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USGA Recommendations For Play

(revised January 2020)

Handicap Allowance for Individual Events


Individual Stroke Play - 95% of a player's Course Handicap

Each player uses a Playing Handicap equal to 95% of the their Course Handicap for that course and set of tees. Men's Club may also use 100%.

Individual Match Play - 100% of the difference in the player's Course Handicaps 

The player with the lower handicap plays to Scratch (a "0" Playing Handicap) while the other player uses a Playing Handicap equal to the difference in each player's Course Handicaps.


Handicap Allowance for Team Events

Best Ball - Stoke Play - 85% or 75% pending team player handicap spread

Statistical studies suggest that during four-ball events (best of 2) at stroke play should be played with a handicap allowance of 85%. This gives all teams an equal chance to finish in the top 30% of the group results. However, these same studies note that teams with a spread of more than 8 strokes between the partners have an advantage of at least one stroke over teams with smaller spreads.  In this case, the study suggests both player’s allowance on such teams be reduced an additional 10% to 75%. This ensures that all teams have an equal chance to finish in the top 30% of the group results.

Best Ball - Match Play 

These same studies suggest that a four-ball event (best of 2) at match play should be played at 90% course handicap by using the differential of the lowest course handicap player who will play at scratch. This ensures that each team has an equal chance to win.  



All players tee off. The best drive is selected and all players play from the spot. This process is repeated for each succeeding stroke on each hole until the ball is holed.

          4-Person Scramble*:                                              2-Person Scramble*:
                25%    A (low)                                                                  35%    A (low)
                20%    B                                                                           15%    B (high)
                15%    C               
                10%    D (high)


          * Based on a percentage of each player's Course Handicap   

Chapman or Pinehurst Stroke Play (Alternate Shot during 6/6/6)
In Chapman or Pinehurst stroke play, two players play as partners, each partner plays from the teeing ground and plays the partner's ball for the second shot. After the second shot, partners select the ball with which they wish to score and play that ball alternately to complete the hole. The Handicap Allowance:
The player with the lower Course Handicap is allowed 60 percent of Course Handicap. The player with the higher Course Handicap is allowed 40 percent of Course Handicap. (60/40 A/B)



Tie Breakers


USGA Recommended Tie Breakers - Playoffs, Matching Scorecards 
If a playoff of any type is not feasible, matching scorecards is recommended. An acceptable method of matching cards is to determine the winner on the basis of the best score for the last nine holes. If the tying players have the same score for the last nine, determine the winner on the basis of the last six holes, last three holes and finally the 18th hole. If this method is used in a competition with a multiple tee start, it is recommended that the "last nine holes, last six holes, etc." is considered to be holes 10-18, 13-18, etc.


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