the last several months there have been many rumblings and
inquiries having to do with the subject of golfers competing
against each other from different sets of tees. The focus
of the conversations dealt with men playing from the Blue
tees and competing with players playing from the White tees.
The MGA researched the issue and reinstated what the USGA
has determined to be the most equitable method for fair competition.
However, the lack of understanding and the immense unpopularity
of the MGA enforcing the rule (USGA Handicap System
- See Section 9-3c.) has forced the MGA to retract the
implementation of this.
instances, those asking the questions did not like the answers
I gave. They had preconceived, popular notions about handicapping
and thought they had the solution all figured out. I had to
inform them that they were wrong. The perception that this
is a USGA "recommendation", is wrong. It is
clearly stated in the USGA Handicap System manual and
is enforced by clubs all over the country:
c. Players Competing From Different
Tees or Men and Women From Same Tees
Different Tees: Men vs. Men; Women vs. Women; Women
Different tees usually have different USGA Course Ratings.
Since Course Ratings reflect the probable scores of scratch
golfers, the higher-rated course is more difficult, and
the player playing from the set of tees with the higher
USGA Course Rating receives additional strokes equal to
the difference between the Course Ratings, with .5 or
more rounded upward.
Example 1: If men playing from the middle tees
where the mens USGA Course Rating is 70.3 compete
against men playing from the back tees where the mens
USGA Course Rating is 72.6, the men playing from the
back tees will add two strokes (72.6 - 70.3 = 2.3 rounded
to 2 strokes) to their Course Handicaps.
addition, one of the most common frequently asked questions
is whether or not a club can "Ignore" this section
of the USGA Handicap System
If a club has players competing against one another from
tees with different ratings, can it choose to ignore Section
3-5/9-3 of the USGA Handicap System?
Please see the following letter that is now sent out regarding
regard to your inquiry, we want to clearly note the USGA's
position regarding handicap competitions in which players
are competing from tees where there are different USGA
Sections 3-5 of the USGA Handicap System® and Rule 6-2
of the Rules of Golf ® both apply in this situation.......
USGA Handicap System has been developed so that competitions
from different tees utilizing the differences in Course
Ratings can result in equitable competition. We encourage
golf clubs to offer competitive opportunities following
letter emphasizes that attempting to ignore this is a
violation the Rules of Golf and the USGA Handicap System.
If a golf club is issuing Handicap Indexes® to its members,
it is expected that the club will follow the Rules of
Golf and the USGA Handicap System. A club is subject to
loss of the ability to utilize the USGA Handicap System
as summarized in Handicap Decision 1-2/1:
you would like to read the entire article, please click
me explain what is "recommended" from the
USGA as there seems to be a misguided conception that the
tee rule is only a recommendation. Handicap
allowances have no effect in determining USGA Handicap
Indexes, however, their use is "recommended"
to produce fair and equitable competition. The allowances
are designed to make all forms of play fair. In forms of competition,
it is equitable for players to use either their full Course
Handicaps or a percentage thereof. To make proper use of Handicap
allowances, players must determine their Course Handicaps
from the tees that they play from. First, players
should apply the handicap allowances for the appropriate format
and then, second, should apply the adjustment
for the difference in Course Ratings if players are competing
from different tees or men and women are competing from the
same tees. (See Section 9-3c.) The adjustment for the difference
in Course Ratings is applied after the appropriate handicap
allowance has been determined so that the percentage reduction
in Course Handicaps does not affect the adjustment for difference
in Course Ratings. The amount of the adjustment is added to
the players Course Handicaps, even if it causes a Course
Handicap to exceed the maximum possible for the Slope Rating
of the set of tees being played.
the MGA has incorrectly calculated tournament handicaps in
the past. All handicaps were taken using our "Blue
Tee" handicap irregardless of the set of tees you were
playing from. Players who played from the White Tees
never "deducted" the difference of the course
ratings from the Blue Tees or tournament tees. On the
flip side, anyone playing from the Gold Tees never "added"
the difference in the course rating between the two sets of
tees. The can of worms has now been opened and, since
Eagle Watch is sanctioned by the USGA, we decided to play
by USGA standards.
the preconceived notions about handicap usage resulted in
a significant handicap advantage tilted toward their favor.
They did not want to hear what I (the MGA) had to say, because
my answers eliminated their advantage and evened the
am finding myself reciting these USGA sections in my sleep
so I personally welcome anyone to debate this issue with me
and, if need be, I will get a USGA representative involved
to clarify any outstanding misconceptions. If there
is another side to this that I am completely missing, please,
please bring it to my attention. Before you contact
me, please check out the links below for reference.
can keep adding links but I need to get a cup of coffee.
thoughts and misconceptions:
Index converts to the same Course Handicap from two different
sets of tees. This system must be screwed up because I definitely
score higher on the longer set of tees and I need more strokes.
Example, a player has a Handicap Index of 10.4. The white
set of tees has a Course Rating of 70.9 and a Slope Rating
of 118. The blue tee has a Course Rating of 73.1 and a Slope
Rating of 122. In both cases 10.4 converts to a Course Handicap
of 11. As we learned in Example 1, the Slope Rating allows
us to receive enough strokes to play to the level of a scratch
golfer from a particular set of tees. So, when this player
plays the white set of tees, he needs 11 strokes to play down
to the Course Rating of 70.9. When he plays the blue set of
tees, he needs 11 strokes to play down to the Course Rating
of 73.1. So, to play to his Course Handicap, he needs to score
70.9 + 11 = 81.9 or 82 from the white tees and 73.1 + 11 =
84.1 or 84 from the blue tees. The
system recognizes the difficulty difference in the two sets
of tees, but it doesn't show up until we take into account
both the Course Rating and the Slope Rating.
A player develops a Handicap Index from a certain set of tees,
so a 10.4 who plays all the time from the blue tees is better
than the 10.4 who plays from the white set of tees. Another
way to read this is that a player develops a Handicap Index
from a specific set of tees. In our last example, we said
the white tees had a Course Rating of 70.9 and a Slope Rating
of 118. What would a player have to average with his ten best
scores/differentials to become a 10.4? Let's skip the 96 percent
factor in the formula to make it easier to determine. First,
we need to determine how to calculate a handicap differential.
It is the adjusted gross score minus the Course Rating multiplied
by a 113 STANDARD for Slope Rating, divided by the Slope Rating
of the tees played. 81.8 - 70.9 x 113/118 = 10.4. So if a
player averaged 81.8 on his ten best differentials, the result
would be 10.4. If a blue tee player averaged 81.8, the result
would be 8.1 (81.8 - 73.1 x 113/122). Result: Shooting the
same score from different sets of tees does not result in
the same Handicap Index.
For a player averaging 84.3 from the blue tees, the resulting
Handicap Index would be 10.4 (84.3 - 73.1 x 113/122). The
combination of the differences in Course Ratings, plus the
weighting of the Slope Rating shows that a blue tee player
averaging 2.5 strokes higher than the white tee player would
result in the same Handicap Index. This is how we determine
which ten rounds to count in your Handicap Index, whether
played from the blue tee at your course, the white tee at
your course or the blue tees at Pebble Beach.
in the above information did we mention the word par. Players
often try to throw par into the mix when trying to figure
if scores are equal. Par is of little relevance in the handicap
system and is a terrible indicator of predicting score. For
example, one course may be 5500 yards long and have a par
of 72 and another may be 7200 yards long and have a par of
72. It is highly unlikely that scores on these two courses
would be equal for any level of golfer.
of the examples, we have used both Course Rating and Slope
Rating. The point is that Slope Rating by itself has
little meaning within the Handicap System. There must
be a Course Rating standard to connect/attach to the Slope
Rating in order for there to be any meaning. If there is one
thing to remember from all of this, it is that the Slope Rating
is used to convert a Handicap Index to a Course Handicap,
which allows the player to receive the number of strokes he
needs to play to the level of a scratch golfer for that particular
set of tees.
clarify this situation, the MGA has adopted this USGA recommendation
to make playing from different tees equitable and fair.
This is not an MGA "RULE"
nor is it a USGA "RECOMMENDATION" - it is a way
to level out the playing field and still let players play
from the tees that they normally do.
If you have questions about this or would like
to discuss this in more detail, I would be happy to do so.
I also have an email thread between myself and the USGA describing
that this is the fairest way to run tournaments. Call
or email me if you like.