revision date at the club which issued the Index. However, it may be reinstated when he joins a new golf club. The scoring record remains valid and is the player’s scoring record if he joins another club.
  10. Corrections in Records and Calculations The Handicap Committee shall review the accuracy of scoring records and information entered by any computation service. If any errors exist, the Committee shall investigate and inform the authorized golf association or computation service, which shall correct the scoring record as soon as practical and no later than the next revision date. The Handicap Committee shall issue a corrected USGA Handicap Index as soon as possible after a scoring error is noted. A golf club may wish to consult the golf association or computation service for assistance. All reports shall be amended to reflect the corrected information.
  11. Club Handicap Cards Every player should be issued a USGA Handicap card or label on which his USGA Handicap Index is recorded. (See Section 6-4.)
  12. Cooperation With Other Committees The Handicap Committee should periodically check and consult with other club committees regarding the allocation of handicap strokes to each hole on the course according to USGA guidelines, the determination of par and course set-up, and the maintenance of playing difficulty of the course. The Handicap Committee should provide handicap information to appropriate committees in a timely manner.
  13. Requirements For Compliance To determine if your club complies with the USGA Handicap System, use the following check-list: Compliance Checklist Does Your Club Comply as Follows:
    • Meet the USGA definition of a golf club?
    • Have a Handicap Committee composed mostly of members and chaired by a member? (Section 8-1)
    • Have a USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating issued by an authorized golf association within the last ten years? (Section 14)
    • Make it possible for players to record the correct USGA Course Rating and USGA Slope Rating with each posted score from every set of tees? (Sections 5-2 and 8-2b and c)
    • Require the posting of all scores made at home and away? (Section 5-1)
    • Require use of USGA procedures to adjust hole scores before posting? (Section 4)
    • Require that nine-hole scores be combined and posted for handicap purposes? (Section 5-2c and d)
    • Insist that the principles of the Rules of Golf be followed? (Section 5-1)
    • Follow the revision schedule and posting season of the authorized golf association having jurisdiction in the region? (Section 8-3a and c)
    • Ensure that all acceptable scores are entered correctly? (Section 5-2)
    • Perform computations and adjustments in accordance with the USGA Handicap Formula? (Sections 8-4 and 10)
    • Make current scoring records and a list of USGA Handicap Indexes of all members readily available for inspection by others? (Section 6-3)
    • Reduce or increase Handicap Indexes of any player whose handicap does not reflect his potential ability? (Section 8-4b)
    • Obtain a new USGA Course Rating and USGA Slope Rating from an authorized golf association when permanent changes have been made to the golf course? (Section 14-5b)
    • Include the letter "L" after local handicaps which exceed the USGA maximum limits of 36.4 for men and 40.4 for women? (Section 3-4)
    • Set up the golf course to make a consistent level of scoring possible? (Section 15)
    If the answer to all questions is "yes," the golf club is following the USGA Handicap System, and may issue USGA Handicap Indexes to its members. If any answers are "no," contact the authorized golf association or the USGA to determine necessary action to achieve compliance.
8-3. Handicap Revisions The Handicap Committee at the golf club is responsible for following the revision schedule and procedures of the authorized golf association.
  1. Revision Schedule and Inactive Season USGA Handicap Indexes for all golf clubs in a region shall be revised on the same date. Each authorized golf association shall establish the following for its region:
    1. A time schedule for revising USGA Handicap Indexes;
    2. The dates on which an inactive season starts and ends. These dates are distributed to all member clubs and non-member clubs in its region. Any club located within the region covered by an authorized golf association, but which is not a member of the association, shall observe the revision schedule and inactive season established by the association.
  2. Frequency of Revisions USGA Handicap Indexes shall be revised no less often than once a month and no more often than once every two weeks during the playing season. Handicaps revised on a more frequent schedule, including those updated every time a score is posted, are not USGA Handicap Indexes and shall be identified with an "L" to show that they are local handicaps. The USGA recommends that the committee in charge of a competition require the players to use USGA Handicap Indexes.
  3. Scores Made In Inactive Season Scores made in an area when the area’s authorized golf association has declared an inactive season shall not be accepted for handicap purposes (e.g. scores made in the New York City area in December). Handicap Indexes may not be revised during an inactive season. However, scores made in an area having an active season (e.g. scores made in Florida in December) shall be posted at the player’s golf club at the start of the active season or as soon as practical. All scores from active season areas shall be posted or if there are more than 20, the last 20 plus any eligible T-Scores shall be posted. If possible, the club’s Handicap Committee should recompute the player’s USGA Handicap at that time but no later than the first revision after these scores have been posted.
8-4. Handicap Index Adjustment and Withdrawal
  1. General A player must earn a USGA Handicap Index. No player has an inherent right to a USGA Handicap Index without providing full evidence of his ability to the Handicap Committee at his golf club. A USGA Handicap Index shall normally be changed only as warranted by the USGA Handicap System. There shall be no automatic increases at the beginning of a playing season or year. USGA Handicap Indexes are continuous from one playing season or year to the next.
  2. Handicap Index Adjustment by Handicap Committee The Handicap Committee has the responsibility of making certain that a player’s USGA Handicap Index reflects his potential ability. Under the following circumstances it will be necessary for the Handicap Committee to make adjustments to the player’s USGA Handicap Index. Before an adjustment becomes effective, the Committee must give the player an opportunity to explain the circumstances surrounding the proposed adjustment, either in writing or by appearing before the Committee. When an adjustment does become effective, it should be identified with the letter M, reflecting that the Handicap Committee has modified the Handicap Index (e.g. 4.9M).
    1. Improving Faster Than The System Can React A player just taking up the game may improve too rapidly for his USGA Handicap Index calculated by the standard procedure to reflect his potential ability.
    2. Numerous Away Scores Change Index If a player’s USGA Handicap Index increases by three or more strokes due to the posting of numerous away or Internet scores, and subsequent scores at his club clearly indicate that his increased USGA Handicap Index is too high, the Handicap Committee shall adjust his USGA Handicap Index downward.
    3. Temporary Disability An increase in a USGA Handicap Index shall not be granted because a player is temporarily off his game or has discontinued play. However, an increased handicap may be given for a temporary disability. The increased handicap is not a USGA Handicap Index, and it must be identified by the letter "L" to indicate that it is for local use. For example, a player having had recent surgery may be given a higher handicap while recovering.
    4. Failure to Post A USGA Handicap Index shall be adjusted up or down if the player does not turn in all acceptable scores or otherwise does not observe the spirit of the USGA Handicap System. The Handicap Committee shall determine the amount of adjustment. If a player fails to post an acceptable score as soon as practicable after completion of the round, the Handicap Committee should post the score and/or a penalty score and Ratings equal to the lowest handicap differential in the player’s scoring record. However, if the score not returned is unusually high, the Handicap Committee should enter the score and/or a penalty score and Ratings equal to the highest differential in the player’s scoring record.
    5. Player Manipulates Round If a player manipulates his scores to influence his USGA Handicap Index, the Handicap Committee shall adjust or withdraw his USGA Handicap Index, depending on the severity of the offense. (See Section 8-4e.) Examples of manipulating scores include the following:
      1. Posting erroneous scores;
      2. Stopping play after 7 holes to avoid posting scores;
      3. Repeatedly playing more than one ball to avoid posting scores;
      4. Not adjusting hole scores under Section 4;
      5. Deliberately reporting more or fewer strokes than actually scored;
      6. Deliberately taking extra strokes to inflate a score.
      Note: See Appendix B for a sample letter notifying a player of USGA Handicap Index adjustment.
    6. Continued Violations of Section 5-1f The Handicap Committee is duly responsible to identify and notify those players who regularly violate any provision within Section 5-1f that such rounds are unacceptable for handicap purposes. If a player continues to violate clause(s) within Section 5-1f after being notified by the Handicap Committee, the Handicap Committee is authorized and encouraged to consider withdrawal of the player’s Handicap Index.
  3. Duration of Adjustment by Handicap Committee The Handicap Committee shall determine how long a player’s USGA Handicap Index is to remain modified or withdrawn. At each handicap revision date, the Handicap Committee should compare the modified Handicap Index to the value determined by normal computation methods.
  4. Tournament Performance Review The Handicap Committee shall review the reduction of a player’s USGA Handicap Index for exceptional tournament scores. The procedure in Section 10-3 is to be used for the reduction of a Handicap Index when a player scores much better in competitions than in informal games. To use the procedure, a player must have two or more eligible tournament scores and a minimum of two tournament score differentials that are at least three strokes better than the player’s current USGA Handicap Index. The procedure for reducing a player’s USGA Handicap Index is explained in Section 10-3. If a player’s USGA Handicap Index has been reduced for exceptional tournament scores under Section 10-3, this reduction is re-evaluated at each revision. The Handicap Committee may further reduce or override the reduction of the Handicap Index of a player whose USGA Handicap Index has been reduced under Section 10-3. For example, the Handicap Committee may override reduction of the Handicap Index of a player who has returned 50 tournament scores, and whose Handicap Index reduction was based on early scores.
  5. Handicap Index Withdrawal If a player repeatedly fails to meet his responsibilities under the USGA Handicap System, the Handicap Committee shall withdraw the player’s USGA Handicap Index. Before any action is taken, the player shall be advised of the information available to the Committee and shall be invited to respond to the Committee either in writing or by appearing in person before the Committee. A player whose USGA Handicap Index has been withdrawn may be reinstated under conditions set forth by the Handicap Committee.