Rules, Ratings and Handicaps

Rules of Golf

As the national governing body for golf, 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 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.

British Columbia Golf administers the Rules of Golf and Handicap System as developed by the world governing bodies of golf and administered in Canada by Golf Canada. We offer workshops, publications and on-the-job training to volunteers who are interested in assisting with tournaments and events around British Columbia.

Questions on Rules? Email Jerome Goddard

Questions on Handicap or Course Ratings? Email Kojo Frempong 


The R&A And USGA Announce 2024 World Handicap System™ Revisions


The R&A


November 8, 2023

(St Andrews, Scotland and Liberty Corner, NJ, USA) – The R&A and the USGA today announced the first update to the World Handicap System™ (WHS™) as part of an ongoing review of the Rules of Handicapping™ and Course Rating System™ with a continued emphasis on accuracy, consistency and equity. The latest revisions will go into effect from 1 January 2024.

Many countries have seen significant increases in the number of scores being submitted for handicapping purposes since the WHS was introduced, reflecting golf’s broadening appeal. More than 100 million scores have been posted each year, unifying millions of golfers through a standard measure of playing ability. The 2024 update leverages the performance data gathered from around the world, in addition to feedback received from many of the 125 countries now using the system.

Significant updates to the WHS include:

Click HERE to see complete article.


The R&A and USGA Announce 2023 Rules of Golf Update

Via Golf Canada

The R&A and the USGA have unveiled a regular update to the Rules of Golf as they continue to make the Rules easier to understand and apply. The new Rules went into effect on January 1, 2023.

The 2023 edition continues the modernization process, with an emphasis on both inclusion and sustainability. For the first time, the modified Rules for players with disabilities have been fully incorporated into the playing rules without the need to adopt a local rule.

The governing bodies, supported by longstanding partner Rolex, will also promote digital and mobile app access to the Rules while significantly reducing the production and distribution of more than four million printed books.

Several penalties have been relaxed and language has been clarified to help golfers at all levels of play.

Key changes include:

  • Modifications for Players with Disabilities: The modifications to the Rules for players with disabilities have been made part of the Rules and are in effect for all players who are classified in the categories covered in Rule 25
  • Handicap Usage in Stroke Play: With the continued growth of score-posting technology following the adoption of the World Handicap System™, players are no longer penalized for failing to put their handicap on their scorecard in stroke play. The committee will be responsible for ensuring the accuracy of each player’s handicap
  • Club Damaged During Round: The Rule has been amended to allow a player to replace a club that is damaged during a round, provided the player did not damage it through abuse
  • Ball Moved by Natural Forces: A new exception provides that a ball at rest must be replaced if it moves to another area of the course or comes to rest out of bounds after being dropped, placed or replaced
  • Back-on-the-Line Relief Procedure: The back-on-the-line relief procedure, often used for penalty area and unplayable ball relief, has been simplified so that the player now drops their ball on the line, and the ball must come to rest within one club-length of where it is dropped

Golfers will be able to learn more about the major changes and review the official 2023 Rules of Golf by visiting and Full updates to the official Rules of Golf digital applications became available on the 1st of January, 2023.

Grant Moir, Director of Rules at The R&A, said, “We are continuing to improve and adapt the Rules of Golf to ensure they are in line with the way the modern game is played. That means making the Rules easier to understand and access for all golfers and making the sport more inclusive and welcoming for golfers with disabilities. We are also working to ensure golf has a sustainable long-term future and making more resources available digitally is key to achieving that goal.”

“The growing popularity of golf continues to guide our decision-making and modernizing the Rules to promote inclusivity and accessibility is clearly a great step in the right direction,” said Thomas Pagel, USGA Chief Governance Officer. “This latest evolution is especially important to the community of golfers with disabilities, and we hope it will encourage more people to play and enjoy the game.”

As an extension of its support of the Rules of Golf worldwide, Rolex has made a commitment to support The R&A and the USGA’s efforts to modernize golf’s Rules. The Swiss watchmaker’s contribution to excellence in golf is based on a rich heritage stretching back more than 50 years, forged through pivotal partnerships at every level of the game, from the sport’s leading professional and amateur competitions and organizations, to players at the pinnacle of their sport worldwide.


World Handicap System

The World Handicap System was implemented starting in January of 2020. You can click HERE for details on the WHS and how it came about. 

Click HERE to read John Gordon's column on the WHS for Golf Canada.


Real Rules Stories

Check back here regularly for published stories on rules infractions/situations


5 Rules Golfers Often Break!

We highlight five important rules that golfers often break - make sure you don't make these crucial mistakes


The Rules of Golf can be frustratingly complex and tricky to interpret, which means there are some situations where golfers can come unstuck and get a ruling wrong, even with the best intentions at heart.

Here, we highlight five Rules of Golf that most players have got wrong at some point in time. They're quite common scenarios and so it's important to gain a firm grasp of how the Rules of Golf need to be applied.

Hopefully, after immersing yourself in the content below, you'll feel much more confident in knowing what to do should you or your playing partners find yourselves in any of these situations.

Click HERE to see complete article. 


‘It Makes Me Sick’: Wild Post-Round Ruling Costs Pro His PGA TOUR Card

By: NICK PIASTOWSKI/ | October 8th, 2023

One rules misstep. One video review. And Shad Tuten lost a PGA TOUR card that was going to be his.“It makes me sick as a past player,” analyst James Nitties said on the Golf Channel broadcast.

In a wild sequence on Sunday during the final round of the Korn Ferry Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship, Tuten was hit with a two-stroke penalty after his round at Victoria National Golf Club for a mistake he made on a golf-ball placement on his 15th hole.

The ruling, following a video look, moved Tuten from 30th on the season-long points race to 32nd — and only the top 30 earned PGA TOUR cards for next year.

Click HERE for complete story.


Carlota Ciganda DQ'd From Evian After Refusing To Add Penalty Strokes For Slow-Play Violation

By: Kent Paisley/Golf Digest | July 28, 2023

After Carlota Ciganda's one-over-par 72 in the second round of the Amundi Evian Championship in France, the 33-year-old Spaniard left the scoring tent without signing her card following a failed appeal of a two-stroke slow-play penalty on the ninth hole.

In turn, Ciganda was disqualified from the major in a bizarre turn of events over a rules violation.

Click HERE for complete story


Women’s PGA Contender Dinged With Penalty For Marking Ball Off Green

By: JACK HIRSH/ | June 24, 2023

Mel Reid began Saturday at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship just a shot out of the lead, but after bogeys at 1 and 4, she needed to stop the bleeding at the 5th.

Then she made a regrettable error.

Reid was hit with a one-shot penalty during the third round at Baltusrol Golf Club’s Lower Course for marking her ball while off the putting green on No. 5.

Click HERE for complete story


Déjà vu Bunker Incident Dashes PGA Championship Contender’s Chances

Corey Conners' PGA Championship was undone on the 16th hole Saturday. One day later, Viktor Hovland suffered the same exact fate

BY: ZEPHYR MELTON/ | May 21, 2023

Corey Conners' PGA Championship was undone on the 16th hole Saturday. One day later, Viktor Hovland suffered the same exact fate.

Mark Twain once said that truth is stranger than fiction, and on Sunday afternoon, golf fans got to witness the epitome of that phrase.

Standing in a bunker right of the 16th fairway, Viktor Hovland needed to navigate the lip of the trap to get his ball anywhere near the putting surface. And with playing partner Brooks Koepka ahead by a stroke, the Norwegian opted for the aggressive play that would (theoretically) get the ball all the way to the green.

The decision proved costly.

Click HERE for complete story


College Golfer Disqualifies Himself After Shooting 62 In US Open Qualifying

Tommy Kuhl shot a course record in a US Open qualifier but was forced to DQ himself after repairing aeration marks on the greens

BY ELLIOTT HEATH/Golf Monthly | May 9, 2023

A college golfer was forced to disqualify himself after making it through a US Open local qualifier with a course record 62.

Tommy Kuhl, a fifth-year senior at the University of Illinois, had just shot 62 at Illini Country Club in Springfield, Illinois to make it through at the US Open qualifier when he realised that he had to DQ himself.

He was out watching his teammate Adrien Dumont De Chassart in a playoff for the final spot when another teammate made a comment about the aerated greens. That's when he realised that he wasn't allowed to repair the aeration marks.

Click HERE for complete story


10 Rules Golfers Still Get Wrong


Golf Monthly's rules expert, Jezz Ellwood, picks out 10 rules that many golfers are unaware of. In competition, some of these could lead to penalty shots or even disqualification. In some cases, these rules are there to help you, so they are well worth knowing.

So, if you are planning to play any competitive golf in the hope of getting your handicap down, take a look at the 10 rules golfers still get wrong to make sure simple mistakes don't end up costing you!

Click HERE to see complete story