Monday, 18 July 2011

Conditions of Competition

An area that is frequently overlooked by players and Committees alike are the Conditions of Competition. Often, it is only when disputes arise that it is realised that key matters concerning the running of a golf competition have not been properly thought through. For this practical reason Rule 33-1 states,
The Committee must establish the conditions under which a competition is to be played.
Whereas Local Rules are introduced to clarify the course marking, or to provide relief from local abnormal conditions that are not covered by the Rules themselves, Conditions of Competition are the foundations on which a competition is built. Some of the areas that Committees have to consider are;
  • Eligibility, i.e. who may compete in a competition. This may be restricted by gender, age, handicap, etc.
  • How the player must enter the competition, e.g. entry form, time sheet, opt-in.
  • Format, e.g. match play (singles, threesomes, foursomes or four-ball match play; stroke play (singles, foursomes or four-ball stroke play; Stableford or bogey/par); other forms of play (e.g. greensomes, best-ball of four players, scramble); off scratch or on a handicap basis.
  • Times of starting and groups (twos, threes or fours). The time of starting may be a strict time sheet or as loose as a round having to be completed by a certain date.
  • Handicaps. When a competition is played on the basis of handicap, it is a matter for the Committee to specify the handicap allowance for the form of play being used.
  • Decision of Ties. Rule 33-6 states in part,
The Committee must announce the manner, day and time for the decision of a halved match or of a tie, whether played on level terms or under handicap.
The recommended methods of settling ties are detailed in Appendix I, Part C of the Rules of Golf.
  • Prizes. The Committee should announce in advance the prizes that are to be awarded in the competition.
  • Practice. A note to Rule 7-1 permits a Committee to introduce Conditions of Competition that overrides this Rule.
  • Conforming clubs, balls and ‘one ball’ condition. These Conditions are really for expert players at elite level and not really relevant at Club level.
  • Caddies and golf carts. The Committee may prohibit or restrict the use of caddies and golf carts.
  • Advice in team competitions. The Committee may permit each team to appoint one person who may give advice to members of that team.
For anyone involved in the organisation of a competition I can recommend the excellent publication published by the R&A, ‘Guidance on Running a Competition’, which is available on-line at this link.

Good Golfing,

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Golf Vacation Packages said...

Just one question.Who are the members of the committee?

Barry Rhodes said...


The "Committee" is the committee in charge of the competition or, if the matter does not arise in a competition, the committee in charge of the course.

Obviously, this will vary considerably according to the circumstances; for the Open Championship it is the R&A, in member clubs, it may be a small group chosen by someone who has been elected by the members to serve on the main Club Committee; in a pay-as-you-play course it may be the general manager or shop Pro, etc.etc.

If you really do not know who is running the golf competitions that you enter I suggest that you ask the question and also ask to see the Conditions of Competition.


Dave Myers said...

Hi Barry

Rule 6.3 a states that: The player must start at the time established by the Committee.

At our club we often don't have an official starter on competition days. A number of members appear to think that it is OK to tee off BEFORE their start time - as long as the first hole is clear to drive. I thought that there was a restriction in the rules (or maybe guidance) on this but I can't find it anywhere. A strict reading of 6.3 a) would suggest that the penalty for starting early is disqualification - is this correct?
Dave Myers

Barry Rhodes said...


The penalty for starting a round earlier than the scheduled time is disqualification. Decision 6-3a/5 confirms. However, in my experience, this penalty is rarely imposed for players that start a few minutes early providing the course ahead is clear, as this can help to avoid the time sheet from subsequently running late.


John Murray said...

Barry. When running a competition is it a requirement of the compeition committee to state the tee times available for the competition. For example "the competition runs from 8.00am to 3.00pm". Or is it OK to have a competition day and allow the tee off at any time during that day such as 7.00pm when you can get round in 2 and a half hours? That would mean that social golf would be played by people within the same designated times


Barry Rhodes said...


It seems obvious to me that if the Committee has not set ant times during which the copetition should be played, then players may play their round at any time that is available on the time sheet.

There is nothing in the Rules of Golf that prevents non-competitors playing during a competition, or even accompanying competitors who are entered, providing thay have an approved marker. These are matters for Committees to decide.


Anonymous said...

Can a committee change the rules they have set for a competition once that competition has started. For example, originally setting the rule that in a league team of 5 pairings all five scores of the pairings were to count. And then changing that rule during the competition to make it the best four scores of the five pairings.

Barry Rhodes said...


Rule 33-1 states that the Committee must establish the conditions under which a competition is to be played. These conditions should be made available to entrants in advance of the competition and should obviously not be changed once the competition has started.