To ensure your handicap remains an accurate representation of your current ability, you should continue to submit general play rounds throughout the year.
As colder and wetter weather sets in, your club may implement changes to the course or local rules which affect whether you can submit a score to your handicap.
Your club should always be the first port of call to find out whether the set-up of the course is suitable for scores to be submitted.
However, it does no harm to equip yourself with a knowledge of the standard rules of handicapping and winter golf to help settle lively debates when they inevitably occur on the first tee!
Can I submit a score with preferred lies?
Between 1 October and 30 April, clubs can implement a Local Rule for ‘preferred lies’ to help protect areas of the course and allow fair play.
For scores to be acceptable for handicapping, preferred lies can only be taken on closely mown areas (cut to fairway height or shorter) with the ball within 6” of the original lie, and no closer to the hole.
Can I submit a score using a fairway mat?
To protect the natural surfaces of the course during ‘preferred lies’ periods, a club may enforce the use of artificial fairway mats on tees and fairways.
Golfers can still submit scores for handicap purposes when using fairway mats where the mat is placed as near as possible to where the ball lay. The ball may be cleaned when lifted.
If mats are compulsory on all parts of the course (including areas cut longer than fairway height), your score is no longer acceptable for handicapping purposes.
Similarly, if a Local Rule is for players to move the ball from the fairway to the rough for their next shot, your score is not acceptable for handicapping.
Can I submit a score when the bunkers are GUR?
You may find some or all of the bunkers on your course are marked as ‘Ground under Repair’ during challenging weather conditions.
In these circumstances, the bunker is treated as ‘Abnormal Course Conditions’ and free relief can be taken as per Rule 16.1 of the Rules of Golf.
Can I submit a score when my course is using winter greens or winter tees?
Yes, although there are limits to how much the course can be changed.
For scores to be acceptable, no more than two temporary greens are allowed to be used on an 18-hole course, and no more than one on a nine-hole course.
There are also restrictions over temporary alterations to the distance of a course for scores to be acceptable for handicapping.
A tee must not be more than 10 yards different to the fixed measurement point (the permanent yardage marker you will see by the side of the tee box) of that tee.
The total distance of an 18-hole course must not be more or less than 100 yards different to its measured length, while a nine-hole course must not be more or less than 50 yards different.
There are two exceptions to this, which are when your club has applied for a Temporary Rating for the course, or had a shorter layout of the course officially rated.
In these two circumstances, you should be able to select this option when registering your intent to submit a general play score on the My England Golf app.