If you live and play golf in a “seasonal” area of the country, chances are your 2017 golf activity may soon be coming to a close. Many golf associations in the northern and Midwest parts of the country are now or will soon be observing an inactive season for handicap purposes. The USGA defines the inactive season as “the period during which scores made in an area are not accepted for handicap purposes determined by the authorized golf association having jurisdiction in a given area.”
This means your local state or regional golf association likely has the jurisdiction in your area and they are responsible for declaring the duration of any inactive season. A golf club located within the area covered by an authorized golf association must observe any inactive season established by the golf association (a club or facility may not “opt-out” of this requirement.)
Since course ratings are based on the difficulty of a course played under normal mid-season playing conditions, the change in off-season conditions could affect the ease or difficulty of play, based on those conditions (turf grass is harder, perhaps grass is dormant, no leaves on trees, green speeds are slower, the course is not irrigated regularly, etc.) This is why based on the variety of off-season conditions, that a golf association will declare an inactive season.
Most northern and Midwest golf associations declare their inactive season anytime from mid-October or November in the fall through mid-March or April in the spring. If you get a nice day to play in the fall during your facilities inactive season, you may not post your score for handicap purposes. Check the USGA Handicap Active/Inactive Season Schedule to see if your state participates in an active or inactive season.
Some parts of the country do not observe an inactive season and therefore are active year-round (most sun-belt states and the southern parts of the country.) The USGA Handicap System Manual states, “Scores made at a golf course in an area observing an active season must be posted for handicap purposes, even if the golf club from which the player receives a handicap index is observing an inactive season.” This means if a player is a member of a facility in Minnesota and she plays golf in Arizona in February, any scores played in Arizona are acceptable and must be posted at the player’s Minnesota facility. If the player is a member of a golf facility in Arizona, scores must be posted to the player’s Arizona club. If not a member of an Arizona facility, upon return from the trip to Arizona, the player must post these away scores prior to the next handicap index revision.
Reminder, if you are in a part of the country where there is an inactive season and you play during that inactive season, take advantage of a nice fall day to play since you won’t be posting your scores for handicap purposes. If you travel to a year-round posting area, you must post any scores played as away scores when you return home (unless you are a member of a second facility that has a year-round season, you would post your scores at that facility.)
Most golfers are used to playing stroke play – where you play your own ball and count your strokes. An alternative format is Match Play – where you are playing head-to-head with another golfer, rather than playing stroke play against an entire field. While both formats require the same skills, Match Play offers a unique type of strategy since the Rules are slightly different from stroke play.
The most common differences are the ability to concede putts thereby allowing your opponent to not have to hole out every putt. Other unique Rules in stoke play have a one or two stroke penalty whereas Match Play the penalty is loss of hole (since the format of play that is scored in a hole-by-hole competition.)
The following are some strategies you may elect to use when playing Match Play against an opponent or you and a partner may use if playing a team Match Play event:
Be first on the tee – the obvious reason of playing first from the tee means you have the honor for having won the previous hole. Secondly, by playing first, you set the tone for the hole and have a slight advantage – if you hit a booming tee shot, your opponent will feel the pressure to “keep up.”
Get off to a fast start – set the tone for the match by trying to play well right away at the first hole. If you are successful and win multiple holes early in the match, you may close out your opponent early and not have to play all 18 holes.
Play your game by maintaining your usual pace of play. If you like to play quickly, don’t let a slower player bother you and get you out of your comfort zone. If the opposite is true and you are playing with someone much faster than you like to play, go with your normal routine so you don’t feel rushed (but still be cognizant of keeping pace.)
Play smart and play to your strengths. During an important match is not the time to try to carry the 40-yard water hazard from 200 yards away. Know your shot strengths and always think ahead – play the shot to layup short of the hazard, hit the next shot on the green and think two-putts for par or bogey. If your opponent hits in the water, you now have an advantage by playing smart and knowing the strengths of your game.
Watch your opponent. If she changes her pre-shot routine, chances are she is feeling some pressure. Since match play involves mental toughness, watch for any changes that allow you to have an advantage.
Utilize your partner. If you are playing in a team event with a partner, take advantage of each other. If one of you has a bad hole, pick up the ball and move to the next hole. You may help each other read putts and talk about your strategy. It may help you feel calmer by having a partner to talk with rather than having very little conversation with an opponent.
Be cautious conceding putts – one nice element of the match play format is the ability to concede putts. As a player, go into your match planning to hole every putt. With that mindset, you will be pleased when your opponent offers a conceded putt. Be careful when giving your opponent a conceded putt. If you continually give putts (especially early in the round), the opponent may expect that you will continue to concede putts. A great strategy is to give a few putts early in the round, then make the opponent hole all putts as the round continues. A missed putt could make a difference in the outcome of the match so keep that in mind when conceding putts.
By knowing some simple match play strategies and trying them during your next match, you may be able to win your match.
If you live in a part of the country where the seasons change, no doubt you’ve heard that fall golf is the best time to play. The demand on the courses ease up since many golfers don’t play after Labor Day, so it’s easier to get a tee time and pace of play is usually faster. You may wear a light pull-over and have an opportunity to walk the course. With the temperatures and leaves falling, it does pose a problem with playing fall golf, since a golf ball can easily get lost in a pile of leaves on the course.
Many golfers in the fall invoke “The Leaf Rule” even though there is no such approved rule in the Rules of Golf. In the interest of pace of play, some courses will institute a local rule in the fall allowing the natural accumulation of leaves to be treated as ground under repair. If you or your partners are positive your ball is lost under the leaves, you may find the nearest point of relief from the spot where the ball last crossed the outermost limit of the leaves and take a drop, without penalty, within one club-length of that point, no closer to the hole (Rule 25-1, Decision 33-8/31).
If you are playing a course that hasn’t allowed such a local rule, those pesky leaves are loose impediments and may be removed without penalty. Be extremely careful when looking for your ball so that it doesn’t move while you are searching in the leaves. Under this rule, you can't move your ball when removing leaves or it's a one-stroke penalty and the ball must be replaced. If you find your ball in leaves piled for removal, you can drop it, without penalty, within one club-length of the nearest point of relief, no closer to the hole (Rule 25-1b).
In a bunker, remove as many leaves as needed to see part of the ball. Do not touch the leaves with your club while making a backswing or you will incur a two-shot penalty in stroke play (Rule 13-4c) or lose the hole in Match Play.
Golf purists feel the “Leaf Rule” is a cop-out to allow golfers to “cheat” with a free drop for hitting a not-so-good shot (that landed in the leaf pile.) They feel the local rule should only be in effect on holes with piles of leaves – stating that most golfers don’t request the “leaf rule” when their ball is in the fairway or on the green.
Take advantage of the fall weather and get out and play!
The word “Fall” often times brings to mind football games, bonfires, caramel apples and falling leaves. Most golfers also know that the fall is the best time to play golf. Hopefully you are taking advantage of the fall weather and getting a chance to play some golf. Other than falling leaves and an occasional frost delay, the fall is a great time to enjoy the beauty of the course. Here are some hints to help you enjoy golf this fall, even when the temperatures start to drop.
• Dress in layers – Now more than ever, golf clothing is made for comfort, performance and appearance. Some are designed to wick moisture away while helping to keep you warm. Layers are good for cool mornings and allow you to “remove layers” as the temperatures rise during the day. Make sure the layers still allow you to swing comfortably – no one wants to feel like the “Michelin Man” trying to swing a golf club.
• Wear a winter cap, headband or ear muffs – Remember while playing in the cooler temperatures, the fashion police don’t care what you look like. You will be bundled up in layers so it’s important to keep your head warm as well.
• Wear winter golf gloves – Many golf glove manufacturers make gloves designed for golf in cool climates and they are sold in pairs – like rain gloves but a bit thicker. (They are also great for light-weight gloves for driving your car in the winter!) If you don’t like playing with winter golf gloves, you can at least wear them between shots. Another alternative is cart mitts that allow you to wear your regular golf glove and simply remove the cart mitts before hitting.
• Use hand warmers – Many camping and sporting goods stores carry the dry-chemical hand warmers. These are great to have in your pockets to keep your hands warm between shots. Also change golf balls every few holes, using a ball from your pocket that’s warm – it won’t feel so hard coming off the face of your club.
• Walk if possible – As we all know walking on the golf course is great exercise plus the walking helps you stay warm. Remember just as riding a cart can be “cooler” in summer months when the temps start to drop, that same “breeze” feels like instant air conditioning. If you do ride a cart, bring a stadium blanket as a seat cover that can double as a warming layer if needed and use the windshield, if provided, to keep the wind off your face. Some people have gone so far as to use a cart cover for cool weather and use portable propane tanks made specifically for golf carts (they fit right in the cup holders) as heaters.
• Take one more club – the golf ball tends to travel a shorter distance in cold weather, so take one more club than you would during warmer months.
• Swing easy – This goes along with taking one more club (above). Since you are using one more club, swing easy and make good contact with the ball. If you swing hard and hit a “stinger” you will feel it in the club shaft and in your hands. No one wants a “stinger” with cold hands.
• Plan your winter get-away – as the temperatures start to drop, it’s a great time to plan your winter get-away to a warm climate destination. Visit EWGA Golf Course Network to visit a facility that welcomes EWGA members (usually at a discount)!
Over the course of the next month, eight EWGA Cup Regional Qualifiers, presented by Baird Private Wealth Management, will take place. Teams from each Regional Qualifier will advance to the EWGA Cup Finals at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, FL on October 27-28. As you are getting ready for the Regional Qualifiers, here are some important Match Play Rules to remember as you prepare for competition.
Match Play: Match Play is a format of play that is scored in a hole-by-hole competition. The side that holes its ball in fewer strokes than its opponent wins that particular hole. In a handicap competition, the side with the lowest net score wins the hole.
Winning: The side that wins the most holes, wins the match. When a side has won more holes than there are holes remaining, the match has been won. Therefore a match can be won before all 18 holes have been played. For example, if you win the first 10 holes, you’ve won the match because there are only 8 holes left to play.
In The EWGA Cup, each winning match is awarded 1 point toward the team total and halved matches are awarded ½ a point.
Format: Team event comprised of 18 holes of Four-Ball on Day 1 and 18 holes of Singles on Day 2. 100% Handicaps will be used to determine the number of strokes a player gives or receives for a match.
Match Play Terms:
Status of a Match: The status of a match is expressed relationally. Match play scoring does not indicate the number of holes won by a player, but rather how many more holes than his opponent a golfer has won.
Scores: "Up" indicates that a side is winning by a number of holes and "down" indicates that a side is losing by a number of holes.
If the final score is “1-up” it means the match went the full 18 holes with the winner finishing with one more hole won that the opponent.
If the score is 3 and 2, it means the winner was determined before reaching the 18th hole. It means the winner was three holes ahead with two holes to play (so the match ended on hole #16).
If the score is “2-up” it means the match went dormie with one hole to play – the leader was 1-up with one hole to play and the leader of the match won the 18 hole to end “2-up.”
If the score is “4 and 2” it means the winner took the match dormie with 3 holes to play, (3 up with 3 holes to play) then won the next hole for a final score of 4 and 2.
Halved Hole: A halved hole occurs when opponents score the same on a specific hole. The opponents are said to have "halved" the hole and the status of the match remains the same.
Dormie: A match is said to be dormie when a side has won as many holes as the number of holes remaining to be played, i.e. 3 up with 3 to play. The worst the leading team can do at this point is tie (by losing all the remaining holes).
All Square: A scoring term that indicates a match that is tied.
Conceded Putts: In match play, conceded putts are allowed. Your opponent may concede a putt at any time, whether it’s close to the hole or not. Conceded putts should only be offered, not requested.
Fellow-Competitor vs. Opponent: When playing in stroke play, the people in your group are your “fellow-competitors” while in match play, the golfer you are playing against is your “opponent.”
Loss of Hole: Many penalties in stroke play are two stroke penalties, however, in match play the penalty is usually loss of hole.
We are more than half way through the 15 EWGA Semi-Finals, with just a few more to go! Winners from all flights in all 15 Semi-Finals will advance to the EWGA Championship Finals at Hot Springs Village on October 6-7 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Whether you are gearing up for the EWGA District Semi-Final or the EWGA Championship, here are some important things to keep in mind as your prepare for competition.
Golf is full of technology – not just for equipment and golf balls – but also when it comes to distance-measuring devies. Let's figure out which distance-measuring device is right for you and how you can use it to your advantage on the golf course.
According to the Rules of Golf, the use of distance-measuring devices (DMDs) – also known as golf rangefinders – has been allowed for use during a round since 2006 only when an optional Local Rule is introduced by a golf course or the committee in charge of a specific competition. In 2014, the USGA and R&A allowed the use of conforming DMDs in all USGA amateur qualifying events and championships. This has made the use and popularity of golf rangefinders more common.
There are two basic types of golf rangefinders – laser and GPS (using global positioning satellites). There are many types and brands of rangefinders on the market – from handheld GPS and laser units to watches and even units that clip on a hat, golf bag or belt. Basic units offer distance readings to the front, middle and back of the green. More advanced units show the entire hole graphic and allow for exact distances to water hazards, bunkers and other landmarks on the golf course. Your use of technology and level of details are two things to consider when purchasing or using a rangefinder.
If you enjoy technology, the features on some GPS units show the hole graphics. Many units require you to download courses that you plan to play. These types of rangefinders are great if you play multiple courses or pre-load courses you plan to play on a golf trip. They often times require a subscription to download the courses, but if you like details and don’t mind downloading and syncing to a computer, these units are extremely helpful when playing. If technology isn’t something you enjoy, go with a unit that has basic course information pre-loaded and doesn’t require downloading.
GPS units are great to use when you can’t see the hole or need lay-up distances to specific hazards (something most laser units can’t determine). Some GPS units have the ability to measure your drive (or other shots) which help you determine how far you hit specific clubs.
If you enjoy playing fast and want just basic information, you may prefer laser rangefinders – where you just “point and shoot” to get the yardage. One advantage laser rangefinders have over GPS units is they typically don’t require charging after every two or three rounds. Laser rangefinders are very accurate but require a steady hand to hold when looking for the yardage. They are easier to use since they don’t require downloading a course and purchasing a subscription service.
Many golfers prefer to download various rangefinder apps for use on smartphones. These provide a great solution to buying a separate golf rangefinder, however, are known to accelerate the battery use on the phone, plus require buying the app to download, then sometimes not all courses are available.
Regardless of which type of rangefinder you select, take advantage of the technology to help you determine accurate distances. You will find it helps with pace of play (you won’t be walking around looking for distances on sprinkler-heads) and you will save a few strokes on your score.
For every golf lesson you take, you and your instructor should ask each other what you want the outcome of the lesson to be. Unsurprisingly, you'll find that the response is usually one of these three answers:
But when is the last time that you really looked at your game and determined how to accomplish any of the above?
Laird Small, PGA Professional and Director of the Pebble Beach Golf Academy shares a few tips on how golfers can improve their scores by reviewing seven key areas of their game.
So what are you waiting for? Go and incorporate a few of these drills and stretches into your practice and let us know how you improve and lower your score!
Summer weather conditions are often perfect for quick thunderstorms to develop. The National Lightning Safety Institute offers the following information:
"Lightning is arbitrary, random and unpredictable. Five percent of annual United States lightning deaths and injuries happen on golf courses. Everyone associated with the game should participate in lightning safety."
The United States Golf Association (USGA) makes available warning posters and stickers to inform players about lightning safety tips. As a golfer, you should know that the USGA Rules of Golf (Rule 6-8) allow players to discontinue play if they believe there is a danger from lightning. No other sport has any regulations related to lightning.
A good rule for everyone is: "If you can see it (lightning), flee it; if you can hear it (thunder), clear it." I have also heard people say, “If you hear thunder, you will soon see lightning.” There was a friend of an EWGA staff member who was struck and killed by lightning a few years ago – on a sunny day on the golf course – so it isn’t anything to mess with. There is no round of golf so important to risk your life.
Some guidelines from the Golf Course Superintendents Association (GCSA) include:
If you find yourself stranded in the open, go to a low place such as a ravine or valley. (Note: If you feel a tingling sensation and the hair on your arms stands up, squat in a baseball catcher's position, balancing on the balls of your feet, feet together, arms in front of your knees. If in a group, members of the group should keep at least 15 feet apart).
Follow the above advice to avoid the storms and play your way through a safe, fun and golf-filled summer.
Most golfers are lucky to take advantage of a few long weekends or a few days off that around summe holidays, including Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. Many facilities during the summer offer activities with patriotic themes such as a Red, White and Blue tournament or a Flag tournament.
Red, White and Blue Tournament: Courses in the past have used three traditional colors to differentiate the teeing grounds – red tees for the forward area, white tees for the middle area and blue tees for the back teeing ground. (If a course doesn’t use these tee colors, you can refer to the event as Forward, Middle and Back Tournament.)
Here’s the format if you play in a Red, White and Blue Tournament.
Typically this event is handicapped so golfers are using net scores to determine which teeing ground to begin play on each hole. Tournament organizers could also determine which tees to use based on handicaps or average scores – having single digit handicappers use the back tees, bogey golfers using the middle tees and double bogey golfers using the forward tees.
Flag Tournament: Another popular golf format associated with patriotic summer holidays is a Flag Tournament. In this event, each person has an allotted number of strokes, then plays golf until his/her strokes run out. Then you stick a flag in the ground where your final shot is played. (For Fourth of July events, each player is given a small US Flag with their name on it.) Typically the fairways and greens on holes 15 through 18 are decorated with small US Flags and adds some fun to a Fourth of July golf course event.
Usually the allotted number of strokes is determined by adding your course handicap to the course par. So if your handicap is 13 and the par is 72, you would put a flag in the ground where you played your 85 shot from that day. The golfer who has his/her flag the farthest is the winner. This format is also called “Last Person Standing” or “Tombstone.” (You can use this same format called “The Tombstone Open” for a Halloween theme.)
Use these suggested formats to spice up your weekly game with friends or family. Regardless, use this time to recharge the batteries and connect with the people you care about while playing a round of golf.
Golf carts are a primary source of revenue for golf courses, so in most instances when you play in a tournament you will be riding in a golf cart. It’s important that you are aware of golf cart rules and etiquette. When you check-in with the golf course staff, they will let you know the basic rules and safely of cart operation. They are designed for golfer safety as well as to protect the golf course turf (teeing ground, fairway and greens).
If you are a new golfer, you may feel more comfortable having a more experienced golfer drive the cart. The first and MOST IMPORTANT thing to check before driving a cart is to make sure your golf bag is fastened securely to the cart. You don’t want it to fall off – and risk being embarrassed.
When taking a golf cart, the golf staff will let you know if it is “Cart Path Only” (no carts allowed on the course at any time - mainly due to wet fairway conditions). If the conditions require “Cart Path Only,” take several clubs (plus an extra ball in case yours is lost or not playable) to save time from walking back and forth across the fairway and slowing down play. If the course specifies “90 Degrees” (drive your cart along the cart path to the spot of your ball and then make a 90 degree turn onto the course and drive to your ball).
You want to operate a cart with safety in mind. Limit the use to two passengers - don’t try to fit three people in the seat or let someone stand on the back by the golf clubs. Resist the urge to hang legs and feet outside the cart – some golfers have suffered broken ankles and legs from hanging legs and feet outside the cart. Operate the cart safely by observing signs directing you to stay on the cart paths or away from protected nature areas.
The general rule is to keep 30 yards away from greens, approaches and collars. Many courses will have ropes or signs showing when carts are required to return to paths. Additionally, most courses will ask you to stay on the cart path on par 3 holes. You want to use caution when going up or down hills and avoid sharp turns where the tires could damage the turf. Avoid water puddles, water hazards and of course bunkers. Making sharp turns, coming to an abrupt stop or driving too fast can also damage the turf. Cart use could change during the day, depending on weather conditions and may be restricted following a heavy rain.
Many newer carts offer USB outlets to charge a rangefinder or phone. Resist the urge to look at your phone while driving a golf cart – the same “rules of the road” apply to operating a golf cart.
It’s good cart etiquette to park the cart at the rear of the green or wherever allows you the shortest exit when done putting. Avoid the urge to park with two wheels off the cart path – many people leave two wheels on the path and pull off partially into the grass. A good analogy is – would you park your car in a driveway with two wheels in the driveway and two wheels in your yard? Then don’t do that on the golf course – if another cart approaches (maintenance, ranger or beverage cart) they can pull around your cart.
If using a push cart, the same rules apply, but of course, don’t walk with your cart across the green. (Some courses with sand greens will allow push carts to be taken across the green, but generally you should not do this, unless told by golf course staff that it’s allowed.) Some facilities also ask that push carts not get used on the turf between a bunker and green – on the collar and approaches. You also want to leave a push cart at the rear of the green as a courtesy to the group behind you as well as to allow for a quick exit.
Following these established guidelines for golf cart and push cart use will add to your enjoyment on the golf course.