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How to Conduct a Competition


3. Format

A competition cannot be played until the Committee decides on the format.

b. Stroke Play

If the competition is to be played at stroke play, the Committee must decide on the form of play, how many rounds are to be played and if more than one round is involved, whether the field is to be reduced at some point, whether the field is to be broken down into classes and whether the competition is to be at scratch or on a handicap basis.

Under the Rules of Golf, the form of play can be individual, foursomes or four-ball. The winner can be determined on the basis of fewest strokes (Rule 3-1) or play can be against a fixed score at each hole (Rule 32).

If the form of play is not covered by the Rules of Golf, e.g., a best-ball- of-four or a so-called “scramble,” the Committee should establish in advance any necessary special conditions. In the case of a best-ball-of- four, it is suggested that the Rules for four-ball stroke play be considered, modified as necessary to apply to a best-ball-of-four.

The following Local Rule is recommended for a best-ball- of-four:

If a player’s ball played from within twenty yards of the hole is deflected or stopped by a partner’s ball, the player incurs a penalty of two strokes and plays his ball as it lies while the partner’s ball must be replaced.

A stroke play competition may be conducted over, for example, 9, 18, 36, 54, 72 or more holes. USGA stroke play competitions are played over 72 holes and the fields, which initially comprise approximately 150 competitors, are reduced to the 60 lowest scorers for the final 36 holes and any tying for 60th place or anyone within 10 strokes of the leader. Such a reduction in the field is commonly called the “cut.”

If the field is to comprise high- and low-handicapped competitors, the Committee might wish to establish classes so that each competitor will be competing against other competitors with comparable ability. The handicap range for each class is up to the Committee. For example, in a men’s competition Flight A might comprise competitors with handicaps from scratch through 9, Flight B might be for those with handicaps from 10 through 18. Flight C for those with handicaps of 19 through 29 and Flight D for those with handicaps of 30 and higher.