If your round gets rained out, should you expect a full or partial refund?

A golfer in the rain

Golf course refund policies are as variable as the weather

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Neither rain nor sleet nor snow can stay mail carriers from their appointed rounds.

Golfers, on the other hand, often bail in bad weather.

Which raises the question: What about a raincheck? Can you cancel without penalty? Get a full or partial refund for your round?

The short answer is that policies vary. The slightly longer answer is that some courses make it easy. If it’s dumping on the day when you are slated to play, you can call before your tee time and cancel, no questions asked. (Often, these are courses on the lower end of the price scale that do not require a deposit or a credit card number when you book.) Many other courses strike a middle ground: They won’t refund your money, but they will give you full credit, which you can use on another day.

Much depends on the type of course, its point-of-sales capabilities and how you made your reservation. If you paid in advance through a third-party tee time service, you’ll be subject to that company’s policies, which are often less lenient than those of the course. In many cases, third-party services only offer refunds if conditions are deemed dangerous (for instance, lightning in the area) or if the course has been forced to close that day.

Still other variables come into play if the weather turns foul in the middle of your round. Here, again, policies vary. Some courses will give you a pro-rated rain check or refund, based on the number of holes you’ve played. But at many others, once you tee off, you have committed to the round and are no longer eligible for a voucher. That’s the policy, for instance, at Bandon Dunes.

Like bad shots, bad weather happens. For the latter, at least, you can buy insurance. Third-party tee time services like GolfNow sell protection plans that are something akin to travel insurance; you pay a little extra to safeguard yourself against the elements. The PGA of America partners with a company called Sensible Weather to offer a Weather Guarantee, which, for a cost of 8 to 12 percent of the total booking price, offers refunds (many golfers prefer those to raincheck vouchers) for rounds interrupted by the elements, even if you still decide to play.

Some golfers, of course, don’t worry about the weather. Former USGA chief Sandy Tatum was like that; he would play in anything. Same with the priest from “Caddyshack.” But if you’re the type of player who detests getting wet and doesn’t like losing a down payment, educate yourself before you book a tee time. Either call the pro shop or look online, where many courses post their cancellation policies.

Also: Keep some rain gear in your trunk.

Josh Sens

Golf.com Editor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.