By Scott Hovde, Assistant Director, Handicap and Course Rating Administration
What determines a tournament score in terms of posting for handicap purposes?
The USGA Handicap System™ is based around the concept of a player’s potential, and scores made in a tournament setting can provide a very good indication of such potential. One of the procedures within the System deals with identifying players who have at least two exceptional tournament scores in their scoring record
An exceptional score is defined as a score with a differential of 3.0 or more below the player’s current Handicap Index®. This brings up the issue of which scores should be posted as tournament scores. There are a number of factors when determining whether a score should be posted as a tournament score. One is whether the score is made in a competition organized and conducted by a Committee in charge of the competition. Another is whether the competition identifies a winner(s) and is played under the principles of the Rules of Golf.
Essentially we are looking to identify significant events where a player would have much more riding on the outcome of the round compared to a casual round of golf. So a club championship, member-guest, etc. would be the type of event meeting this requirement. In addition, qualifying round(s) for significant events such as local, regional or state championships would all typically meet the requirement for a tournament score.
Regular play days at a club and any non-competitive events such as social outings should not be identified as tournament scores, as they do not carry the same significance as formal events. The number of total eligible tournament scores in a player’s scoring record is one of the factors used in determining if a player qualifies for a handicap reduction, and if so, the amount of reduction. Over-designating tournament scores will actually reduce the effectiveness of identifying those who perform exceptionally in the more significant events.
The ultimate decision of whether to designate a competition as a tournament score is up to the Handicap Committee in consultation with the Committee in charge of the competition. If a club or committee is unsure whether a competition should be considered a tournament score, they can contact the authorized golf association or the USGA Handicap Department for guidance.
I would tend to agree with you. The match play tournaments strike me as significant events where the player has more riding on the outcome compared to a casual round of golf.
You can ask them to ask the question from the local authorized golf association, but I suspect they're not going to want to do that.