Tournament Officials Guide




This is a combined AGA/AWGA/JGAA services group positioned to ensure the highest quality  tournament governance under the Rules of Golf managed by the joint Associations. The primary job is to:

  1. Ensure officials are competent for each assignment through training and on-course
  2. Maintain a list of officials and their skill ratings, availability, preferred areas of work that includes all pertinent contact
  3. Facilitate assignments of officials to events sponsored by the three golf Associations in Arizona and selected other
  4. Act as a conduit to officials when organizations other than the three golf Associations wish assistance with
  5. Provide a Tournament Operations Manual and example support documents for use by clubs, event management and by rules



The AzRC is governed by Arizona‘s amateur associations collectively.



AzRC Administration is responsible for:

  1. Maintaining a list of officials and their skill ratings, availability, expertise, and preferred areas of work and all pertinent contact information;
  2. Maintaining and updating this publication, making changes as directed by the AzRC Governing Board;
  3. Maintaining an Operations Manual for use at events and by officials (The Rules Official Handbook). The manual includes advice regarding all aspects of tournament


  1. Founding member Associations that sponsor and conduct most amateur and USGA qualifying golf tournaments:
  2. Arizona Golf Association,
  3. Arizona Women’s Golf Association,
  4. Junior Golf Association of Arizona,
  5. General members who work at the direction of the AzRC, an Association or another group at sanctioned events to prepare the golf courses and provide expertise in managing



Each Association is autonomous and runs its business as it sees fit.



The general membership of the AzRC is comprised of Rules Officials and those in training who wish to become Rules Officials. There is an expectation that the members will frequently make themselves available for tournament assignments and continue to be members in good standing.

The   general  members  must   be   prepared   and   qualified for  tournament  assignments.    Acquiring, maintaining and improving knowledge and skills are the joint responsibilities of each general member


and the Associations.  General members work both independently and with the assistance of the AzRC  to improve their capabilities and skills.

There are volunteers who assist at golf tournaments who are not Rules Officials or learning to become Rules Officials. Those volunteers are not described in this section as the focus is on the membership of the AzRC.

There are three (3) membership options:

Option #1: Complimentary
  1. All AzRC manuals and materials, a copy of Decisions on the Rules of Golf (biannually);
  2. Annual preparation seminars for the Rules of Golf exams; seminars on course markings and officiating.
  3. Option to acquire additional apparel for tournament work (rain gear, shirts, jackets, sweaters, shoes, etc.) at cost through the AzRC
Option #2: $100 – Option #1 plus

Three AzRC Committee shirts (red, white, blue), and the choice of an AzRC jacket or sweater (a $160 value);

Option #3: $350.00 – Options #1 and #2 plus

Entry into the USGA/PGA Rules Seminar (a $350 value)

It is the intent of the AzRC to be the central clearing-house for organizations other than one of the Associations seeking assistance for event management. It is anticipated that those events will be substantially serviced by the Association that generally hosts tournaments for the age group and/or gender.

  1. The AWGA primarily conducts women’s events for women older than high school
  2. The AGA primarily conducts men’s events for men older than high school
  3. The JGAA primarily conducts events for boys and girls of high school age and



The AzRC will do its best to provide assistance to those non-association events. The Associations’ schedules and prior commitments have priority. While members of the AzRC work without pay for association events, other groups hosting tournaments are expected to compensate AzRC members for any work provided.

When AzRC members assist with non-association events as Rules Officials, they must have the right to review, approve and revise as necessary all Local Rules for the event. They may also require that course markings are appropriate and in keeping with the Rules of Golf and that player groupings and group intervals are reasonable to meet any expected pace of play for which they are responsible. Without  such authority, officials cannot assume responsibility for performance.



At times general members work without cash compensation and at times, they are paid a stipend.

When working non-association tournaments, such as collegiate invitational tournaments, or other organized tournament tours, general members may be paid a stipend.  The suggested rates are:

  1. ROIC: $200/day
  2. Rules Official: $150/day.
  3. Starter: $50/day (4 hours or less)
  4. Scorer: $50/day (4 hours or less)




  1. Populate the AzRC website with events for which they desire AzRC member
  2. Choose its Staff member in Charge (SIC).
  3. Choose a Rules Official in Charge (ROIC).
  4. Determine how many AzRC members and volunteers are needed, work times, and roles, and post them to the AzRC
  5. Determine uniform requirements for general members and volunteers at each event
  6. Provide food and beverage service for the time and duration of the work day or compensates appropriately.
  7. Lists any compensation available on the website for any given
  8. Set the course marking date, assign a leader and provide materials
  9. Report member days’ worked on the website form at the completion of each



Each Association assigns a Staff [person] in Charge for each of their own events; when a non-Association group wishes assistance, they provide the SIC although may look to the Association to suggest a general member to perform the ROIC role. That ROIC, also assists as an assistant SIC. The responsibilities of the SIC are:

  1. Assign ROIC from those general members working the
  2. Along with the ROIC, determine general member and volunteer
  3. Represent the Association in all contractual
  4. Represent the Association in any issue requiring discipline or
  5. Final authority in all non-rules/golf course
  6. Determine/approve playing
  7. Determine pairings & starting
  8. Communicate and oversee non-Rules Official work
  9. Print all necessary
  10. Communicates tournament and work
  11. Provide scoreboards, arranges score posting and
  12. Provide for administrative and event media services, website
  13. Provide pace committee assignments, locations, Time Par (Maximum Allotted Time) and Raguzzi reports.
  14. Manage TPP or other tournament software/website.
  15. Manage media content and
  16. Provide or identify uniforms, tools and equipment for the



The ROIC is tasked with ensuring the Rules are applied correctly, players receive the information intended by the Committee for them to have, the course is properly setup and that all questions about the Rules are answered as soon as practicable and when possible, before each round is complete.   Duties of the ROIC:

  1. Approve course markings
  2. Create or approve Local Rules publication and provide recommendations to SIC for printing, utilizing the AzRC language and/or USGA Rules of Golf, Appendix I


  1. Publish a Local Rules handout for Officials and review that with them before they go out on assignment.
  2. Oversee application of Rules on-course during the
  3. Oversee course setup, the location and definition of scoring area and score board.
  4. Oversee starting; ensuring starters have the proper information and
  5. Oversee the reception of score cards and rulings. The ROIC always participates in Rule 3-3 resolutions and has final decision-making responsibility as Chair of the



The CPO monitors pace of play and takes action as approved by the SIC:

  1. Oversee and apply Pace of Play
  2. Oversee documentation of violations of
  3. Conduct violation interviews following play, including Committee members as
  4. Apply applicable penalties when



All tournament workers are expected to be at the course, in uniform, and ready to work at least 30 minutes ahead of their assigned time.

Every tournament worker must understand that the players and their caddies (when appropriate) are customers. At junior events, most of the spectators are parents of players and as such are customers  and likely patrons of the Association as well. Every interaction with golf course staff, players, caddies, spectators is to be done professionally and with respect.



Each member association supplies the appropriate uniform. At each day of a tournament, all officials wear the same color/markings shirts, color of slacks or shorts. The AzRC or the member association supplies and maintains a supply of items that identify the official as a tournament official. That includes name tags, lanyards, cart signage and cart flags. While on the premises, Rules Officials are required to wear an issued name tag.  Rules Officials in a golf cart must display a cart sign and/or flag.

Members may be issued radios, golf carts, cart-flags or other durable goods. These items are expected  to be cared for and returned at the end of the workday. Golf carts are issued to tournament workers depending on the need and the availability of carts.

If radio earphones are available, they should be used. Officials may supply their own, but that is not required or expected, however all officials must be readily available and in contact with other officials and the Committee.

Radios are to be used with care, respecting the airwaves. Use of inappropriate language or a radio other than for tournament business may result is loss of radio privileges.



The Association may or may not reimburse the official for expenses incurred in traveling to and from each event. Each golf Association determines the amount of travel compensation and the form and manner of reporting and payment as well as any conditions that must be met. It is  the  general member’s responsibility to understand and determine the policy at a given event if there is no  statement in advance. All should presume there is no travel expenses offered unless advised  in  advance.



Regular training exercises will be organized by the Associations and made available to all.

Each member is expected attend a 3½ day PGA-USGA Rules of Golf Workshop once in a 4-year period and take the 100-question exam, providing the final score to the AzRC.

AzRC training seminars will be provided at no cost to members. Qualified AzRC members will receive the current AzRC Manual.

Other than meals, there may be additional benefits that will be identified in advance on the AzRC website. The AzRC can assist with notifying Rules Officials about opportunities to earn a stipend for working those tournaments, but cannot guarantee that Officials will be available or willing to work for the stipend offered.




There are many roles to fill at an event. Some people may fulfill more than one role; not all roles are required at every event:

  1. SIC (Staff in Charge)
  2. ROIC (Rules Official in Charge)
  3. CPO (Chief Pace Official)
  4. Course preparation
  5. Course preparation lead
  6. Local Rule writer
  7. Course marker
  8. Hole Locator
  9. Starter
  10. Scoring
  11. Scorer
  12. Score Poster
  13. Score Data Entry
  14. Roving Rules Official (Rover)
  15. Stationary Rules Official – an official with restricted authority assigned to a hole, several holes or assigned to one or more groups for the
  16. General help – a volunteer that may perform any assignment other than work as a Rules
  17. Checkpoint Monitor
  18. Forecaddie/Spotter



There are expectations for each role. Those expectations may include qualifications, knowledge and experience. When a score on a USGA exam is requested, that score must be verified by the AzRC Governing Board. That verification comes from the general member sending an original or an original copy of the letter from the USGA with the score displayed prominently to the AzRC Administrator. The Administrator will record the scores and consider if the score is new information suggesting a change in capability level.  If so, it will be presented to the AzRC Governing Board.

Each of the Roles is described as a job with a target capability such that it is clear how to progress, in order to be considered for different or additional roles. Roles that may be performed leading up to and during golf tournaments are described as well as the skill level expected to perform a role successfully.


SIC (Staff in Charge)

The Staff in Charge is assigned by the sponsoring organization. The sponsoring organization decides the qualifications, and makes assignments. Is recommended that the SIC be experienced in all phases of tournament operations and be able to provide direction to tournament workers.



The Rules Committee [Committee] is in charge of the competition.

The Committee establishes the conditions under which a competition is to be played, and is responsible for writing and publishing the Local Rules for the competition.


The Committee resolves disputes and makes any decisions leading to the disqualification of a player. All difficult or complex rulings are referred to the Rules Committee for a final decision. The Rules Committee is comprised of the SIC, the ROIC and a few others chosen by them.


ROIC (Rules Official in Charge)

The ROIC is an appointment for a single event. S/he may perform any duty at an event and must be qualified to perform all duties and provide guidance as needed to tournament workers.


A ROIC has scored 92 or better on a USGA/PGA Rules Exam within the last four years, or attained a score of 98 or better on the AzRC test. S/he has:

  1. Demonstrated an exceptional Rules of Golf
  2. Demonstrated an ability to train others in the
  3. Demonstrated the ability to lead a Course Preparation
  4. Demonstrated the capability to construct Local Rules and the Notice to Players in accordance to the Rules of

The ROIC may assign any official to perform the role of Chief Pace Official (CPO), but generally that assignment is made by the SIC with the ROIC’s agreement. The ROIC makes sure the CPO understands the role and is able to communicate proper information to checkpoint officials or  rovers as needed.



An experienced Rules Official is familiar with most situations encountered on course and authorized to make all rulings, calling for second opinions when unusual situations arise. S/he capable of performing all duties of a stationary official, a checkpoint Monitor, a starter and scorer.

  1. A score of 85 or better on a recent USGA/PGA Exam or the AzRC Exam in the last 4
  2. Demonstrated a high level of Rules
  3. Demonstrated ability to mentor others in the more unusual

The designated “Rules Rover” supervises on-course training. S/he is capable and authorized to make all rulings that they have made before, however, they call for assistance or a second opinion when faced with a new or unusual situation.

Rovers assist other officials with the application of the Rules.



Officials assigned to a hole, set of holes or to supervise specific group(s) on the course.

  1. Assist players with the Rules
  2. May set up golf course
  3. May mark golf course
  4. May act as official Starter
  5. May manage the Scoring table
  6. May be assigned as a Pace Official There are two roles in this


RULES OFFICIAL – (Authorized to make most rulings)

Rules Officials with a recent USGA Rules of Golf exam score of 75 or better on either the PGA/USGA or AzRC Rules Exams.


A Rules Official is authorized to make rulings as assigned. S/he may also work as a scorer, starter, or pace official. Other when starting or scoring, Rules Officials work as an official assigned to a hole, small set of holes, a group or a few groups. S/he may participate with course marking and hole selection team.


RULES ASSOCIATE (Authorized only to make rulings as assigned)

An Associate is a rules candidate who has taken a Rules test either locally or a USGA/PGA exam but may not yet have received a qualifying score. The main purpose of this role is to learn how to officiate, gain experience, prepare for examination on the Rules of Golf and eventually qualify as a Rules Official.


A Rules Associate is considered to be in training. S/he has limited ruling authority as assigned by the ROIC or the SIC, in keeping with proven knowledge. S/he will be assigned various tasks across all Rules Officials responsibilities under close supervision to enhance the learning experiences. Additional responsibilities will be assigned as capabilities are identified.



The CPO is assigned by the SIC. The main job is to oversee the activities of the Checkpoint monitors, assist them as needed, ensure they know how to perform their assignment and deal with breaches. The Checkpoint Official must get approval from the SIC to apply any pace of play penalty.



When a Checkpoint Pace of Play Policy is in effect at a tournament, Checkpoints are established by the SIC at specific locations on the golf course to monitor and record pace of play. Checkpoint Monitors record completion times for each group and inform the players and the CPO when groups are in breach of the Pace of Play Policy.


As each group completes play of the assigned hole, (defined as when the flag is returned to the hole), the Checkpoint Monitor records the time on the pace worksheet and calculates and writes in the area provided the time differential between this groups flag-in time and the previous group’s flag-in time. Referring to the Pace of Play Chart and using the Pace of Play Policy, the Checkpoint Monitor determines if the Group is out of position. If so, the Checkpoint Monitor informs the group and relays the information to the Pace Official as instructed.

This person, at selected events, will also collect scores from players as they pass the station, either recording on equipment provided or calling in to a central scoring location.

Assignments are either full or part-day.



Checkpoint Monitors must be able to keep accurate records of times, write clearly and do simple math. There are no training pre-requisites, although prior experience or observing another Checkpoint Monitor doing the work may be helpful.

Equipment and Materials:

Checkpoint Monitors must have an accurate clock set to the same time as the clock at starting, a clipboard, Pace of Play work sheets and pencils for recording times, a radio with an ear-bud or PTT MIC/ear-piece combination and at least one pace of play policy and one pace spreadsheet with  other materials as provided by the OIC.



The Starter sets the tone for the tournament. Each player relies on the Starter for materials and information that is important for his tournament preparation.

The Starter is responsible for assembling the players, providing materials and information and starting the group on time in accordance with established processes and protocols.

Starters start players according to assigned starting times in keeping with the Rules of Golf and note and announce all variances. Duties are provided daily by the ROIC, and include providing player information and application of the Rules of Golf.   Starters are often Rules Officials.

When a Starter is not a qualified Rules Official, s/he must have ready access to one qualified, and must never offer Rules information outside of the printed materials.



Volunteers, Rules Officials and Association staff may be assigned to the scoring area to receive score cards as players complete their round. Scoring officials assure that scores are legible, both marker and player have signed the card and any Rules issues have been resolved. Scoring Officials add the hole scores and pass the score card to the scoreboard official.

Scoring officials or assistants may also write scores on the scoreboards, collect cards, deliver to central scoring and when applicable, enter numbers into a computer and proof scores.

In the event a Rules Official is not present in the scoring area, the scoring official will call a Committee member whenever a rules question arises. For all Rule 3-3 situations, the ROIC must be called to resolve any issue.



The score poster is the one who posts scores on the scoreboard.

  1. Receives score cards from either scoring or from data
  2. Checks addition and presence of signatures on each
  3. Letters scoreboards as provided by the



The score data entry person is the one who enters the hole-by-hole numbers from score cards into a computer, who manages data entry for the Tournament Program, checking all scorecard additions and signatures for accuracy.



A volunteer assigned to an area of the course where players may need assistance in locating balls or determining where a ball entered a water hazard.

A Forecaddie may be supplied with a radio (cell phone) to contact the Rover or nearby Rules Official when a player needs assistance with a ruling. A forecaddie should time any search for a ball, advising players and a Rules Official when the five-minute limit is reached.

A Forecaddie never makes rulings. Informing the player that his search time has expired is not making a ruling.  If a question arises, the forecaddie should call the Rover or the ROIC.


A Forecaddie must have good eyesight, use of binoculars when able and be mobile enough to assist players’ searching for a ball.



A Tournament Assistant works with the OIC in event setup and otherwise to provision starting tees, scoring areas, officials’ information and on-course logistics from staging tents to delivering water and on-course services.



The course preparation team gets the course ready for tournament play. They mark  hazards,  boundaries and any ground under repair. They may stripe tees ahead of the placement of tee markers and select, record and dot hole locations; they write the Local Rules and the Conditions of Competition, all under the direction of the ROIC.

Team work is available to any interested AzRC members, no matter what previous experience they have, working under the ROIC’s direction.



The Team Leader must have experience preparing courses for tournament competitions; be capable of marking all situations and training others. S/he will be skilled at selecting hole locations considering the strength of the field, and able to construct Local Rules and conditions of Competition. A strong understanding of the Rules of Golf and the application of Local Rules is imperative.



Individuals experienced in constructing the Local Rules and Conditions of Competition are eligible. S/he must have a strong understanding of the Rules of Golf, the application of Local Rules, and excellent English writing skills.



An experienced Course Marker will be able to discern proper markings for most situations. A strong understanding of the Rules of Golf and the application of Local Rules is a critical asset.



A Hole Locator must understand the playing characteristics of the course being planned, have an appreciation for the quality of play to be expected, and understand the implications of course markings on difficulty of play. Candidates are welcome to accompany experienced Locators, and are encouraged to volunteer in order to expand knowledge of effective course preparation. A strong understanding of the Rules of Golf is desirable.

Competitions Guide


Golf is essentially a self-regulating game.  The players are responsible for knowing the Rules and are expected to play by them.  Playing by the Rules requires a properly marked golf course, appropriate local Rules and conditions for play, and Rules of Golf oversight to settle disputed points.

This Guide, is intended to assist the Tournament Director to successfully conduct a competition. While experience in conducting golf tournaments is valuable, this guide helps those who are experienced and new tournament directors as well.

Conducting a golf tournament is hard work and will require planning and execution in accordance with a schedule. The work of conducting a golf tournament is extensive. The checklist in Appendix l, Part 2 helps to identify the tasks and provides a means for ensuring important tasks are performed. Consider that the field must be decided; whether men or women, or both and the ages of the participants. The time and date(s) of the competition must be determined and the form of play; is it a stroke play event or is it match play? Decide how long each hole is to be played and which age group/gender will play at each yardage. The Tournament director must decide how scoring will be accomplished. Will the Stableford method be used and how will score cards be produced, received and checked. Which Local Rules are to be employed. Are all players to play on each day or are other arrangements planned?

This guide will help conduct a successful golf tournament.

After course markings are completed, Conditions of Competition and Local Rules must be drafted.  The course must be set up carefully. The Rules must be applied equitably to all players.  The purpose of this Guide is to provide a road map for preparation and proper oversight of a competition whether a friendly weekend game or serious professional multi-day event.

Each Committee must decide which parts of the Guide are applicable to the competitions it conducts.  Any Club or group which conducts multiple events may wish to establish a “Hard Card” that specifies which Local Rules and Conditions are in effect for all competitions, supplementing that set of Rules with any local conditions for specific days or events.

Reference is made throughout this document to the Rules of Golf and to the publication “Decisions on the Rules of Golf.”  It is assumed that any Committee running a golf competition will have current editions of these publications.


The Rules of Golf define the Committee as “the Committee in charge of the competition” and Rule 33-1 states that, “the Committee must establish the conditions under which a competition is to be played.”  A Committee must be in charge of all aspects of running the competition.

At the Club Level, there may be different Committees within a Club.  The Committee that runs the golf competition must be identified.  Only the members of that Committee should have the authority to make decisions.  Often the Committee will pass duties of running the competition to the Club professional or staff.  These individuals are not automatically members of the Committee with final authority; therefore it is advisable to stipulate with whom final authority lies, e.g., approve a change in start time, suspend play, etc.

It is vital that the Conditions of the Competition are established in advance that the Committee can deal with any situations that may arise, from entry procedures to pace of play to authorized golf balls.   This will eliminate many casual penalties incurred by uninformed players.

The Committee must decide who may participate in the competition, i.e., men, women, juniors, seniors, etc.

It may be that a competition has handicap restrictions.   If there is a limit to the number of players, the Committee must define procedures for determining the final field and access for alternates.  A “first come first served” policy can be adopted, or alternatively, the Committee may accept the players with the lowest handicaps.  The Committee must decide whether it will use the current course handicaps, a percentage of those, the lowest of a certain period.  If exceptional play under handicaps occurs, the Committee should specify what adjustments or other measures may be taken.

If entry is restricted by age, then any condition in this regard should be clear. With any age limits (e.g., junior, mid-amateur or senior events), it is recommended that a player must have reached the minimum age by the first day of the competition.  However, other dates such as date of entry, entry deadline or a specific handicap revision may be used.

The Committee must determine how players are to enter the competition, when the entry must be received, and when payment is due.

In club competitions, entry may be made by a player adding his name to a sheet by a certain date or simply arriving on the day of the competition and indicating his desire to play.  Even with these less formal methods of entry, the Committee must establish clear procedural guidelines and state what should happen if the correct procedure is not adopted.  For example, if a player is able to enter a competition by putting his name down for a starting time on the day of the competition, is he then restricted to that time or can he subsequently decide to play at another time?  It is advisable to provide a condition stating that once a player has entered his name against a starting time, that starting time has the status of a time fixed by the Committee and, therefore, cannot be altered without the Committee’s authority.

Registering players at the site on the first day of competition is an excellent opportunity to familiarize players with the Committee’s expectations for the day, from reminding them of their starting time and tee, format, teeing grounds, local Rules and conditions and most importantly, the pace of play Rules for the day.  This is the perfect opportunity to distribute any tee gifts and advise of food and beverage as well as other event information.

Handouts for all items, which may be duplicated at the starting tee(s), should be available as well.  Registration should be available at least one hour prior to the first starting time.

While many competitions will have a traditional format, a Committee creating a new event must decide on the form of play it wishes to adopt.

Match Play:
Match Play, where scoring is hole-by-hole, can be singles, threesomes, foursomes or four-ball and either at scratch or on a handicap basis.

The method of determining the field in a match play competition may vary.  It may be that the field is restricted to a certain number, there may be stroke play qualifying preceding the match play stage, or the Committee may accept all entries and tailor the draw accordingly.  Guidelines for this are included in the USGA Handicap System Manual, also on-line at

In events that have stroke play qualifying, it would be normal for Committees to look for 16, 32 or 64 qualifiers in each flight.  It is essential that the Committee decides in advance how it will settle a tie for the last qualification place, e.g., by hole-by-hole play-off, by matching score cards, a preliminary round to ascertain who will progress to the first round, or by lot.

Once the requisite number of qualifiers has been established, the Committee must make the draw for the match play.  See the General Numerical Draw in the Rules of Golf, Appendix I.

For purposes of determining places in the draw, ties in qualifying rounds other than those for the last qualifying place should be decided by the order in which scores are returned, the first score to be returned receiving the lowest available number, etc.  If it is difficult to determine the order in which scores are returned, ties should be determined by a blind draw.

If there are insufficient players to complete the draw, then byes should be given in order of lowest qualifiers, i.e., if there is one bye, the No.1 player should receive it, if there are two byes, the No.1 and No.2 players should receive them, and so on.

Stroke Play:
If the competition is to be stroke play, it can be individual, foursomes or four-ball stroke play; however, in addition, it can be played on the basis of Stableford or bogey/par.

The Committee must decide how many rounds are to be played, whether or not the field is to be reduced at any stage of the competition, and whether it is to be a scratch or handicap event.

If the competition is based on handicap, the Committee may establish different handicap classes (flights) with prizes being awarded in each flight.  The Committee determine flights in advance, sort the field at the entry deadline, or by the first round of play at gross or net.

Other Forms of Play:
The Rules of Golf include references to threesome and foursome play (each player plays “some of the time” as alternate shot), Stableford (points per hole), and seldom used Bogey and Par competitions (match play against a fixed score each hole).

When a form of play is not covered by the Rules of Golf, such as a “shamble” or “scramble”, the Committee must establish Rules and conditions that will be specific to these events.  For example, in a “scramble” the Committee may need to determine how and where the ball of a player whose ball is not in play is to be dropped or placed at the spot from which a stroke is to be made.  The Rules of Golf may not be applicable in many circumstances.

In any case, the Committee must be prepared to answer any question that arises during such a competition.  The AzRC will be as helpful as possible.  It can assist in advance to help avoid complicated situations, but may not be able to resolve such after the fact.

It is the responsibility of the Committee under the Rules of Golf to establish the times of starting and, in stroke play, to arrange the groups in which competitors play.  In both match play and stroke play the Committee may permit players to determine their own starting times and, in stroke play, to decide their own groupings.


Field size:
Up to 156 players can play from one tee; with sufficient daylight (13 playing hours) 168 players can play from two sets of split tees (#1 and #10), 84 on each.

Without delays between nines, 84 players can play off two tees in a two-hour time slot.

Two tees can be used with 60 or more players.  Shotgun starts can accommodate up to 144 players on some courses; but, for more than 104 players (26 groups of four), each additional group adds approximately 10 minutes to total time of play as unavoidable tee delays occur on par 3’s and two-shot long holes.

Some stroke play formats play more quickly than others, allowing more players to compete.  These formats are foursomes (alternate shot), scrambles, chapman varieties (some alternate play on each hole), four-ball (better ball), and match play.

Course Maintenance:
Shotgun starts require complete course preparation prior to starting; single match play may result in three-hour rounds, requiring maintenance to complete earlier than usual so that course maintenance doesn’t delay play.  Double tee starts likewise put pressure on the maintenance staff to have the course ready for play earlier than when all play starts off a single tee.  Full course maintenance for a shotgun requires two hours or more from daylight (20 minutes prior to sunrise).  Some maintenance can be rescheduled to evening hours to lengthen playing time.

Course Length and Difficulty:
Selection of tees to be used and hole locations are critical factors.  The Committee should evaluate each hole based on the expected skill level of the average player in any event, and adjust tees and hole locations to provide a fair and balanced challenge for all.   In major Championships or qualifying events for significant events and where the goal is to identify the best players in the competition, the tee and hole locations should be designed to reward the highest skill levels present.   This  does not lead one to use extreme hole locations, and in fact may do just the opposite, to advantage those players capable of hitting shots nearer the hole than the majority.   The philosophy should be in all cases to reward shots closest to the hole with makeable putts.

Time Intervals Between Groups:
Compressing starting intervals will not result in more players completing play.  The total number of players able to complete play on a given course is determined by the character and length of the course itself and management of slow play.  The fastest players cannot move around a course more quickly than the average time it takes the group in front of them to play par 3’s.  This simple fact dictates the most efficient manner of selecting group sizes and starting time intervals.

If the average TimePar for a group of four on par 3’s is 11 minutes, setting starting intervals at 10 minutes will necessarily add one minute per par 3 to each succeeding group’s time of play resulting in play taking longer than expected.

TimePar Calculation Example
TimePar (the expected time for the average group to complete play)

TimePar Formula:
(Course Yardage/60) + ((Distance Green to Tee)/60)-500) + ((# Players in a group x Par+Ave Hdcp)/2) + ((Scratch Course Rating – 72.0)x10).

Course Yardage/60 gives the playing time of any group.  No matter whether riding or walking, the time to transit a hole is very close to one second per yard.   The divisor 60 converts to minutes. For example, a 7200 yard course takes 120 minutes = 2 hours of transit time.

Distance Green to Tee – 500 is the additional time to transit between holes, 500 yards being the base number included in the Course Yardage calculation. For example, a total of 1100 yards green to tee translates into an additional 18 minutes of time.

# Players x Par+Hdcp/2 is the actual stroke playing time for the average number of strokes anticipated (par + handicap).

This assumes you have chosen 30 (60/2) seconds per stroke, an average club event stroke average.  As there are many tap-ins that take little time, the par + handicap is a close estimate to a player’s actual stroke times. For example, 4 players in the group x (72 par+10) = (4 x 84)/2 = 168 minutes

Scratch rating -72 accounts for course difficulty. For example, (72.3-72)x10 = 3 minutes added for difficulty.

TOTAL TIME:  120 + 18 + 168 + 3 = 309 = 5 HRS 13 MIN.

Research on competition play has indicated no difference between time of play for a hole when all players walk or all players ride.  However, combining walkers and riders adds significantly to time of play for some groups.  When this is anticipated, one may expect serious inconsistencies in pace times between groups.

Correspondingly, providing 10min starting intervals for groups of three allows playing times on average courses of less than four hours total for normal (non-competition) play.

Given thoughtfully constructed starting intervals, and with players remaining in a reasonable position behind the group preceding them, the difference in total time of play from first to last groups will vary by one minute per group or less.

In both match play and stroke play, a tie can be an acceptable result.  However, when it is desired to have a sole winner, the Committee has the authority, under Rule 33-6, to determine how and when a tie is decided.  The decision should be published in advance.

The Committee should announce in advance the prizes that are to be awarded.  In a competition in which gross and net prizes are awarded, the procedure in the event a competitor wins both a gross and a net prize should be made clear.  It would seem reasonable to give the competitor his choice or award the player the larger prize.

The Rules of Amateur Status prohibit acceptance of a prize of retail value exceeding $750, except for prizes of only symbolic value such as a trophy or crystal.  The Committee should do their utmost to ensure that the Rules of Amateur Status are not violated.  In Open events, amateurs must indicate in advance either in the entry form or at the site that they will not accept a prize in order to avoid loss of status.  The Committee should insure amateurs are protected by stating the USGA’s policy clearly.  The Rules of Amateur Status may be found in the “Rules of Golf” book and on the USGA’s Web site,

The Committee may determine the rights of players to practice, and should state in advance any divergence from the USGA Rule 7-1.

It provides that a player may practice on the competition course before a round on any day of a match play competition, but a competitor in stroke play must not practice before a round or play-off on any day of a stroke play competition or test the surface of any putting green on the course by rolling a ball or roughening or scraping the surface.  However, the Note to Rule 7-1 states:

“The Committee may, in the conditions of a competition (Rule 33-1), prohibit practice on the competition course on any day of a match play competition or permit practice on the competition course or part of the course (Rule 33-2c) on any day of or between round of a stroke play competition.”


The “Notice to Players” contains Local Rules, variances, and procedural instructions.  This is not the place for restating any Rules of Golf.

There should be a unique and correct Notice to Players that communicates and reinforces the Local Rules and conditions of the competition.  The “Notice to Players” has six parts: (take note that is called the notice to “players”, not “competitors”, “contestants” or “participants”).  The reference to “players” allows for consistency, as everyone playing in any form of golf is a “player”.

  1. The Notice Heading should state the name of the event, the name of the facility or facilities hosting the event and the date(s) of the competition.
  2. Following should be a statement regarding the governing Rules of Golf, such as, “Play is governed by the USGA Rules of Golf and the following Local Rules.” Any other Rules references such as the NCAA handbook in collegiate competitions or conditions of the competition posted at the club may be noted for reference purposes.
  3. The first statement section contains the general information. It includes:
    • Issues defining play
    • The format of the competition,
    • Definition of the teeing grounds,
    • How the winner is determined or how qualifiers are selected,
    • How ties are to be decided and related playoff information,
    • If match play, considerations for a match extension,
    • The number of holes to be played,
    • If a qualifying event for another tournament, the number of qualifying places and the number of alternate positions,
    • If qualifying for match play, the number of places on the match play tree.
    • Any cut information when that applies
    • Identification of any flights; such as by age or by handicap
  4. Second are event-specific conditions of the competition. Certain aspects of the competition may not be common or are so important that they warrant being restated on the notice.  Items to include are:
  5. Where the scoring area is and how it is defined
  6. In stroke play, when a score card is deemed to have been returned
  7. In match play where to report the result of a match
  8. Restrictions on clothing or footwear
  9. Third are the Local Rules in effect.
  10. Special Rules for local conditions, dropping zones (where they are and when they may be used)
  11. Obstructions and integral parts of the course.
  12. Abnormal Ground Conditions
  13. When referring to Local Rules in the Rules of Golf Appendix, state the applicable Rule number (e.g., Rule 26-1) and the Appendix where the recommended Rule can be found.

The Committee signature should name those members who would be involved in settling of disputes. It is a good practice to include a phone number that can be called when the players need to contact a member of the Committee.


The Notice to Players may contain Local Rules that are specific to the golf course being played.  Rule 33-8 provides:

The Committee may establish Local Rules for local abnormal conditions if they are consistent with the policy set forth in Appendix I.

Waiving or Modifying a Rule
A Rule of Golf must not be waived by a Local Rule.  However, if the Committee considers that local abnormal conditions interfere with the proper playing of the game to the extent that it is necessary to make a Local Rule that modifies the Rules of Golf, the Local Rule must be authorized by the USGA.”

Local Rules may be introduced to clarify the course marking (e.g., clarifying the boundaries of the course, ground under repair, etc.) or to provide relief from local abnormal conditions that are not covered by the Rules themselves.  “Decisions on the Rules of Golf” provides detailed information regarding acceptable and prohibited Local Rules under Rule 33-8.

Samples of Local Rules are stated in the Rules of Golf Appendix I. Suggested Local Rules are also in Appendix 2,

Part – 2 Suggested Local Rules, later in this book.

The AzRC, while giving advice on the drafting of Local Rules and considering cases where a modification of a Rule of Golf is requested, will not interpret Local Rules which are in conflict with the Rules of Golf.

It is important to note that Local Rules must not be introduced or altered after a stroke play round has started.  All competitors in a given round must play under uniform Rules.  It is permissible when extenuating circumstances exist to alter the Local Rules between rounds in an event, such as to account for flooded portions of a course.



The Committee is responsible to see that the course has been properly and completely marked. If the Committee takes the time to accurately define the boundaries of the course and the margins of water hazards and clearly marks any areas that are to be treated as ground under repair, it reduces the possibility of awkward Rules situations arising. A properly marked golf course helps all golfers adhere to the Rules. Courses should be marked at all times, not just for competitions, so that golfers can play the game correctly.

The Committee must define boundaries, the margins of water hazards and lateral water hazards, areas of ground under repair, obstructions and integral parts of the course. When marking margins of water hazards, the Committee should take care to not disadvantage players. In Arizona, there are many “dry” watercourses. When a ball resting in a dry watercourse may be played, it is often wise to not mark the area as a water hazard as that can result in a disadvantage to the player.

The Committee should keep a record of markings for future reference, including the local Rules chosen.

Out of Bounds defines the whole area of the course on which play is permitted. It is best for all involved when out of bounds markings are as far from playing areas as possible.
The boundaries of the course must be completely defined if there are any contiguous areas where play should not be permitted, with either out of bounds or hazard to infinity.

Acceptable markings include white stakes, white lines, fence posts, walls and masonry bases for walls or any continuous physical or natural structure such that the position of the ball relative to the boundary can be easily determined.

Since out of bounds is determined at ground level, in the absence of a continuous border there must be clear visual lines of sight between the bases of marking elements, such as stakes.
When stakes are used, there should be no more than 25 yards between them where balls may likely come to rest, and no more than 40 yards elsewhere. It is acceptable to include other objects with stakes, such as large tree trunks or rock outcroppings, as long as the boundary line is continuous. Arrows as extensions of boundaries are not an acceptable marking. In the example 1, white stakes are used to define the boundary and a white line is placed on the surface to draw the boundary around the cactus and to tie into a wall.



Tie-offs that offer distinct sightlines may be employed where it is unlikely that balls will come to rest beyond them. The two tie-off stakes should be placed far enough apart (a few inches) so that a sight line to infinity can be readily determined. It is best to employ such markings when a ball coming to rest in such an area would likely be played under stroke and distance whether as lost, out of bounds, or unplayable.


The entire area of play should be identified such that the player never has any doubt.
When parking lots, clubhouse areas, maintenance areas, public walkways, adjacent holes where a “shortcut” would endanger other players, or large nurseries are near play, out of bounds is a reasonable marking. The definition(s) of out of bounds must be indicated in the Local Rules.
When white stakes are used, a white paint spot/circle should be placed on the ground at the base of each stake in case an O. B. stake is moved during play.
In addition to the suggested Local Rule for defining boundaries in Section 5, here are some more examples of language defining boundaries:

“Out of Bounds is defined by white stakes, fence posts, the bases of masonry walls, and white lines connecting these markings.”
“When a ball comes to rest beyond the boundary of the hole being played, it is considered out of bounds even if it lies within bounds of another hole.”

“During the play of hole #4, the #5 hole is out of bounds as defined by the white stakes. Such stakes are considered immovable obstructions in the play of holes other than #4.”

Margins of water hazards and lateral water hazards should be clearly and completely marked. Margins of water hazards, may serve as a boundary when defined as extending to infinity such as when play on the other side of the hazard is impractical or impossible.

Hazards may be marked by stakes or lines. When both are employed, the stakes merely identify the location of lines, and do not define the margin of the hazard.

Water hazards are defined by yellow stakes or lines. Whenever it is reasonable for the player to drop behind the hazard while keeping the point where the ball last crossed the margin between the hole and the place a ball can be dropped, it should have yellow markings. The hazard’s location or orientation on the hole has no bearing on the marking.

The first choice of color is always yellow, consistent with the philosophy that red markings are only for hazards where dropping behind the point of entry is not reasonable because of location, distances involved, or intervening vegetation.
In other circumstances, such as there is no area behind the hazard in bounds, or the area in which a ball would have to be dropped creates an unplayable lie (essentially an additional penalty because of the land contour or vegetation) or intervening trees or obstructions make play toward the hole unreasonable, red markings are employed.

When a hazard is adjacent to a green, and it is difficult for the player to see from a distance where a ball might cross into the hazard because of angles or curves in the line, it may be best to mark the area yellow and place a dropping zone in a place that provides fair relief.

Use paint lines to define water hazard margins and stakes to identify the water hazard when practicable. The use of stakes (alone) for defining the margins may be employed when applying painted lines is not practical.

When applying paint using an “inverted paint wand,” hold the wand so that the wand is pointed forward of your body far enough so you can see where the line is being applied and walk forward. This allows you to see the line as it is applied and also helps to apply a straighter line than when the wand is held vertically.

If stakes alone are used, sighting base to base is in the definition, so they must be placed so that in all circumstances the margin is easily identifiable. In most cases with clean turf, the stakes should be no more than five yards apart, less when there are severe curves or topography. When the margin of the hazard is not visible from the primary playing areas, then larger (4-foot tall) stakes should be employed to define the maximum extent of the hazards for players. This also assists them in determining point of entry. When the area where stakes would normally be placed is irregular or the ground is not suitable for placing a stake, place the stake as near as reasonable possible to the optimum spot, trying to not make the margin any farther from the hazard than is necessary.

Yellow – mark as near the fall line into the hazard as possible, making sure the line is visible from behind the hazard, using stakes where necessary to identify the location of the line. Make an effort to keep the line as straight as possible so that determining a point of crossing is easiest.
Red – mark near the fall line into the hazard, but far enough from the edge of the water so both right-handed and left-handed players will have an equitable stance and ball position after dropping. This is easily accomplished by walking a line along the break point of the slope into the hazard with the paint gun on the outside away from the hazard. In all cases, lines should be painted while walking with the paint gun on the outside. That separation provides adequate space for all players, left- and right-handed alike. When severe slopes or intervening vegetation makes it difficult to keep a simple line or the line may not be visible, it is reasonable to include high vegetation inside the hazard. This consideration is giving a player taking relief a reasonable next shot, avoiding a “double” penalty by creating a very difficult lie after a drop.

Changes of color: Often a hazard will affect shots from different directions or provide different challenges requiring a yellow marking in one area, transiting to a red marking in another. This is completely reasonable. When deciding where to change colors, consider all possible hole locations for the play of the hole, and make the change from yellow to red accordingly. Where this provides an inconsistent or difficult to determine result, then expanding the yellow marking and employing a dropping zone is appropriate.
A change of color is always identified by adjacent stakes (one red and one yellow) at the point on the line where the change occurs.

When the play of two holes is affected, and the primary effect on one hole leads to a yellow marking, but red is more equitable on the second hole, use the yellow marking paint and note on the Rules of play that in the play of that second hole, the hazard may be treated as a lateral hazard.

A consistent, smoothly shaped line is best so that players can better judge where a ball may have crossed. Intervening vegetation and obstructions can create difficulty keeping a line smooth. As a general rule, include vegetation and exclude obstructions where possible. In all cases, think about the shot that a player would have to make from a given position just outside the line, and attempt to avoid creating a secondary penalty.

“Ground under Repair” markings are to be employed only when necessary. They are not used to replace poor conditioning, but rather to ensure “similar playing conditions” in landing areas and green surrounds. It is not to create good lies for players throughout the course. On a course where conditioning is excellent, a bare area in a fairway landing area may be marked. That same condition would not be marked on a course where such areas were prevalent. Remember the adage of “Play the course as you find it!” from Richard Tufts.

Consider a local rule instead to address the problem if certain conditions are so widespread that markings might look like Swiss cheese. Consider where the condition exists. Rutted areas in fairway landing areas deserve attention, where the same areas in deep roughs or beyond tree lines do not. Strive to create a benefit for good shots, when the player has hit the ball where it is supposed to go, not when a marking will give relief for a bad shot. If the player can play a stroke to the back of the ball without difficulty or have multiple shot selections given his lie, relief should not be available. Uncomfortable lies exist throughout the course, like divots, where no relief is available. There should be no attempt to create options where they are not necessary. On the other hand, if a player’s only option because of an unusual condition is to play away from a desired target while another player a few yards away would not have to do so, then the first player may deserve something better.

Markings begin with an assessment of the quality of play of the majority of the field. Markings should target the middle 50% of the field in driving distance and skill level. The first establishes where markings begin, using a 2/3 of anticipated driving distance as the starting point on Par 4’s and 5’s. The second establishes how far from the center of the target area or the edge of greens to carry markings. Normally markings around greens should include five yards beyond the bottom of slopes.
Before beginning, tour the course driving the centerlines of holes to determine the general conditioning throughout the course. Beginning markings before a course tour leads to inconsistency. Once the tour is complete, consider what issues might be better addressed in the supplementary Rules Notice to Players. General conditions belong on the Notice; marking solves exceptions to prevailing conditions. Never mark an area covered by another Rule with one exception – a wet area that will likely be dry for a significant portion of the field where large areas of mud may exist.

If it is unlikely that more than one or two players would encounter the area, do not mark it.
It is best to define GUR no more than three days prior to an event to ensure the areas marked will not change in character.

When marking a damaged area, use smooth contours and attempt to isolate the problem from surrounding turf. Where multiple areas are adjacent to one another, look to provide clearly evident, one-step relief without creating a “Swiss-cheese” effect. On fringes and green surfaces, hold the paint can in the hand and keep markings as small as reasonably possible.

PAR-4’s and PAR-5’s:
For men’s championship events, begin 180 yards from the tee through the green, including 10 yards of the rough on either side.
For women’s championship events, begin 150 yards from the tee. Outside of that 10-yard margin, only unplayable lies in open areas are to be addressed.

For men’s senior events, member days and mixed events: begin 100 yards beyond the shortest tee being utilized, and extend 20 yards out from the edges of greens.

For women’s handicapped and senior events: begin 70 yards out from the tee.

Drive an “S” curve from fairway side to fairway side, crossing the fairway every 15 yards looking for conditions to mark. Follow this path up to the front of the green, then drive around the green, 15 yards from the surface and outside bunkers. Then walk the edge of the green, looking for issues with the definition of the adjacent bunker edges and the margin of the putting surfaces. These are the critical scoring areas where more attention to conditioning is valid. If this procedure is properly followed, a Referee can answer any question from a player with full knowledge of what was marked, why or why not.

Begin 20 yards short of the front of the green for all levels of play and extend 20 yards out from the edge of the green.

Although most obstructions are self-evident, it is sometimes advisable to identify certain items as obstructions in order to clarify matters for players who are not entirely familiar with the Rules. If there is likely to be doubt as to the extent of the obstruction, it should be clearly defined by stakes or tying white lines into the obvious portion of the obstruction.

The Committee has authority to declare any construction to be an integral part of the course with no relief option. For example, if the side of a bunker is shored up with wooden pilings, the USGA in its championships will normally declare the wooden pilings to be an integral part of the course. The choice is up to the committee.

If an artificially-surfaced road or path runs parallel to and is so close to a boundary fence that a player would incidentally get relief from interference by the boundary fence in taking relief from the road or path, consideration should be given to declaring that section of the road or path to be an integral part of the course. The section that is to be an integral part of the course should be clearly defined by stakes or lines of a distinctive color and it should be listed on the Notice to Players.

Dropping zones are used when it is impossible for a player to play from the area of relief provided under a Rule or play is deemed by the Committee to be impracticable. Dropping zones simplify relief from temporary immovable obstructions, especially where Rules committee members are not thoroughly familiar with the applications of the Rule. Dropping zones solve issues when the design of a hazard or obstruction does not fit the hole being played. Yellow markings with dropping zones solve color-change issues, allowing continuance of yellow lines where dropping behind the hazard is not feasible. Use of dropping zones is the preferred marking when the approach shot to a green must contend with a hazard that somewhat surrounds the surface and is too large for a simple marking.

It is not necessary to have zones farther from the hole than where a ball crossed into the hazard. The Committee should attempt to situate Dropping zones so that they are not closer to the hole than where the player would be dropping the ball when using one of his options under the relevant Rule. For example, if a Dropping Zone is used as an additional option for a water hazard, the Dropping Zone should be located in an area that requires the player to negotiate the water hazard with his next stroke. The distance should be similar to a ball played under Rule 26-1b. Dropping zones are not always established in the fairway, but oftentimes are located in the rough. The area selected for the Dropping Zone should be relatively flat so that a dropped-ball is unlikely to roll very much.

Dropping zones should provide a reasonable shot to the target. The use of short teeing grounds on par 3 holes is effective, requiring no additional markings. In this case, the zone is defined by the “cut of the grass”.

Locating a Dropping Zone on the green side of a water hazard in order to assist players who cannot carry the hazard is contrary to the spirit of the game and is not authorized by the Rules. The character of the hole and the position of the water hazard should be preserved when locating Dropping zones.

Means of Defining Dropping zones: Dropping zones may be identified by any of the following:
1. For Competitions, white-painted enclosed areas are preferred.
2. For Club Member Play: Use of up to four tee markers, painted stakes or short poles with identifying flags (tee markers should be a different color from any teeing ground markers, stakes should not be red, white or yellow).
3. Use of an isolated teeing area (defined by turf or cut of the grass).

Note 1: When using tee markers, stakes or the like and when using an isolated teeing area, it should be clear to the players that playing from a “Dropping Zone”, no matter how identified, requires the ball to be dropped. It cannot be placed on the surface or on a tee.
Note 2: The use of tee markers may be applicable for competitions where hole locations or other conditions would change the character of the required shot significantly from day to day.
Note 3: When a Dropping Zone is identified by other than a painted enclosed area, the Committee must clearly define the bounds of the Dropping Zone, for example:

“Dropping Zone on hole #2 is defined by the green tee markers on the right side of the fairway short of the water hazard. The tee markers define the forward and outside boundaries; the Dropping Zone is two club-lengths deep”.

Use of dropping zones as additional options for relief is the easiest way to avoid singular relief options in difficult circumstances, such as large areas where nearest point is not easily determined, or when the relief would effectively penalize the player because of intervening obstacles. In all cases, such areas should be well away from primary playing areas, generally in the rough adjacent to the problem being addressed. These are also useful in providing a clear option when several adjacent relief areas intersect to simplify the problem for players. Nothing should be done to minimize difficulty that would exist if the relief area were not present (such as casual water behind intervening trees).
Dropping zones may be placed nearer the hole than where the ball may lie. Place the dropping zone where it will be used, and in such an area that neither provides a significant penalty nor advantage.


It is important that the Committee has a clear idea of how it wishes the course to play. Each hole should be evaluated in terms of distance, tee position and hole location so as to provide an appropriate test of golf. A course that is well set up will test a player’s ability to play a range of shots using all, or at least most, of the clubs in his bag without disadvantage to any group of players.

Establishing the correct course set-up will involve knowledge of the course and may require visits to the course in advance of the competition. It is important to ensure that expected green speeds, rough heights and fairway widths are understood well in advance of the competition, discussed with the course superintendent whenever possible.

It should be the aim of the green staff and the Committee to have the condition of the course virtually identical from the first practice day to the last day of the event. Significant changes in course conditions between practice and the event itself, particularly in relation to the putting greens, are undesirable.

The Committee must appoint someone to set up the course for each competition round. It may be that the Committee appoints two people to this task with one person covering each nine. If this is the case it is essential that one is fully aware of the other’s intentions so that there is no imbalance in terms of hole locations, etc. The appointed person may be a member of the Committee or a senior member of the green staff.

This person’s duties will consist of establishing the teeing grounds at each hole, determining hole locations (if not done in advance), ensuring that bunkers have been raked, and that putting greens, fairways and tees have been cut, and checking lines and stakes defining out of bounds, water hazards, etc., to make sure that they have not been worn away or removed without the Committee’s authority.

The AzRC always expects the golf course to be in excellent condition. However, the reality is that several factors influence the course conditions at any moment in time. Nevertheless, this section describes the preferred conditions.

The SIC and the ROIC work with each course superintendent in advance of many events to ensure the best possible playing conditions are available for the event. The Tournament Committee (ex: the SIC, ROIC and the Tournament Prep Team Leader) will meet (sometimes done via telephone) prior to the event with the course superintendent and/or representatives of to finalize event conditions and services.
The Tournament Committee Representative(s) may tour the course to identify issues and course conditions that need attention, and confirm the overall plan for the event. Notes should be shared with the Tournament Prep Team prior to course preparation. The ROIC will have final approval for AzRC events.
The following provides an outline of the AzRC course condition preferences:

Fairways should be cut no longer than ¾ inch with ½ inch preferred. Fairway widths are preferred to be no narrower than 25 yards wide on short holes or 35 yards on the longer holes. The AzRC does not intend the host course to narrow or widen fairways because of a specific tournament. Fairways should be firm and fast when possible, with minimum irrigation during play days. Fairway mowing should take place not less than every other day during the tournament days and is preferred to be done in the evening hours. Watering cycles should be used to minimize frost and dew. Divots in primary playing area should be filled daily (AzRC members can assist with this duty if needed).

Yardage markers and sprinkler heads with yardages should be neatly trimmed and exposed for easy identification.

All ancillary devices indicating centerlines, and all roping, signage, and player or cart directional devices should be removed from areas of play prior to play on any tournament day.

Primary rough should be cut to no longer than 2” length (Bermuda) or 3” (cool season grasses) for the start of the competition. This preferred width is 10 yards on each side of the fairway. Rough should not be mowed during the competition unless requested by the Tournament Director.

All putting greens and practice putting greens should be consistent in firmness and speed. Soft to medium surface firmness with putting green speeds of 10.0 to 12.0 feet when measured by use of a Stimpmeter. Putting Greens are expected to be mowed daily prior to play with all edges clearly defined by use of a cleanup cut around the perimeters. Collars should be prepared adjacent to each putting green to a mowing height of approximately 1/8 of an inch for an area of 2 to 4 feet. Collar height mowing is preferred where putting greens fall off to area drains rather than primary rough.

Hole locations will be selected prior to the start of the tournament. It is suggested that hole locations for any practice rounds the days before the event be placed as close to the CENTER of the putting greens as possible, leaving the edges and corner locations for tournament play. The course superintendent will be supplied with the hole location and dot color used for each day’s hole locations. Holes should be cut in the morning prior to play and after the putting greens are mowed. It is preferred that each hole be painted on the interior with white paint.

Flagsticks must meet the requirements of the AzRC. Reflectors for range finders are approved. AzRC tournaments generally use the flags provided by the host course except for major events when flags may be provided to the superintendent. Coordinate flag usage with the SIC.

The Tournament Prep Team will mark the course in accordance with USGA requirements using the standard colors of marking paint and stakes.

Definitions of turf edges and margins should be easily determined on boundaries, greens, bunkers, water hazards, lateral water hazards, roads and paths to assist with rulings. When not clearly defined, a local rule or special marking may be needed to clarify for players.

Bunkers should be prepared prior to play and all should have the same depth of sand. Bunker liners should be adequately covered with sand to ensure they do not interfere with a player’s stance or area of intended swing. All bunkers should be free of track marks, ridges or footprints.

Areas in which play is restricted must be identified to the Course Preparation Team as they prepare the course. Planters, flowerbeds or special monuments that are identified will be specifically identified on the Notice to Players. All unidentified areas will be considered ‘through the green’ and play will not be restricted.

Areas of environmental sensitivity that have been identified by an authority having jurisdiction will be treated in accordance with the guidelines established by the USGA. Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) are marked with stakes with green tops.

Practice areas are to meet the same criteria as on-course conditions. Practice stations are expected to be set with balls daily 1 hour prior to play.

All maintenance equipment should be removed from areas of play prior to play arriving in the area. In times of the year with minimal daylight, the course superintendent needs to work closely with the SIC to minimize any disruptions during play.

There are no regulations regarding hole locations on the putting green, so there is no such thing as an “illegal” hole location. However, there are bad hole locations as well as good hole locations. Many factors affect selection of hole locations. The goal is to place holes to match the abilities of the average player in the field, which generally will be the more moderate hole placements. For championships with only very skilled players, the typical hole location will be receptive to a good shot, but still challenging.

Before arriving at the golf course to select hole locations for a competition, you should have a plan. Consider the playing skills of the players in the competition, the likely weather conditions, the condition of the course and most importantly the green speeds, firmness and availability of receptive areas. Know how long each hole is to be played and therefore which club will more often be used by the average player to reach the putting green.

Many factors affect selection of hole locations. The first and most important is good judgment in deciding what will give fair results. Do not be tricky in locating holes. If you have any doubts about a hole location, it is probably better to look for another one.

Following are specific points:
1. First, select/review the playing yardages planned for each hole, the number of players, and average skill level or levels. Review the Accuracy Table (below) to understand the relative size(s) of the expected landing areas for approach shots. These are averages for average green conditions, so excessively fast or firm greens require larger target areas.

2. Also, review the following table. For most events, the goal is to set up the course fairly in order to challenge the average player in the field. Knowing the skill, proficiency of the average player in the field and their gender(s) helps to understand the clubs likely to be used for approach shots.

3. In major championships, the goal is to present a fair challenge to the better 20% of the field, rather than the average player while still allowing the remainder of the field to play the course.
What is a “fair” challenge? A player should have an opportunity to make a putt or expect to two-putt from within 2/3 of the full target area. That full target area could overlap a bunker or water hazard, but only if a shot avoiding those has a reasonable chance for success. The intent is to give an advantage for good play. Do not select difficult hole locations that negate the advantage a player would gain by hitting the target identified by the accuracy table. Providing an open line of play to a hole from one side of the fairway while requiring a carry over a hazard from the other side of the fairway is a great way to advantage the better player.

In some cases, based on players’ skill levels or the hole designs, the better hole locations available may not easily fit the skill profile of the players, with either too little or too much of a challenge. The goal is to create a reasonable challenge hole by hole. Total yardages mean little if the individual holes are not properly presented. Avoid having luck become a deciding factor.

Example: A short par-5 with no protected hole locations may fit better as a long par-4 for expert players; or for average players a medium-length par-4 with difficult placements may need to be shortened or the hole locations made more accessible.

Know how the shot to the putting green may be affected by the probable conditions for the day — that is, wind and other weather elements, condition of the turf from where the shot will be played as well as the capability of the putting green to hold a well-struck shot.

4. The hole location should be located at least four paces from any edge of the putting green and generally farther from the edge when players are not skilled. If a hazard is close to the edge, or if the ground slopes away from the hole, the distance should be greater, especially if the shot is more than a pitch-shot. Avoid too many front placements, where a poorly struck shot finishing short of the green has a better opportunity than a putt from behind the hole. Remember that a hole on a downslope from the front of the green penalizes almost all players, and creates a result contrary to the event’s goal of rewarding the best play.

5. In choosing the exact location, there should be little or no change in slope for a three-foot radius around the hole. The area around the hole does not need to be flat, but the slope should be consistent. A player above the hole should be able to stop the ball at the hole. One good test is to drop a ball from shoulder height next to the hole. If it rolls more than a few inches, there is too much slope. Consider also the condition of nearby turf, especially taking care to avoid old hole plugs that have not completely healed that are within five feet of the desired location. When using a “Breakmaster Digital Green Reader” or a similar slope-measuring device to measure slope near the hole, consider that each increment in slope makes putts more difficult, especially when the greens are fast. It is not just the slope at the hole, but you should measure for no change within three feet of the chosen location.

6. There should be a balanced selection of hole locations for the entire course with respect to left and right positions. For example, avoid too many left locations with resulting premium on drawn or hooked shots or all par-3 holes with front right locations. In general, a majority of holes should be located center to rear of greens, with front placements used only when short irons or long run-ups are likely.

7. For a competition played over several days, the course should be kept in balance daily as to degree of difficulty. In a stroke-play competition, the first hole of the first round is as important as the last hole of the last round, and so the course should not be set up appreciably more difficult for any round — balanced treatment is the aim.

8. During practice days before a competition, locate holes in central areas not to be used during the competition.

9. Anticipate the players’ traffic patterns. Locate holes for early rounds so that good hole locations for later rounds will not be spoiled by ball marks or players leaving the putting green – that means using walk-off areas first when possible.

10. In a multiple day event, select the hole locations on each putting green that are the best locations taking into account the format of the competition. Ideally, a four-round competition should use the best four placements on each green that meet the players’ abilities.

11. If heavy rain is expected, avoid low locations while keeping holes accessible from most locations so the weather conditions do not create too difficult a challenge.

12. The final step is to develop a chart containing the location for each hole in each round, i.e., a master plan. This should be finalized at least two days before the start of a championship. This method ensures that a balance will be achieved each day and, although the preliminary work requires considerable time, it makes the job easy during the long and hectic days of a championship.

13. Immediately after the hole locations for the competition are selected, provide a chart to the superintendent so that the desired locations can be protected. A day or two in advance, it may be best to “dot” all the placements in a neutral color (blue) with the daily selections noted the afternoon prior with a different color. Remove or cover over the prior dots. This saves a great deal of time during the event.

Choosing and Recording Hole Locations for “Hole Location Sheet”

Determine direction of ideal approach shot to green. This should also be viewed from the back of the green, while understanding the topology of the hole. Mark the point where the line of ideal approach meets the front of the putting green, (This point will not necessarily be on the edge of the green, as shown on the diagram). Use a small blue paint mark or inverted “T” to establish this point. Also, put a small blue paint mark just off the back edge of the green on a continuation of this line (the centerline).

1. Calculate the length of the green by measuring along the centerline. (from the point at the front of the green in line with the ideal approach shot to the small blue paint mark just off the back edge of the green)

2. For each hole location selected, measure along the centerline between the blue-marked spots at the front and rear of the putting green to determine the hole depth.

3. For each hole location selected, measure to the edge of the green on a 90-degree angle from the centerline to determine the distance from the hole to the edge of the putting green.

If the length of the green is 35 yards, the depth measurement of the hole location 23 yards and the distance of the hole to the right side of the green 6 yards, on a standard hole location sheet it would be recorded as shown to the left for hole #1.

The Committee must appoint someone to set up the course before the competition and for each competition round. He may be a member of the Committee or the golf course superintendent. This duty should not be taken lightly. The object is to provide a strong test, but not a tricky one.
Setting up the course consists of driving the golf course ensuring the course is ready for play and establishing the teeing grounds at each hole by placing the tee markers, verifying that the hole locations are correct, ensuring that bunkers have been raked and the rakes placed appropriately and that the course is ready for play. Setting up the course includes checking lines and stakes defining out of bounds, water hazards, etc., to make sure they have not been obliterated or removed without authority as well as for marking any abnormal ground conditions needing to be defined as GUR.

All Teeing Ground areas (tee pads) are expected to be relatively flat, with minimal divots and cut to no longer than 1/2”. Tree limbs near the tee pads that might obstruct player’s shots from the tee should be trimmed and removed prior to the first tournament day.
The Preparation Team may mark the maximum yardage used during tournament days by indication of an 8” white stripe near the center of the tee pad at the rearmost point for a teeing ground to assist players in practice rounds where shorter distances may be employed. Specify the tee markers to be used in advance. All tee markers not in use should be removed, or paired together at the side of the teeing ground by the set up personnel prior to play except when necessary to accommodate regular course play.

The tee markers should be installed forward of the rear-defining stripe on clean turf each day and balanced so that the course will play about the same length in each round.

Tee markers should be placed five to seven yards apart whenever possible. If the width of a teeing ground is wider than that, players are more likely to tee-up inadvertently, in front of the tee markers. Tee markers should be set up square with the center of the drive zone, so that a line from one tee marker to the other will be at right angles to a line from the teeing ground to the center of the drive zone, or the center of the putting green on par-3’s.

Tee markers should always be at least two club-lengths forward of the back edge of the tee (or forward of the rear-defining stripe), in view of the fact that the Definition of “Teeing Ground” states that the teeing ground is a rectangular area two club-lengths in depth.

Normally, tee markers are not changed between rounds of a one-day, 36-hole competition. When players are playing rounds on multiple courses and a portion of the field plays the course each day, the tees should be left in the same location if the teeing ground is still in good condition. For par-3s and other holes where there may be a significant number of divots, the tees may be relocated slightly (typically within 1-2 yards) to give the players on the second day a more pristine area. When possible, move the markers up on one hole and back on another to balance the yardage.

Tee markers come in various shapes. While the marking pattern remains consistent, often the shape of the tee markers dictates attention to how the markers are pointed or aimed.

When tee markers are round or irregular, but generally round, they should be oriented so they can be recognized and as the golf course intended. Check with the SIC prior to setup to determine how to orient unusually shaped tee markers.

When tee markers are square or irregular, the side facing the player is to be generally pointed parallel (example 1) to the target area (landing zone or center of putting green). When the rectangular tee markers are to be placed perpendicular (example 2) to the target area, the tee markers should be square to the target area.


In some competitions, not all players will play from the same set of Tee Markers. When multiple sets are to be on the same tee pad, they are either placed adjacent or separated by at least three paces. When adjacent it is a best practice to place the Tee Markers for a flight generally playing the longer yardage to the outside.
In establishing tee markers for the first round, the Committee should place a small white paint dot on the tee at the spot where each tee marker is installed, in which case if a tee marker is moved or stolen, the Committee can reinstall it at the spot where it had been located. Two white paint dots are suggested for the second round, and so on. See the examples below:



All competitions should be conducted in strict conformity with the Rules of Golf. In order to do this, a Committee must be equipped with a supply of current Rules of Golf books and the publication “Decisions on the Rules of Golf,” which contains interpretations of the Rules. Without these essential tools, a Committee cannot hope to run a competition in accordance with the Rules.

Participants in a competition expect to be treated as fairly as possible and the only way this can be achieved is if the Rules are strictly applied to all concerned. There is no more certain a way to damage the reputation of a competition than by poor management. It may be difficult and unpleasant to be consistent and fair in the enforcement of the Rules, but to avoid taking such action can set dangerous precedents and create major difficulties in the long term. However, it must be stressed that authority should only be used to promote fair play under equal conditions.


It is advisable for the Committee to set up a registration procedure for players. When players register, they can be given all necessary information concerning the competition and can be advised of any amendments to previously published information.

In addition, the registration procedure will give the Committee an early indication if a player is not going to appear. If a player has failed to register, the likelihood is that he will fail to appear for his starting time and the Committee can make the necessary provisions, e.g., by contacting an alternate player and asking him or her to be on stand-by.

Committees are advised to appoint one of their members or an official to be available at the course while players are starting, and to empower this person to settle any problems that may arise regarding starting times, provision of markers etc.

The main responsibilities of the starter are to ensure that the players start at the time established by the Committee and, in stroke play, to issue each competitor a score card containing the date and the competitor’s name. However, there are a number of other duties that a starter must perform.

  1. Wear the correct uniform (as determined by the SIC)
  2. Arrive 20-30 minutes prior to the first starting time; pick up radio and see that starter box is complete, time of day is correct on clocks, etc.
  3. While the starting box will be prepared by the staff each day, the starter checks the contents using the checklist to ensure everything is in the box. If the starting box is not already at the starting tent, take it with you to the tent. Starter’s Box should contain:
    a. One Atomic Clock
    b. Rules of Golf Books
    c. Hard Cards for all Players
    d. Starting Times and Groupings
    e. Notices to Players
    f. Pace of Play Policy
    g. Hole Location Sheets
    h. Course Evacuation Procedures
    i. Official Score Cards and extra Score Cards
    j. Pencils
    k. Tees
    l. Permanent Markers (Black, Blue, Red, Green)
    m. Two Paper Weights
  4.  Check-in with the Staff in Charge for special instructions and note any withdrawals with ROIC and to review the “Starter Announcements” as provided by the ROIC.
  5.  Upon arriving at the starting tent, make sure all equipment is setup and ready for use. If anything is missing or not as it should be, notify the SIC.
  6. Tent area should contain:
  7. Trash container
  8. Two chair(s)
  9. Table with cover
  10.  Cooler with water, if applicable
  11. Snack tray, when applicable
  12. The tent should be installed to withstand the weather for the day.
  13. If play is delayed, while starting times are in progress maintain time records on pairings sheet. In addition, immediately notify the ROIC of any delays.
  14. When starting is complete, advise those on the radio that the tee is closed and announce the delays. Then review the delays with the ROIC.


  1. Review the Notice to Players. If there are any questions, call the Rules Official in Charge or the Staff in Charge prior to starting Players. Be prepared to explain all items on the Notice to players, when asked. Note that the review of the Notice with players should be short (a minute or less identifying only the 1 – 3 most relevant items). This is no time for a Rules seminar. Only discuss items pertinent to play. There should be no other conversations.
  2. The Atomic Clock is the official time. Start each group exactly at the time indicated on the starting sheet. Do not start any group prior to the scheduled time. Begin announcing a group so that the first player will go forward to play his/her ball at the group’s starting time.
  3. Do not delay a group because a player is late in appearing for his/her starting time. All players in a group must be present and ready to play at the time laid down by the Committee. The order of play is irrelevant.
  4. If a player(s) has not arrived at the tee before his/her scheduled starting time, refer to the procedures for Handling a “Late to the Tee Incident”.
  5. In stroke play, introduce yourself and the Referee (if applicable). In match play introduce yourself and if a match with an assigned Referee, introduce the Referee and the Observer (if applicable) to the players.
  6. Give each player a Hole Location Sheet for the day and the Notice to Players. Notify Players of any new items on an updated Notice to Players.
  7. Remind all players to be able to identify their golf balls and share that information with fellow-competitors or their opponent.
  8. Remind players to count their clubs prior to starting.
  9. Point out to the players that the phone number on the Notice may be used to call whenever there is a question or to contact an official for any reason.
  10. Advise the players of the starting order and about how much time before they start.
  11. Briefly give an overview of the Pace of Play Policy as you hand out the score cards:

a. Point out the TimePar for the round,
b. When a Checkpoint Policy is being used:
c. Point out the checkpoint holes (if applicable),
d. Explain the need to be at the checkpoint by the designated time or no later than 14 minutes behind the group in front,
e. They may have their group monitored at any time,
f. In the case of the last checkpoint, if they are “out of position” they are liable to a one-stroke penalty (There is no warning),
g. The hole completion time is determined by when the flagstick is put into the hole,
h. The appeals process will take place in scoring.
12. In stroke play, the players do not receive their own score card. The second player listed keeps the score for Player #1; Player #3 keeps the score for Player #2 and so on.

In match play without Referees, give the unofficial score card to Player 1; in match play with an assigned Referee, give the official score card to the Referee. Although a scorecard is not required in Match Play, we prefer to have hole by hole scores for media purposes.

Note: Begin announcing a group at the stipulated time (not earlier). The full name of the player should be used each time, without titles (i.e., Mr. or Ms.).

Past Champions: If a player is a Past Champion from that Championship then he/she should be announced as such for all rounds.

Before First Group of Each Wave:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the (1st or 2nd) round of stroke play of the Tournament Name, conducted by the specific golf association
For the First Group of Each Wave and Following Groups:
“This is the (Time) starting time; please welcome
From (city, state, country), Player Name)_ play away please
From (city, state, country), Player Name)_
From (city, state, country), Player Name)_
Before First Match of Each Round, Rounds 1-5:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Quarterfinal or Semifinal round of match play of the Tournament Name

For the First Match of Each Round and all Following Matches:
“This is the (Time) match; please welcome
From (city, state, country), Player Name)_ (pause) and
From (city, state, country), Player Name)_
“The Referee for this match is (Name of Referee) .” Note – Only the Referee is to be announced (i.e., the Observer is not announced).
“(First Player name) has the honor. Play away, please.”
Before Final Match:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Championship Match of the Tournament Name, conducted by the specific golf association
Starting with ### players on Fill in which day, after ## holes of Stroke Play, the low 64 players began Match Play. Each player competing in today’s 18 hole Championship Match has won five matches in order to advance to this point.
Please welcome the players.
From (city, state, country), Player Name)_ (pause) and
From (city, state, country), Player Name)_
“The Referee for this match is (Name of Referee) .” The Observer for this match is (Name of Observer).
“(First Player name) has the honor. Play away, please.”

The following is the procedure that is to be followed by a starter who is missing a player(s) on the starting tee:

About 3 minutes prior to the group’s starting time, the starter will use the radio to announce, “Group #___, the ______ starting time on hole #___, we have three minutes to go and I’m missing player name.”

About 1 minute prior to the group’s starting time, this message is repeated over the radio. At this point, the starter should also inform the fellow-competitor(s) or opponent that 60 seconds remain.
At the appointed starting time, the starter says to the other players, “player name” is late to the tee. The starter then begins to start players.

When the initial radio transmission is broadcast by the starter, a Rules Rover or the ROIC should proceed to that starting hole to assist in the application of the Rules.

If a player is “found” by another member of the Rules Committee, communicate that fact on the radio. The player must be directed to get to his/her starting tee as soon as possible to avoid a penalty. The player may be transported by anyone and in any type of vehicle.

If a player arrives at the tee prior to the group’s starting time, the starter must communicate that fact on the radio.

If the player arrives at the tee after the group’s starting time, the ROIC – not the starter – will handle the application of the penalty including communicating with the player’s marker. If the group starts late as a result of this issue, the starter must communicate this on the radio to the ROIC, all Rules Rovers and Pace of Play officials.

In stroke play, it is the Committee’s responsibility to issue for each competitor a score card containing the date and the competitor’s name, or in foursome or four-ball stroke play, the competitors’ names. The Committee’s duties in respect of addition of scores, applications of handicaps, etc., in the various forms of stroke play are clearly outlined in Rule 33-5 (for a breakdown of the responsibilities of the Committee, marker and competitor in relation to the score card, see below).

It is important that the task of recording scores is given to a responsible person or group of persons as any errors that occur during the returning of score cards can have serious consequences and can undermine all the good work that has been put into a competition. Score Cards are usually handed-out by the starter, ensuring that each player is a marker for another player.

The method of receiving score cards may vary depending on the nature of the competition. It is common for Golf Clubs to utilize a “ballot box” where completed cards are returned, although in most organized amateur and professional events there is a scorer’s office or tent. When a ballot box is in use, the Committee may consider the card returned when it is dropped into the box.

Irrespective of method used, it is essential that the Committee make it clear when a competitor is considered to have “returned his card,” after which point no alterations may be made to the card. This should be established in the conditions of the competition in case a dispute arises. For example in Championships, the following condition is recommended:

“Returning of Score Card” A player’s score card is deemed officially returned to the Committee when he has left the scoring area.”

Alternatively the Committee may consider the scorecard returned
1. When the player’s score is posted on the official scoreboard;
2. When the final results are announced;
3. When the scorecard is returned to the golf shop (with the physical golf shop area considered the ‘scoring area’).

It is the responsibility of this assignment to ensure that all official score cards are properly handled and any Rules questions or disputes of any kind are settled prior to a player leaving the scoring tent.

Order should be maintained in the scoring tent. ONLY the players and tournament staff and officials are allowed in the scoring area.

Conversations with players should be kept to a minimum and focused on the job at hand. When answering Rules disputes call the Committee to assist when conversations are long or require a ruling.

Supplies: Watch/Clock, Decisions Book, Radio, Pencil Cup, Rubber bands, Starters List, Raguzzi, Waste Basket

  1. Arrive 15 minutes before first finishing group. Check for supplies, 5 chairs and table, demarcation line or rope to define area. Two officials should be present.
  2. Record finish time and interval for each group on a Groupings and Starters List
  3. Suggest to all players that they remain until all cards for the group have been checked; a player’s card is “official” and may not be returned to a player after leaving the scoring area.
  4. Note: At some tournaments (such as with shotgun starts), the Notice to Players specifies varying definitions for when a score card is deemed returned. That information is generally printed on the “Notice to Players.” Always check with the SIC when unsure.
  5. Ask players if any have played a second ball or have a Rules issue. Call a Rover to resolve.
  6. Do not accept a card for review without two signatures and 18 hole scores evident
  7. Note: Players are responsible for the accuracy of any hole score. If a score must be changed, the marker should make the change. Erasures are preferred – no initialing is required.
  8. Verify that the scores on the card are for the player named on the card, and that they are in proper order (#1 or #10 start).
  9. Check addition – correct any errors. You are responsible for addition, not the player.
  10. Both officials should check and initial each card (see sample following).
  11. Thank the players for participating.
  12. Immediately after checking all cards, send to the computer for input and verification.
  13. Keep scorecards in time-order for a first round, score order with earliest first in subsequent rounds.
  14. When the final group has completed play, notify the OIC and return supplies to HQ.
  15. Return the score card to the scoreboard for computer input and posting.

The Committee should have a number of representatives on the course to observe play, be available to give rulings and otherwise assist players. Everyone assigned to the course as a Rules Official should be knowledgeable about the Rules and understand their role and authority.

There will only be roving or stationary Rules Officials covering areas of the course who will monitor pace of play and give rulings when called upon to do so.

It is advisable for a meeting involving all Rules Officials to be held prior to the competition. At such a meeting the Rules Official in Charge may cover the Local Rules, Conditions of Competition, etc., and answer any questions that may arise. Such a meeting will assist in ensuring that any abnormal conditions on the course are handled consistently and that any specific policies are clearly understood.

In Club competitions, it is rare to have any Rules Officials positioned on the course during play. However, a player is entitled to a ruling, even if this means proceeding under Rule 3-3 in stroke play and seeking a decision once the round is completed. Therefore, the Committee should appoint someone who is knowledgeable in the Rules to be present during the competition to resolve Rules problems. No Committee member or official should give a decision on a Rules matter unless he has been authorized by the Committee to give final decisions in its name.

The Committee may position forecaddies (AKA Spotters) in areas where there is a possibility of balls being lost, or course marshals may be asked to fulfil this role. Such a policy can assist with pace of play if balls can be found quickly or if players can be made aware that a ball has not been found and, therefore, are encouraged to play a provisional ball.

However, if the use of forecaddies is to be successful, there must be a clear and efficient signaling policy so that the status of the ball is clear to the player concerned. It is even more vital that the system is understandable when the forecaddie is signaling with reference to whether a ball is in or out of bounds.

The worst-case scenario is that a player puts a second ball into play and it subsequently transpires that his original ball was in bounds. In this type of situation, it is advisable that the player plays a provisional ball even if the signal is indicating that his original ball is out of bounds. The forecaddie is not authorized to decide if a ball is in bounds or out of bounds.

It is understandable that Clubs, public courses, resorts and competition organizers may have differing views on what constitutes acceptable pace of play. However, it is a fact that slow play detracts from the enjoyment of the game for many golfers, and few golfers are heard to complain about play being too quick.

Rule 6-7 governs in the event of slow play. It provides that “The player must play without undue delay and in accordance with any pace of play guidelines that the Committee may establish.” The penalty for a breach of Rule 6-7 is loss of hole in match play and two strokes in stroke play, and for a repeated offence, disqualification. However, Note 2 under Rule 6-7 states:

“For the purpose of preventing slow, play, the Committee may, in the conditions of a competition (Rule 33-1), establish pace of play guidelines including maximum periods of time allowed to complete a stipulated round, a hole or strokes.

In stroke play only, the Committee may modify the penalty for a breach of this Rule as follows:

  1.  First offense – One stroke;
  2. Second offense – Two strokes.
  3. For subsequent offense – Disqualification”

It is a matter for the Committee in charge of a competition to formulate its own pace of play guidelines, although in practice the nature of such a condition will be dependent on the number of Committee members available to implement it.

A Committee must be prepared for inclement weather, and players and those involved in running the competition must be able to recognize the signal that means that the Committee has suspended play. The situation where players do not know whether play has been suspended or not, or some players know and others don’t, must be avoided.

A competition should not be suspended simply on account of rain, unless the rain is so heavy that it would be unfair to require players to continue. Generally, play should not be suspended unless the course has become unplayable or there is danger to the players.

Although a Committee should not suspend play unless absolutely necessary, it is the responsibility of the Committee to do everything possible to protect players from bad weather and lightning and, therefore, no chances should be taken in this respect. Although Rule 6-8b governs when play is suspended by the Committee, there is a Note to this Rule that states:

“The Committee may provide in the conditions of a competition (Rule 33-1), that in potentially dangerous situations, play must be discontinued immediately following a suspension of play by the Committee. If a player fails to discontinue play immediately, he is disqualified unless circumstances warrant waiving the penalty as provided in Rule 33-7.”

If the Committee introduces the condition for potentially dangerous situations, it overrides the provisions of Rule 6-8b in terms of discontinuance of play. This condition is in effect at all AzRC Championships (see Appendix I, Part B in the Rules of Golf).

Adverse conditions, including the poor condition of the course or the existence of mud, are sometimes so general that the Committee may decide to grant relief by temporary Local Rule either to protect the course or to promote fair and pleasant play. The Local Rule for “Preferred Lies” and “Winter Rules” should be used judiciously and withdrawn as soon as the conditions warrant. The recommended wording for such a Local Rule is contained in Appendix I, Part A of the Rules of Golf. It is not sufficient to simply say “preferred lies/winter Rules” apply.


Golf, for the most part, is played without a Rules Official being present. However, the Committee in charge of a competition may appoint a Referee and perhaps an Observer, to accompany play or it may assign Committee members to particular parts of the course to assist players with the Rules (Rules Officials). A Rules Official must have a good knowledge of the Rules, patience, a helping persona and the desire to provide great service to players. A Rules Official may spend all day on the course without being called upon to make a ruling. However, he must remain alert and be wary against becoming a “spectator” as a question may arise when least expected.

Another important general aspect of Refereeing or making rulings is the manner in which the Official performs his duties. When golf is played at a level where Referees or Rules Officials are present, the players concerned may be under considerable pressure. A brusque, rude or unsympathetic approach may be unhelpful and could have a detrimental effect on a player by disturbing his concentration. Therefore, a Referee should attempt to perform duties with understanding and tact. It is important to sense when to talk to a player and when to be silent. All tournament workers and especially Rules Officials and Referees should never engage in conversation that isn’t relevant to the task at hand.

A Rules Official should never make a ruling when he is not certain. He should call a Rover or another Official for an opinion. Therefore, a Rules Official requires not only a good knowledge of the Rules, but also an awareness of his duties and responsibilities to get the ruling right and an appreciation of how best to handle various Rules situations.

A Referee is defined in the Rules of Golf as one who is appointed by the Committee to decide questions of fact and apply the Rules. A Referee must act on any breach of a Rule that he observes or is reported to him. This also applies to a Rules Official.

At certain times, it may be appropriate to restrict a Referee’s ability to give a decision on a certain aspect of the Rules. For example, declaring areas of ground under repair. Often the authority to declare ground under repair is reserved for a Rover or the Rules Official in Charge in order to ensure consistency over the type of conditions relief is granted for. Equally, it may be the policy of the Committee that only designated Referees are permitted to time players in order to ensure the pace of play policy is enforced uniformly over the entire field.

It is not sufficient for a Referee merely to give a correct decision when appealed to; he must also at all times be sufficiently alert to observe accurately and to interpret correctly all the events that may occur during a round. Within the scope of these duties, he is assigned to a match to help ensure that it will be played fairly under sporting conditions.

This raises the question of the Referee’s ethical position when he sees a player about to break the Rules. The Referee is not responsible for a player’s willful breach of the Rules, but he certainly does have an obligation to advise players about the Rules. It would be contrary to the spirit of fair play if a Referee failed to inform a player of his rights and obligations under the Rules and then penalized him for a breach that he could have prevented. The Referee who tries to help players to avoid breaches of the Rules cannot be accused of favoring one player against the other, since he would act in the same manner towards any player and is, therefore performing his duties impartially.

The following are examples of actions that a Referee may take in order to prevent a breach of the Rules:

  1.  If a player is about to play another ball because the original ball may be lost or out of bounds, ask the player whether it is a provisional ball.
  2. If a player at any time plays a provisional ball or puts a second ball into play, ensure that the player can identify both balls.
  3. If a player tees his ball ahead of the markers, draw his attention to it before he drives.
  4.  If a player is about to lift a loose impediment in a bunker or water hazard, remind him that his ball is in a hazard.
  5. If a player is about to adopt or adopts a wrong dropping procedure, call his attention to it and point out the correct procedure.

Another important general aspect of Refereeing is the manner in which a Referee performs his duties. When golf is played at a level where Referees are present, the players concerned may be under considerable pressure. A heavy-handed or unsympathetic approach may be detrimental. A Referee should attempt to perform duties with understanding and tact.

Beginning with the first tee, the following comments offer guidelines on how a Referee should act in certain situations:

At the First Tee:
If the players in a group or match are not experienced being accompanied by a Referee, remind them that the role of the Referee is to be of assistance to the players should a doubtful situation arise, but also to prevent Rules violations when possible and otherwise to point them out when they do occur. A Referee does not have the ability to ignore a violation. The Referee should personally instruct the players as to his/her role in applying the Rules and what considerations the players should observe, such as clearly indicating concessions, observing the honor and pace of play requirements.

On the Tee:
The Referee should be in position to determine that a player is playing from the teeing ground, preventing an error when possible.

Between Tee and Green:
If there may be doubt which players should be first to play, the Referee should arrive in the area ahead of the players to decide the order of play and indicate so to the players as they arrive to avoid confusion.

The Referee should observe each player’s strokes from a reasonable distance so as not to interfere in any way or make a player feel uncomfortable, but close enough to prevent a Rules violation.

Being in position to see each stroke played will permit the Referee to determine questions of fact, such as whether the ball has moved at address. This will also allow the Referee to observe a player in a position where Rule 13-2 may come into play, such as taking a stance where bushes may be bent or the area of swing affected. The Referee can guide the player in his actions to ensure there is no violation of the Rule.

On the Putting Green:
The Referee should be in position to observe the lifting and replacing of balls, such as when a ball marker is moved to accommodate another’s line of putt in addition to determining which player is away, especially in match play where the ball farthest from the hole must be played first. This position will also permit the Referee to hear when concessions are made to avoid later disputes.

In any situation where a player may wish to take relief, the Referee should advise the player not to touch his ball until he has decided upon his best course of action (which the Referee should never influence other than to provide information on the Rules when requested). The Referee should never leave a player until the ball is again in play properly, and to ensure that a ball in play is not again lifted through a misunderstanding of the application of the Rule.

At times awkward situations will arise. The Referee should be firm and positive, taking plenty of time to explain the Rule, offer a second opinion when appropriate, but tactfully insisting on proper application of the Rules. When confronted with a difficult situation, it can be helpful to determine the player’s intention. This can clarify the situation prior to an inappropriate action as well as offering the player an opportunity to compose himself. Should the Referee not be able to determine an appropriate decision, in stroke play he may suggest a second ball be played and the decision reached at scoring. In Match Play no such opportunity exists – the player must make a decision while the opponent may wish to make a claim. In all such cases, the Referee should strive to avoid such a confrontation.

One final note: often a player may unintentionally be careless in his observance of a rule. When a violation has not occurred, the Referee should as soon as appropriate following the incident point it out to the player to avoid future situations where a penalty may be applied.

In match play, when a group completes a hole, the Referee should always announce the players’ scores and state of the match to ensure the players are in agreement before beginning a subsequent hole or leaving the final green.

During match play, a Rules Official not assigned to a match as a Referee has limited authority. He may answer Rules questions when asked and he may intervene when he observes or it is reported to him that a match has agreed to waive a Rule (Rule 1-3), a match is unduly delaying play (Rule 6-7, and any Pace of Play Policy), or there is a reason to intervene under Rule 33-7. Otherwise, a Rules Official may not intervene, even if a breach of another Rule is observed or reported.

An Observer is defined in the Rules of Golf as one who is appointed by the Committee to assist a Referee to decide questions of fact and to report to him any breach of a Rule. Before play, it is important for a Referee to reach an understanding with his Observer as to their respective duties. Usually it is best for the Observer to work ahead of the match as much as possible. The Referee should stay close to the players at all times and be readily available to answer questions.

When Referees are watching play either by chance or through having been assigned to a particular place on the course, their duties are different from those of a Referee who is appointed to accompany a group or match.

In match play, unless a Referee is assigned to accompany the players throughout a match, he has no authority to intervene in a match other than in relation to Rule 1-3, 6-7 or 33-7. It is a matter for the opponent to decide if he wishes to make a claim (see Rule 2-5). The Referee’s presence on the course is solely to assist players in the event of a claim. In stroke play, the situation is different. Every competitor has a direct interest in the play of all other competitors. Every Referee, therefore, has a duty to represent the interest of every competitor in the field. Thus, a Referee assigned to a particular area or zone on the course must act on any probable breach of the Rules that he may observe. This may be done by immediately questioning the competitor about his procedure. Also, the Official will be called upon to make decisions on the course. However, stationary Rules Officials usually have limited authority to make final decisions. They should clarify their authority with the SIC or the ROIC.

The Rover is the overseer of play on the course, the interpreter of decisions, and the force of the Rules during play.

The first job of the Rover is to review course markings and use of local Rules ahead of play to ensure all considerations are adequately described, that the players may have a fair opportunity to display their skills.

Situating other Rules personnel and volunteers on the course, changing positions where needed, and overseeing the pace of play are the principal responsibilities during play. It is not so much the Rover’s job to govern play as to govern those who do, from starting to scoring, while touring hole by hole during play.

Officials may require second opinions for players, and the Rover should recognize that such a request will likely entail an initially negative response from the player. Although the Rules must be applied correctly, a Rover must also ensure that the facts as presented to him in a ‘second opinion’ case are identical to the first opinion.

As other Rules persons are located on a course, the Rover should review with them the opportunities for rulings in that area, reviewing the likely Rules and Local Rules that may come into play, and the unusual situations that could arise, such as ground under repair requests from secondary playing areas.


In most events, participants will be required to complete an entry form. The Committee should ensure that the entry form is unambiguous on matters such as eligibility, competition format, dates and practice dates, any conditions applying to the competition and the closing date for entries.
In addition, it is advisable for the Committee to include caveats reserving the right to arrange and/or alter the conditions, to accept or refuse any entry at any time without giving reason for its decision and stating that the decision of the Committee is final on all matters.

If the Committee wishes to introduce dress restrictions (e.g., prohibiting the wearing of shorts, denim etc.) during a competition, these restrictions should be made clear to the players involved. In addition, it is important to state whether the dress code also applies to caddies. Players and caddies must be made aware of any restrictions well in advance of the competition.

The Committee may place restrictions on the commercial identification on clothing or equipment. If so, these prohibitions should be outlined in the event’s entry form.

Depending on the nature of the competition, the Committee may wish to provide a scoreboard giving round scores in stroke play or round by round winners in match play. If at all possible, the scoreboard should be located near the 18th green, but not in a place where it will come directly into play or where it will distract players before they enter the scoring area.

In some events, there may be on-course leaderboards with hole-by-hole scoring. If this is the case, players should be made aware that either they or their caddies will be asked to provide information on their scores to scoreboard personnel.

In some events, there may be a requirement to report scores electronically or to scoring personnel stationed at specific holes. If this is the case, players should be made aware that they will be asked to provide information on their scores to scoring personnel.

In order to accommodate early starters, the Committee should ensure that practice range, golf shops and catering facilities are opened at least one hour before the first starting time. Similarly, players at the end of the field should have the opportunity to use such facilities for up to an hour after they leave the last green.

For handicap competitions in which handicap strokes are used on specific holes during the course of play, the Committee should determine the order of holes at which any handicap strokes awarded should be taken for each course being played (Rule 33-4). This is referred to as stroke allocations and should be printed on the score card.

In match play formats, a handicap stroke should be an equalizer rather than a winning stroke and should be available on a hole where it most likely will be needed by the higher-handicapped player to obtain a half. Difficulty in making par on a hole is not an effective indicator of the need for a stroke.

In stroke play formats (four-ball stroke play and Stableford), the Committee may want to develop a separate allocation table based on difficulty relative to par.
For more information about handicapping and establishing stroke allocations, see the USGA Handicapping Manual available at

The term “course record” is not defined in the Rules of Golf. However, it is generally accepted that a record score should be recognized as the official “course record” only if made in an individual stroke play competition (excluding bogey, par or Stableford competitions) with the holes and tee-markers in their proper medal or championship positions.

It is recommended that a record score should not be recognized as the official “course record” if a Local Rule permitting preferred lies is in operation.

On balance, it is felt that rakes should be placed outside bunkers parallel to the line of play as noted previously. However, the superintendent’s preferences should be honored whenever possible. The placing of rakes inside bunkers is appropriate in some situations. Rakes left in bunkers should be placed in the flat part of the bunker, avoiding slopes.

The Etiquette Section in the Rules of Golf and Rule 33-7 allow for disqualification of a player who commits a serious breach of etiquette. For guidance on what constitutes a serious breach of etiquette, see Decision 33-7/8 in the Decisions on the Rules of Golf.

This publication contains permissible modifications to the Rules of Golf for use by disabled golfers and is available from The USGA website ( The publication is not intended to provide a revision of the Rules of Golf as they apply to able-bodied players, but rather it is an attempt to adapt the Rules of Golf for groups of disabled golfers so that they can play equitably with an able-bodied golfer or a golfer with another type of disability.

It is important to stress that the Rules modifications only apply if the Committee in charge of a competition has included them. They do not apply automatically to a competition involving disabled golfers.