How To Adjust Your Golf Handicap If You Are Injured

If you play golf with an injury you can make adjustments to your (GHIN) golf handicap!

About a month ago I tripped over a box in the office and fell to the floor, crushing my left hand beneath me. Took about three minutes of excruciating pain before I could move. Luckily nothing was broken, but the pain from the sprain is still with me four weeks later probably because I wouldn’t give it a rest. I played a couple of rounds of golf at the local golf simulator to keep my swing in shape. However, once in a while I would make a bad swing and the club would hit the floor instead of the ball, sending shockwaves up the shaft and into my hand. Stupido! My companions finally convinced me to stop trying to improve my golf game and head to the doctors to check out this injury that just would not go away. I followed their advice and things are getting better and I hope to be able to play a full round of golf soon.

But the question came up… If you play golf with an injury can you adjust your handicap? Or do you keep track of your score and submit it as if you were perfectly healthy?

I just received an email newsletter from the Mass Golf Association that deals with this very issue, and I think the information is well worth passing on.

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Golf Handicap FAQ

Q. I badly hurt my wrist while shoveling this winter and am now concerned about how my injury will impact my handicap index. Who can help me?

A. The good news is that Under Section 8-4b(iii) of the USGA Handicap System manual, a Handicap Committee can grant an increase in handicap for temporary and permanent disabilities (as determined by the Handicap Committee). The increased handicap must be identified by the letter “L” to indicate that it is for local club use only.

For example, a player having recent wrist surgery may be given a higher handicap while recovering. Whether it is a temporary or permanent adjustment, and the amount of adjustment, is to be determined at the club level by the player’s Handicap Committee.

Temporary Treatment: Assign a local Handicap Index reflecting current ability—until posting five scores to the player’s Handicap Index—and then go back to observing player’s Handicap Index as calculated.

Permanent Treatment: Disregard the players’ previous scoring records and assign a temporary local Handicap Index for use until posting five scores to establish a new Handicap Index.

Please visit Section 8-4b and Decisions 8-4b/1 and 8-4b/2 of the USGA Handicap System manual for further reference.

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Bottom Line: If you have suffered a minor injury or a permanent disability but are still playing golf, check in with your local Handicap Committee to see if you can make a temporary or permanent adjustment to your handicap.

Have you ever had to take advantage of this rule? If so, share your experience in the comment section below.

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  4 comments for “How To Adjust Your Golf Handicap If You Are Injured

  1. Patrick Fahey
    June 11, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    So, if you’re injured, should you record your scores as normal? Wouldn’t you then be kind of artificially inflating your handicap? I sprained my ankle a week ago but already had a reservation at a resort and am going to play regardless. There’s no way I can make my normal swing or hit the ball my normal distance. No doubt, I will score higher. Record the scores, or not?

    • June 12, 2016 at 8:11 am

      I suggest you check with the pro at your club as to how they would handle this. According to the Rules Section 8-4b(iii) of the USGA Handicap System manual, a Handicap Committee can grant an increase in handicap for temporary and permanent disabilities (as determined by the Handicap Committee). The increased handicap must be identified by the letter “L” to indicate that it is for local club use only. If your club doesn’t have a committee, I would take the advice of your club pro. Hope your injury is temporary and you’re playing your best very soon.

    • Mike Seabaugh
      March 24, 2019 at 9:57 pm

      I play with a regular foursome on weekends. Had detached retina surgery successfully but now must have cataract surgery to improve vision. Applied and received a medical increase in handicap from local committee but not given such by members at my club. What makes it worse is I have 2 tournament scores whereby more than 3 strokes under index so they remain in calculation for a year! Seems when comes to competitive matches, temporary adjustments don’t garner much credibility from peers.

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