Qualifying Competitions – FAQ’s


What is the Standard Scratch Score (SSS)?

  • The SSS is a measure of the playing difficulty of a course.
  • It is the score a scratch golfer is expected to return in competition play, given normal mid-season course and weather conditions.

What is the Competition Scratch Score (CSS)?

  • Competition Scratch Score (CSS) is calculated for each qualifying competition based on the performance of the participating field relative to the SSS of the course.
  • The CSS takes into account the influence of the weather and course conditions on the scoring ability of the field.
  • Examples include wind, soft wet fairways, awkward pin positions etc.
  • If the scoring on competition day is generally high due to say bad weather conditions, the CSS calculation is likely to increase above the level of the SSS.
  • The CSS can vary from SSS-1 to SSS+3, Reduction Only.

What is a Stableford Nett Double Bogey Adjustment?

  • The Stableford/Nett Double Bogey Adjustment is the capping of individual hole scores at a maximum equivalent nett double bogey.
  • The purpose of the Stableford/Nett double bogey adjustment is to place a limit on the maximum score that can be recorded at any hole in order to make your handicap more representative of your potential ability.
  • It allows you, where you do not complete a hole(s), to continue recording your score for handicapping purposes.

Status of Competition – Qualifying or Non-Qualifying

Can a Qualifying Competition be run with preferred lies in play?

Yes, provided:

  • It is during the Preferred Lie Period (1st October to 30th of April).
  • All other requirements for Competition Play Conditions have been satisfied.
  • A Local Rule for the use of preferred lies has been set out in the Conditions of the Competition.

Can a Qualifying Competition be run with fairway mats in play?

Yes, provided:

  • Their use is restricted to the Preferred Lie Period (1st October to 30th of April).
  • All other requirements for Competition Play Conditions have been satisfied.
  • A Local Rule for the use of Fairway Mats has been set out in the Conditions of the Competition.

Before play commences, can a qualifying competition be run where handicaps are reduced but not increased (Reduction Only)

Absolutely not. A club committee has the authority to deprive certain competitions of their status as Qualifying Competitions provided they do so before play commences. When a competition is declared Non-Qualifying, handicaps can neither be reduced or increased. Competitors should be aware of this before play commences.

There are only two situations when Handicaps can be reduced but not increased. These are:

  • A competition where application of the CSS calculation determines that the competition is Reduction Only (R/O)
  • When a competition has been abandoned for any valid reason, reductions of handicap are made on the basis that the CSS is equal to the SSS.

Can a club run Qualifying Competitions when artificially surfaced tees e.g. Astroturf are in use?

Yes, provided that the artificial tees are located at positions that relate to a Measured Course or the altered course has been allocated a Standard Scratch Score by the Union. All other requirements for Competition Play Conditions are also in place.

Can a club run a Qualifying Competition when a local rule is in place allowing relief for an embedded ball ‘through the green?’

Yes, a Local Rule is allowed by Rules of Golf ‘Appendix  Part B 4a.

Relief for Embedded Ball’ in which a specimen Local Rule is provided.

Would the introduction of a local rule permitting dropping the ball from the fairway into the 1st cut of rough, in order to protect the fairway, render its Competitions Non Qualifying?

Yes, Such a concession is not within the Rules of Golf. To make it a qualifying competition alternative solutions such as the use of preferred lies or fairway mats is required

Does the cutting of the rough/greens, or the watering of the greens, during a Competition render the competition Non-Qualifying?

No. Although not desirable, it is not unusual for course maintenance work to be carried out during the course of a competition.

It is inadvisable, however,to conduct a Qualifying Competition on a day in which an operation such as hollow coring that has a disruptive influence on the playing of the game is being conducted.

A number of bunkers on our course are being completely renovated; may we still run Qualifying Competitions?

Yes, provided that the club has, in accordance with Decision 25/13, re-defined the bunkers being renovated as being through the green (thus removing their status as a hazard) and defined the relevant bunker areas as ground under repair.

If the club does not re-define the bunkers as through the green they remain hazards, and players are required to proceed under Rule 25-1(ii).

What is the status of an 18 hole play-off to settle a tie in a stroke play event?

A play-off over 18 holes is deemed to be a means of settling a tie in a stroke play event and is not classed as a Qualifying Competition for handicap purposes.

Competitions Scores – Played Outside CONGU jurisdiction

A player returns a score(s) from a competition organised by a club affiliated to a handicapping authority other than CONGU. Is it a Qualifying Score for handicap purposes?

No. These scores should not be used directly to adjust handicaps and can not be accepted as Away Scores.

They may be recorded by the Handicap Committee and used in support of the Annual Review or General Play Adjustment.

Capping of Handicaps

May an Affiliated Club impose a limit of handicap to some of their Qualifying Competitions e.g. insist that a player with a Playing Handicap of 27 competes from a handicap of 18?

This is contrary to the spirit of the UHS. Players must be allowed to play from their established handicap.

The player must play off full handicap and the correct Playing Handicap must be used when calculating the Competition Scratch Score.The organising Committee may then adjust the scores for the purpose of awarding prizes for the competition.

Competition Scratch Score

Calculation of the Competition Scratch Score When a Club Runs Two Separate Competitions On the Same Day

  • When a club holds two or more separate competitions on the same day in which all competitors play only one round, a separate Competition Scratch Score must be calculated for each competition unless all competitors play from the same tees and use the same format.
  • If any of the competitions are over more than one round on the same day, then a separate Competition Scratch Score calculation must be made for each round.
  • In a Qualifying Competition where players compete for prizes in different classes, divisions or Handicap Categories only one CSS shall be calculated for the overall field.

Why is a separate CSS not calculated for each handicap category?

Low handicap players frequently pose this question on occasions when the CSS is SSS – 1. A statistical analysis of a wide range of CSS’s calculated separately for each handicap category and compared to the overall CSS has shown that the system does not favour or discriminate against any of the Handicap Categories. Although there are occasions when one or other of the Handicap Categories, if calculated separately, would result in a CSS that differed from the overall CSS, on average there is very close agreement between the overall CSS and the separate CSS’s calculated for each handicap category.

An additional problem in calculating a separate CSS for the Category 1 golfer is that he represents, on average, less than 10% of the field in a typical club competition. This is often a statistically meaningful figure and could result in erratic CSS values. The larger sample provides a more balanced determination of the CSS.

Electronic Distance Measuring Devices