Tuesday, 26 May 2015

9-Hole Golf Competitions

I am detecting a significant increase of interest among golfers who want their Clubs and Societies to arrange more 9-hole, qualifying competitions. This interest is not restricted to senior golfers (like me) who may tire towards the end of 18 holes, but from players of all ages, who do not want to spend the best part of a day travelling to the course, playing 18 holes, post-round socialising with their fellow competitors and then travelling again. I was interested to read that The United States Golf Association, in partnership with American Express, has announced plans for the second annual PLAY9™ Day, scheduled for Wednesday, July 29, 2015. I have bolded an important fact that emerges from a paragraph taken from the USGA announcement of this welcome initiative (see this link).
The 2014 program helped to educate golfers that nine-hole scores are eligible for handicap purposes. In 2014, the USGA’s Golf Handicap and Information Network (GHIN®) recorded a 13 percent increase from 2013 in nine-hole rounds posted in the two months after the program’s launch. Golfers can visit www.usga.org/play9 to find more information on posting a nine-hole score.
As I mentioned in last week’s blog, there are at least six different handicapping systems in use worldwide and Committees should ensure that they are fully compliant with their national requirements before running 9-hole competitions that count for handicaps. I can confirm that the CONGU system (used in UK, Ireland and a few other countries) made some significant changes regarding 9-hole qualifying competitions in January 2014. This is from the current CONGU Unified Handicapping Manual;
Nine-hole qualifying competitions have proved to be very attractive to many clubs and players. The original restriction of a maximum of ten such competitions that could be played in any year has already been removed. It has now been agreed that such scores can be recorded from all clubs of which a player is a member rather than just his or her own home club. Further, the system will now allow the allotment of handicaps based on any combination of nine or eighteen hole scores subject to the cards representing 54 holes as is currently required with three eighteen hole cards.
Unsurprisingly, the Rules of Golf are exactly the same for 9-hole competitions as for 18-hole competitions, but I will draw your attention to one important fact, which may catch some players out. Decision 6-2b/0.5, Meaning of "Handicap" When Full Handicap Not Used, states;
Q. It is the condition of a stroke-play competition (e.g., four-ball) that players will not receive their full handicap allowances. Under Rule 6-2b, what is the player responsible for recording on his score card?

A. He must record his full handicap. It is the Committee's responsibility to apply the condition of competition to adjust his handicap.
So, assuming that each 9 holes has the same standard scratch, if a player’s full handicap is 12, that is what they must enter on their score card for a 9-hole stroke play competition and the Committee must make the 50% adjustment to calculate the net score/points total. If the player enters a handicap of 6 on their score card the Committee must calculate the net score/points using 3 as the player’s handicap for 9 holes. (Edited 28th May to make the point about standard scratch. Note that different handicapping systems may have different ways of dealing with this.)

Abnormal Course Conditions (1) Stipulated Round
Two weeks ago, a US Open local qualifier at Bethpage State Park's Red Course in Farmingdale, New York, was shortened to 17 holes because of ‘agronomic issues’. The reason was that the putting green on the par-3 4th hole was deemed unfit for use following prolonged severe weather in the off-season. Part of the Definition of Stipulated Round states;
The number of holes in a stipulated round is 18 unless a smaller number is authorised by the Committee.
Abnormal Ground Conditions (2) Preferred Lies through the Green
On Sunday, at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Country Club, Texas, The PGA Tour took the highly unusual decision to implement lift, clean and place through the green, allowing players to take their ball in hand even in the rough. Hmmm! Whilst I understand the argument for implementing a Local Rule permitting relief for an embedded ball through the green when there are adverse course conditions, I sincerely hope that tour organisers do not use this instance as a precedent for similarly extending preferred lies when bad weather prevails.

Good golfing,

I was delighted at the response to my announcement that my '999 Updated Questions on the Rules of Golf' is now available from Amazon as a paperback. Click here for paperback or here for my eReader/tablet/smartphone version.

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