Criteria for Forming a Club

According to the USGA Handicap System manual: A “golf club” is an organization of at least ten individual members* that operates under bylaws with committees (especially a handicap committee) to supervise golf activities, provide peer review, and maintain the integrity of the USGA Handicap System (see Club Compliance Checklist, Section 8-2m and Decision 2/7). A golf club must be licensed by the USGA to utilize the USGA Handicap System. A club can obtain a license directly from the USGA or in conjunction with its membership in an authorized golf association that is already licensed by the USGA and that has jurisdiction in the geographic area that includes the principal location of the golf club, like Washington Golf (See Appendix F.)

Members of a golf club must have a reasonable and regular opportunity to play golf with each other. They must be able to return scores personally, and these scores must be readily available for inspection by others, including, but not limited to, fellow members and the club’s Handicap Committee.

* Note: For administrative reasons, some authorized golf associations may require a golf club to have more than the USGA minimum of ten members in order for the golf club to be a member of the authorized golf association.

Three Types of Clubs

Type 1  The members of a Type 1 club are located at a single specific golf course with a valid USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating where a majority of the club’s events are played and where the club’s scoring records reside; or

Type 2  The members of a Type 2 club are affiliated, or known to one another, via a business, fraternal, ethnic, or social organization. The majority of the club members had an affiliation prior to organizing the club; or

Type 3  The members of a Type 3 club had no prior affiliation and a majority of the recruiting and sign up of the membership is done by solicitation to the public (e.g. newspaper, Internet).

Clarification of Term “Golf Club”

Q: Membership in a golf organization is open to any player living within a large geographic area. In general, the members play at different golf facilities within the area, and do not normally play golf with one another. Is this organization a golf club within the meaning of the term in Section 2?

A: No. Section 2 states that in order for an organization to be considered a golf club, “members must have a reasonable and regular opportunity to play golf with each other.” Also, the members of a golf club who are issued a Handicap Index must be from a small defined geographic area, for example: the residence or business address of each member of the golf club must generally be within approximately a 50 mile radius of the principal location of the golf club. (applies to Type 2 and Type 3 only) (Revised)

Accordingly, a checklist entitled Requirements for Compliance with the USGA Handicap System can be found below. A club must be able to answer “yes” to each question before applying for membership within the WSGA.

Club Requirements Checklist

To determine if your club complies with the USGA Handicap System, use the following checklist (the applicable section of the USGA Handicap System Manual is listed parenthetically after each requirement).

Does your club:

  • Meet the USGA definition of a golf club?
  • Have a handicap committee composed mostly of members and chaired by a member? (Section 8-1)
  • Make it possible for a player to record the correct USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating with each posted score from every set of tees? (Sections 5-2 and 8-2b and c)
  • Require the posting of all scores made at home and away? (Section 5-1)
  • Require use of USGA procedures to adjust hole scores before posting? (Section 4)
  • Require that nine-hole scores be posted? (Section 5-2c and 5-2d)
  • Insist that the principles of The Rules of Golf be followed? (Section 5-1d)
  • Follow the revision schedule and posting season of the authorized golf association having jurisdiction in the region? (Section 8-3a and c)
  • Ensure that all acceptable scores are entered correctly? (Section 5-2)
  • Perform computations and adjustments in accordance with the USGA Handicap Formula? (Sections 8-4 and 10)
  • Make current scoring records and a Handicap Index listing of all members readily available for inspection by others? (Section 6-3)
  • Reduce or increase a Handicap Index of any player whose handicap does not reflect the player’s potential ability? (Section 8-4c)
  • Notify an authorized golf association when permanent changes have been made to the golf course so that the association can issue a new USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating? (Section 14-5b)
  • Include the letter “L” after local handicaps, which exceed the USGA maximum limits of 36.4 for men and 40.4 for women? (Section 3-4)
  • Utilize the current USGA Course Rating and Slope Rating issued by an authorized golf association? (Section 14)
  • Have a representative from the golf club participate in a USGA Handicap Seminar (whether conducted by the USGA or an authorized golf association) including passing a test exhibiting knowledge about the system?
  • Have a signed license agreement in place with a local authorized golf association or the USGA prior to issuing a Handicap Index?

If the answer to all of these questions is “yes,” then the golf club is following the USGA Handicap System and may issue USGA Handicap Indexes to its members. If the answers are “no,” then the club should contact the authorized golf association or the USGA to determine if any action is necessary to achieve compliance.

Apply for a Club License