Rules & Guidelines
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Pace of Play
Pace of Play The GOLF Channel Am Tour policy leaves the responsibility for maintaining the pace of play where it belongs, with the player. Efficient pace of play is a huge factor of a successful and positive GOLF Am Tour experience for all participants in accordance with Rule 6-7 of the USGA(r) Rules of Golf.
The first group(s) must finish their first nine holes within the maximum allotted time established by the committee (typically, this time will be 2 hours 15 minutes). If the lead group finishes over the maximum allotted time after nine holes, each player in the group will be assessed a 2-stroke penalty on their 9th hole. The first group(s) off each tee must also finish 18 holes within the maximum allotted time established by the committee (typically, this time will be 4 hours 30 minutes). Failure to finish under this maximum allotted time for 18-holes will result in a 2-stroke penalty, which will be assessed to the score on the final hole of play. Exception: If the lead group(s) are held up by public play that was sent out before them or that began on the opposite tee, they will be exempt from the pace of play penalty(s) if they finish over their maximum time but within 14 minutes of the group ahead of them.
A 2-stroke penalty will be assessed to any group failing to complete their 9th hole within 14 minutes of the group in front of them AND over their maximum allotted time A 2-stroke penalty will be assessed to any group failing to complete their 18th hole within 14 minutes of the group in front of them AND over their maximum allotted time Players are advised of the following:
- Rules officials are not required to notify a player and/or group that they are behind. This is the responsibility of the group and each individual player in that group.
- Each group is responsible for monitoring its own pace. Being in position means to be immediately behind the group in front of you.
- As a courtesy to each player, the pace of play policy will be reiterated on the starting hole.
- As a courtesy to each player, the maximum allotted time will be on your official scorecard.
- If a player is penalized three (3) times during the season on the Major/National level that player will be suspended from tournament play for a minimum of six (6) months.
- If a player is penalized three (3) times during the season on the local level that player will be suspended from tournament play for a minimum of six (6) months.
CONCERNED PLAYERS AND APPEALS
A player concerned about slow player(s) in a group should first remind that player of the pace of play policy and encourage them to play more efficiently. The concerned player may, before or after penalties are assessed, request an Official to monitor the group. If a player is identified as holding up the pace of the group, penalties may be applied to that player and rescinded from the others. Appeals for exceptional situations will be considered only in the scoring area after the completion of the round and prior to the return of a player’s scorecard.
Am I required to have a USGA® Handicap Index® to play on the GOLF Channel Am Tour?
Yes. If you have an active USGA Handicap Index® that we can view to verify, we will use that to initially place you into a flight to begin to compete. However, if you do not have an index, you would need to get one before we can ‘flight’ you to compete. There are many options for handicaps depending on the area that you live. Some of the popular ones are GHIN, Handicomp, Golfnet, TheGrint, etc. For more information on handicapping, click here.
Can I register for a tournament without a USGA® Handicap Index®? How will I be properly flighted for my first tournament if I do not have a USGA® Handicap Index®?
Yes, you should go ahead and register online for the tournament(s) of your choosing. Your local Tour Director will then be notified and will contact you prior to the event to discuss your proper flight, factoring any and/or all of these components:
- Past scorecards you have collected
- Previous handicap number/service information
- Typical 18-hole score
- Historical scoring information
- Past tournament scores
- Tee yardages that you normally play from
- Lowest two scores you have shot in the past year
I already have a USGA® Handicap Index®. Can I use this information to be flighted for my first event?
Yes, you should go ahead and register online for the tournament(s) of your choosing. Your local Tour Director will then contact you to obtain your current USGA® Handicap Index® number and history. This will aid in your flighting for your first event. Once you have competed in four or more Am Tour tournaments you will then be flighted based off your Tournament Index (which only factors in rounds played on the Am Tour). If you egregiously out-perform your flight in any of your first few events, you will be moved up a flight to protect the field.
If I have an existing USGA® Handicap Index® (i.e., GHIN®, Golfnet, etc.), can I import my scores into the GOLF Channel Am Tour?
Unfortunately, no. GOLF Channel Amateur Tour creates a ‘Tournament Index’ based on your scores shot while competing in GOLF Channel Am Tour events. The USGA® Handicap Index® you track outside of GOLF Channel Am Tour is used to ‘initially’ place you into a flight, but is then superseded by the ‘Tournament Index’ to flight players after four (4) tournament rounds have been completed and posted.
Am Tour Tournaments are flighted based off a Tournament Index. How is this index generated?
You need a minimum of four rounds played on the Am Tour to receive an official Tournament Index. The Tournament Index is generated from a player’s Am Tour tournaments only, and does not factor non-Am Tour scores you post to your profile. When you compete in Am Tour tournaments your local Tour Director will automatically post those scores into your Am Tour Players Club profile, helping to generate this Tournament Index. A previous USGA® Handicap Index® and any other historical data will be used to flight you before you achieve four rounds on the Am Tour.
When I look up other players who are in my flight, some of their handicaps fall below our flight’s handicap range. Why am I playing against players that have handicaps different than mine?
You are initially looking at that player’s USGA Handicap Index®. On the Am Tour, we flight players based off their GOLF Channel Tournament Index (scores posted from playing in GOLF Channel Amateur Tour tournaments only), which assuredly falls within your flight’s handicap range. We use the Tournament Index and not the USGA Index because players’ scores in GOLF Channel Amateur events are knowingly verified by their competitors and the local Tour Director. The USGA Index is used as a guide to help flight players initially before one plays in Am Tour tournaments, and can be used in conjunction with the Tournament Index to flight players if there appears to be a substantial variance between the Tournament Index and the USGA Index.
When will my Tournament Index be revised?
The Am Tour National Office will revise Tournament Indexes on the second day of each month . Tour players will continually be subject to re-flighting based on revised Tournament Indexes.
Where can I view my GOLF Channel Am Tour Index and/or another members GOLF Channel Am Tour Index?
Am Tour Players can find their GOLF Channel Am Tour Index and search for the Tour Index of other Tour players by clicking here.
How many scores do I need to post to have an established handicap index®?
According to the USGA®: “The Handicap Index® formula is based on the best Handicap Differential(s) in a player’s scoring record. If a player’s scoring record contains 20 scores, the best 10 Handicap Differentials® of the most recent 20 scores are used to calculate the Handicap Index®. As the number of scores in the scoring record decreases, the percentage of scores used in a scoring record decreases from the maximum of the best 50 percent. If the scoring record contains 9 or 10 scores, only the best three scores (30 to 33 percent) in the scoring record will be used. Thus, the accuracy of a player’s Handicap Index® is directly proportional to the number of acceptable scores posted. A Handicap Index® must not be issued to a player who has returned fewer than five acceptable scores.”
What does a “trend handicap” mean?
According to the USGA®: “A “trend handicap” is an estimate of a handicap, based on one’s posted scores. It may include unreviewed scores posted since the last handicap revision date. The trend is not an official Handicap Index and its use is not recommended by the USGA®. You will have a “trend handicap” until you post the required amount of scores that gives you a certified Handicap Index®. After you have established a Handicap Index® and continue to post scores you will also have a “trend handicap” each month, revealing where your handicap is trending toward before the next revision date.”
What is Equitable Stroke Control (ESC)?
According to the USGA®: “”Equitable Stroke Control” (ESC) is the downward adjustment of individual hole scores for handicap purposes in order to make handicaps more representative of a player’s potential ability. ESC sets a maximum number that a player can post on any hole depending on the player’s Course Handicap. ESC is used only when a player’s actual or most likely score exceeds the player’s maximum number based on the table in Section 4-3.”
What is the current method for adjusting my hole scores under Equitable Stroke Control (ESC)?
According to the USGA®: “All scores for handicap purposes, including tournament scores, are subject to the application of Equitable Stroke Control (ESC). This mandatory procedure reduces high hole scores for handicap purposes in order to make handicaps more representative of a player’s potential ability. ESC is used when a player’s actual or most likely score exceeds a maximum number, based on the table below, for the player’s Course Handicap from the tees played. (For nine-hole Equitable Stroke Control table, See Section 10-5c.) Example: A player with a Course Handicap of 6 has a maximum number of par plus two strokes (double bogey) for any hole. A player with a Course Handicap of 13 has a maximum number of 7 for any hole regardless of par. A player with a Course Handicap of 42 has a maximum number of 10 for any hole. A player without an established Handicap Index must use the maximum Handicap Index of 36.4 for men, or 40.4 for women, converted to a Course Handicap, to determine a maximum ESC number. There is no limit to the number of individual hole scores on which an Equitable Stroke Control reduction may be made.”
When I play at my home course can I put my scores in at my club and have them show up on my GOLF Channel Players Club Handicap?
No, you will need to manually input those scores into your online Am Tour Players Club profile. You must also input hole by hole scores, not just total score.
How do I correct an erroneous score that has been posted to my handicap?
Please contact the GOLF Channel Handicap Support at GCATSupport@GolfChannel.com
GOLF Channel Am Tour Flights GOLF Am Tour is divided into six separate flights and two divisions: Open & Senior.
Senior flights for players 55 and over will be offered at the Senior National Championship but may or may not be available at local events or Majors depending on participation.
Players are flighted initially based upon their lowest and most current USGA Handicap Index. A current USGA Handicap Index includes a minimum of six (6) scores within the past calendar year. Once a Tour Player has completed at least four (4) tournament rounds on the GOLF Am Tour, that player will have obtained a GOLF Channel Tournament Index, which only factors scores played on Tour.
GOLF Channel Tournament Index will be used to coincide with the appropriate flight if it is lower than a player’s USGA Handicap Index. Similarly, the Tournament Index may be used to coincide with the appropriate flight if it is higher than a player’s USGA Handicap Index, however, this request must originate from the player and adhere to the policies, procedures, and timing explained below.
For more information on Handicaps, please see the Handicap FAQs.