COVID-19 – Related guidance on the Rules of Golf | Scottish Golf
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COVID-19 – Related guidance on the Rules of Golf

Posted on 20/03/2020

The R&A has received a number of enquiries from organisers of golf competitions seeking guidance on the Rules of Golf in view of the COVID-19 outbreak. The purpose of this communication is to provide some guidance on the Rules of Golf.

Further to guidance provided by The R&A and after consulting with CONGU, the official handicapping authority for all golf governing bodies in Great Britain and Ireland, Scottish Golf would like to inform its members that any of the options listed below can adopted and count for handicapping purposes in Scotland with immediate effect.


In view of concerns around handling and exchanging scorecards (which may be in paper or electronic form as already provided in the Rules), on a temporary basis, Committees may choose to allow methods of scoring in stroke play that do not strictly comply with Rule 3.3b, or do not comply with the normal methods used under Rule 3.3b.

For example:

  • Players may enter their own hole scores on the scorecard (it is not necessary for a marker to do it).
  • It is not necessary to have a marker physically certify the player’s hole scores, but some form of verbal certification should take place.
  • It is not necessary to physically return a scorecard to the Committee provided the Committee can accept the scores in another way.


Committees may choose to adopt the following policies on a temporary basis:

  • Requiring that players leave the flagstick in the hole at all times. It is a matter for the Committee to decide whether it establishes this policy by way of a Code of Conduct or Local Rule, and whether it provides a penalty under the Code of Conduct or for a breach of the Local Rule.
  • Not have flagsticks at all. 


No modifications to the Definition of Hole are offered, but if a Committee chooses not to follow the requirements in the Definition of Hole, which may also have an impact on the Definition of “Holed”, the Committee should consult its national association for guidance on whether scores submitted in such circumstances are acceptable for handicapping purposes.

The following will be deemed acceptable for use in qualifying competitions:

Clubs can invert the cup so that there is only a shallow cup allowing players to remove the ball without touching the flag please see photo below.


If rakes have been removed from the course, or if the Committee has requested that rakes not be used, it is recognised that bunkers may not be smoothed as well as when there are rakes on the course. But it is recommended that no modification is made to the Rules of Golf in such circumstances, and that players are requested to smooth bunkers using their feet or a club. 

If, as a result of there being no rakes, the Committee decides to introduce a Local Rule relating to bunkers, scores submitted under the following Local Rules acceptable for use in qualifying competitions:

Preferred lies in bunkers within 6 inches to allow players to get out of un-raked areas or bunkers marked as GUR.

If you have any further queries relating to Handicapping and qualifying competitions, please email [email protected]