by rhart | Mar 25, 2020 | From The Pro, Golf News | 

Most health experts agree that playing golf during the pandemic is a good way to stay healthy and reduce stress during these unusual days.

raised golf hole

And as long as the proper precautions are taken, the USGA is doing its part to adapt its governance of the game to these unprecedented times.

One of the adjustments some courses have made to lower the risk of spreading unwanted germs or disease, is changing the golf hole itself.

The idea is to help keep hands from touching the flagstick by raising the cup or covering the hole in some way to lower the need of reaching into the hole for you ball. I played a local course recently and they had turned the actual golf holes around so it’s easier to get your ball out of the hole.

The USGA released an informative Frequently Asked Questions page on March 20 that answered some of the questions many golfers have.

And, as we here in Florida enter into the peak golf season, some golfers are wondering if you can still post scores to our handicaps due to the variations the USGA is allowing in the game.

Here’s what the USGA says on their website…

“The 2019 Rules of Golf were drafted to offer each Committee the flexibility to make decisions as to how golf is played at their course or in competition and the Committee Procedures section of the Official Guide to the Rules of Golf offers a significant amount of guidance and recommendations on how to address circumstances unique to each course or competition,” the USGA’s statement read.

“From the perspective of the Rules of Handicapping, the most frequent questions received are primarily related to the acceptability of scores for posting to a player’s scoring record. In particular, relating to modifying the hole and not requiring the player to “hole out” as required under the Rules of Golf. These are founded in a desire to minimize the possibility of exposing golfers to coronavirus and have included leaving the hole liner raised above the putting surface or placing various objects into the hole so the ball can be more easily removed. In these specific cases, provided guidance from health and governmental officials is being followed, a temporary measure is in place within the United States to accept scores played under these conditions for handicap purposes using the most likely score guidelines, even though the player has not holed out.”


Aside from relaxed rules around holing out and posting scores to your handicap, the USGA has relaxed its rules as it pertains to bunkers and rakes, allowing players to use a form of “rake and place” by using a foot or club to smooth an otherwise disturbed piece of a bunker. If needed, the USGA recommends a preferred lie local rule. Some local courses in our area are letting people take the ball out of the bunker altogether and play from behind where the ball went in.

The USGA also relaxed and made recommendations for scoring and scorecard usage that will limit the passing back and forth of cards and/or pencils to keep, mark or attest a score.

You can read the USGA’s full guidance statement on COVID-19 here and find the full FAQ page for adjusted rulings here.