Rules and Handicap
Rules of Golf
As the governing body of golf in Canada, Golf Canada holds the exclusive right to publish and distribute the Rules of Golf in Canada.
The Rules are updated every four years through the work of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Scotland and the United States Golf Association. A joint committee of these associations, on which the Rules Chairman of Golf Canada sits, is charged with revising, modernizing and improving the Rules of Golf and the Decisions on the Rules of Golf. These two documents form the complete Rules of Golf that are used universally throughout the world of golf.
The Rules of Golf and Decisions on the Rules of Golf are available for purchase online or by calling us at 1-800-263-0009.
In addition to publishing the Rules, Golf Canada has created a national Rules Education Program that leads to national certification as a Rules Official. The program description is contained on the Rules Education page on this website. You will also find links to the lists of conforming clubs and balls that are used by all associations and updated monthly by the USGA.
For clubs or committees in charge of competitions, the Conditions of Competition and Standard Local Rules that Golf Canada implements at all championships is posted for your reference. In addition, a list of local rules that should be considered is available on this website.
Rules of Golf Quick Links
- Principal Rules Changes - 2012
- Decisions on the Rules of Golf
- Rules Education
- Local Rules
- Easy Guide to the Rules of Golf (PDF)
- Ask a Rules Expert
Golf Canada is the authoritative body for the purposes of establishing and maintaining a uniform handicap system for golf clubs in Canada in co-operation with the provincial golf associations.
The purpose of the Golf Canada Handicap System is to make the game of golf more enjoyable for golfers by providing a means of measuring one's performance and progress and to enable golfers of differing abilities to compete on an equitable basis.
Through this system, each golfer establishes an "Golf Canada Handicap Factor" which is a numerical measurement of a player's potential (not actual) scoring ability on a course of standard difficulty.
The Handicap Factor is calculated using the best 10 of the player's last 20 rounds and updated with each new round played. The Handicap Factor travels with the golfer from course to course and is adjusted up or down depending on the length and difficulty of the course played, resulting in a "Course Handicap". The Course Handicap is the number of strokes a golfer receives from a specific set of tees at the course played and represents the number of strokes he would require to play equitably against a "scratch" golfer (a golfer with a Handicap Factor of "0.0'). The more difficult the golf course, the more strokes the golfer receives and vice versa.
The relative difficulty of a golf course is determined jointly by Golf Canada and the provincial golf association using the Golf Canada Course and Slope Rating System. Specially trained Course Rating Teams evaluate the difficulty of a golf course based on such variables as length and a number of obstacle factors (e.g. topography, bunkers, water hazards, severity of rough, etc).
Only Golf Canada member golf clubs are permitted to use the Golf Canada Handicap System and Golf Canada Course Rating System and related trademarks and service marks and must do so in a manner that preserves the integrity and reliability of these systems. All rights to use these systems and related trademarks and service marks terminate should the golf club cease to be a member in good standing with Golf Canada.