It is not the intended purpose of the below guidance to either encourage or discourage anyone from playing the game, but rather, in our governance role, to help golf course operators, committees and golfers better understand how the Rules of Golf and Rules of Handicapping apply to the various questions we have received.

Click here for the USGA’s full statement on Rules and Handicapping guidance during the COVID-19 era.


  • Players may be restricted from touching or removing the flagstick penalties for doing so may be enforced.
  • Flagsticks may be removed entirely but players should be given an indicator of where the hole is located on the putting green.

Bunkers and Bunker Rakes

  • Rakes may be removed from bunkers.
  • Encourage players to smooth bunkers with their shoes after hitting out of them.
  • Disturbed areas in bunkers may be treated as ground under repair, allowing free relief within the bunker.
  • Bunkers may be treated as ground under repair entirely, allowing free relief outside the bunker under Rule 16.1.

Scorecards and Scoring

  • Certifying scores does not require a physical signature or scorecard.
  • Electronic scoring by email, text, or etc. is allowed.

Modifications to the Hole; Not Requiring that Players Hole Out

  • Holes may be blocked or filled in so that the ball is unable to fall to the bottom.
  • Cup liners may be raised above the surface of the green to prevent the ball from going in the hole entirely.
  • Players should post their Most Likely Scores as outline in Rule 3.3 of the Rules of Handicapping to determine a score for the hole.

If a Committee takes any of the above actions, it is at the discretion of the Committee whether scores would be acceptable for handicap purposes.

Click here for the USGA’s full COVID-19 Rules and Handicapping FAQ.