DETERMINING GOLF COMPETITION WINNERS What Should Happen When There is a Tie?

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DETERMINING GOLF COMPETITION WINNERS What Should Happen When There is a Tie?
DETERMINING GOLF COMPETITION WINNERS What Should Happen When There is a Tie?

It’s not unusual that golfers playing in competitions have equal scores and decisions need to be made about determining who is the final winner or place getter. It is most important that the conditions of the Event clearly describe this process; regardless of the format to be used. It is just not good enough to wait until a tie happens before this is revealed; inevitably controversy will follow and the notion that the tie breaker unfairly either advantaged or disadvantaged someone is more than likely. One common tie breaker used around the Region is to award the highest place to the player with the lowest handicap. Scandinavian golfers may be used to this system which is widely practiced in those countries and familiar. The justification seems to be that the lower handicapper has played better golf and should be rewarded. The question is; has the lower handicapped golfer played better golf according to his or her ability? After all one purpose of using a handicap system is to give players of different abilities a chance to win. Of course the answer to this question is best answered by the worldwide bodies that set the Rules of Golf; that is the Royal & Ancient and the United States Golfing Association. After all, we must follow the Rules mutually set by these two organisations, so why not follow their recommendations as well? What The Rule Makers Have To Say “In both match play and stroke play, a tie can be an acceptable result. However, when it is desired to have a sole winner, the Committee has the authority, under Rule 33-6, to determine how and when a tie is decided. The decision should be published in advance”. There is no absolute Rule of Golf about determining ties; it’s up the Committee. The recommendation of both the R&A and the USGA is for a play-off over a number of predetermined holes. We’ve all seen those exciting and tense playoffs in professional competitions. However it is also recognised that in less auspicious events this is really not practical. Even if the golf course agrees and the holes are available, keeping the rest of the field waiting is likely to be very unpopular. The second and only other recommended option is matching score cards or what is commonly referred to as the ‘countback’ system (Appendix 1, Part C, Number 10). Matching cards determines the winner (and place getters) of an 18 hole competition on the basis of the best score for the last nine holes. If the tying players have the same score for the last nine, determine the winner on the basis of the last six holes, last three holes and finally the 18th hole. A Final Comment We think that settles it; when the highest authorities in the world make a recommendation why not follow it as best practice? It may also be worth mentioning that the Norwegian Golf Association provides a link to the R & A website and to this information about the conditions of play. It was also a condition of play for the2013 and 2014 Scandinavian Senior Open Amateur Championships include the use of a countback system to determine ties. The message is clear; consider this subject before the Event and let everyone know. However from an international perspective, the countback system is the way to go!

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