Rules Guy: If a woman plays from the back tees in a match, how should stroke allocations be determined?

man and woman golf

What do the rules say about match-play stroke allocations when a woman plays from the back tees?

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The Rules of Golf are tricky! Thankfully, we’ve got the guru. Our Rules Guy knows the book front to back. Got a question? He’s got all the answers.

A female, I recently played a round in a match-play event against a male. Due to the course rating and so on, I was moved back a tee box. I know that the course rating adjusts my course handicap based on tee box and gender, but how should the order of pops be allocated? Typically, the hole difficulty is listed at the bottom of the card with the forward tee (aka “ladies’ tees”), but now I’m playing the tees at the top of the scorecard where the “men’s tees” are located. What’s the ruling? As it happened, this made the difference between tying the match or losing by 2 holes. 
—Trish Selcher, via email

Let’s start at the end, Trish — from a Rules of Golf perspective, unless a timely ruling request was made under Rule 3.2c(2), the agreed result of the holes and match stand even if the strokes were applied incorrectly.

From a handicapping perspective, the USGA Handicap Committee Guide addresses stroke index allocation. Here’s the most relevant part: “The USGA recommends that each course has one allocation for men and one for women, based on the most commonly played tees for each gender. In mixed competitions where players play their own ball and where allocations are different for men and women, the players are to receive strokes based on their respective stroke allocations.”

With that said, unless the Committee changed the allocation(s) used for the competition, you should have received your strokes based on the women’s stroke allocation.

For more match-play guidance from our guru, read on …

Woman writing scorecard
Rules Guy: How do you score a match when a hole plays as both a par 4 and par 5 from different tees?
By: Rules Guy

During the semifinals of the club match-play championship, I was injured when my opponent drove her golf cart into my left leg, knocking me over — yes, accidentally, but still. This took place during the fourth hole. Not knowing the extent of my injury, we jointly decided to halt the match. Thankfully, it turned out nothing was broken. We neglected, however, to mark our balls. When we eventually restart the match, can we jointly agree to start afresh from the first hole, even though the pin locations and conditions will have changed? Is this a tournament committee decision? — Kathleen Williams, Union Vale, N.Y.

Rules Guy was more intrigued by the prospective match between your respective lawyers, but we are glad you handled the situation peacefully.

That said, under Rule 5.7c, you must resume play from where play was stopped, even on a different day.

Don’t know the exact position of your golf balls? That’s fine — just estimate and replace (and make sure your opponent keeps her foot on the brake).

Need help unriddling the greens at your home course? Pick up a custom Green Book from 8 AM Golf affiliate Golf Logix.

Got a question about the Rules? Ask the Rules Guy! Send your queries, confusions and comments to We promise he won’t throw the book at you.

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