Maximum Score Per Hole

In order to maintain pace of play, NIHGA imposes a maximum score a player may take on any hole in stroke play. Upon reaching the maximum score, the player shall pick up his/her ball and record their maximum number as the score for that hole. The maximum score is based on a player’s playing handicap as depicted below.

Playing Handicap Maximum Score per Hole
Less than 10 Double bogey
10-19 7
20-29 8
30-39 9
40+ 10
No handicap 9

Moving or Lifting a Ball in Play

“Winter rules” or “preferred lies” will be permitted during all play. Winter rules shall permit a player to improve his/her lie by moving his/her ball in the player’s own fairway providing the ball is not moved closer to the hole or more than six inches in any other direction. The ball may be moved by a clubhead or it may be lifted by hand, cleaned (if desired) and placed in its new position. No ball which lies in a rough or hazard shall be moved at any time except as permitted by USGA rules. Players may change balls on the green without declaring the ball unplayable. 

Tee Time Groups

Every NIHGA member shall play with at least one other NIHGA member. Breach of this rule will result in disqualification from any prizes and from the team competition.

Lost Ball and Ball out of Bounds

This rule does not apply to a ball lost in a red or yellow penalty area. When your ball is suspected to be lost or out-of-bounds, you have two options.  The first option is to hit a provisional ball under penalty of stroke and distance before you advance to look for the ball.  If the ball is indeed lost or out-of-bounds, you must play your provisional ball.  The second option is to advance to look for your ball without hitting a provisional ball.  If you choose this option and your ball is indeed lost or out-of-bounds, you must follow the 2019 USGA new local rule.  First estimate the spot where your ball was lost or went out-of-bounds and then find the nearest fairway edge that is not nearer the hole than the estimated spot. For two penalty strokes, drop a ball in the fairway within two club-lengths of that fairway edge point, or anywhere between there and the estimated spot where your ball is lost or went out-of-bounds. You cannot use this option if you already hit a provisional ball.  

Ball in Penalty Area

You may play a ball as it lies in a red or yellow penalty area without penalty or play a ball from outside the penalty area by taking penalty relief with one stroke penalty. To maintain pace of play, NIHGA does not permit a player to take stroke-and-distance relief from a penalty area.  If a ball is in a yellow penalty area, the player must take back-on-the-line relief based on a reference line going straight back from the hole and through the point where the ball crossed into the penalty area.  If a ball is in a red penalty area, a player has two options: (1) he/she may take lateral relief of two club lengths from where the ball crossed into the penalty area, or (2) he/she may take back-on-the-line relief based on a reference line going straight back from the hole through the point where the ball crossed into the penalty area. 

“Gimme” Putts in Stroke Play Tournaments

NIHGA permits the use of “gimmes” in stroke play tournaments to improve pace of play.  Gimmes are permitted, but not automatic, for putts within12 inches of the lip of the cup. The decision to grant a gimme is also based on the difficulty of the green as well as the skill level of the player.  All gimmes must be granted by a fellow player and should be clearly communicated before you pick up your ball. If no one grants the gimme, you must putt the ball.  You may not request a gimme from your fellow players. A player may decline a gimme if he/she believes the putt is too difficult to be deemed “unmissable” for them.  Gimmes are not allowed when putting for a score of par or better on the hole.   Gimmes count as one stroke on the scorecard.

Late Arrival

Out of respect for other NIHGA members, players shall arrive at the course at least 15 minutes prior to their assigned tee time. This gives the player time to pay greens fees and report to the starter ready to play before the starter sends his/her group out.  In the event that a player arrives late, the format of the outing will determine their course of action.  

Stroke Play:  A late player may catch up with his/her group and take his/her maximum score for any missed holes.  Once a late player’s group has left the teeing area, the late player catching up with his/her group must wait until the next hole to join the group. Alternatively, the late player may join a NIHGA twosome or threesome that has not yet teed off if one exists. 

Match Play: A late player may catch up with his/her partner and will not play any missed holes. Once a late player’s group has left the teeing area, the late player catching up with his/her partner must wait until the next hole to join the group. The partner plays solo on any holes the late player misses. 

Scramble: A late player may catch up with his/her team and will not play any missed holes. The late player catching up with his/her team may begin playing as soon as he/she joins the group. The other members of the scramble team will take turns playing as if they were the late player by taking turns playing an extra ball on the holes the late player misses. 

Incomplete Round Waiver

Under ordinary circumstances, a player failing to complete 18 holes is ineligible to compete for the team competition and individual low gross and low net prizes. However, if an individual or group of players had to leave the course prematurely due to dangerous weather, unplayable conditions, or serious illness/injury and was unable to resume the round on that day the players completing at least 14 holes may request a waiver from the Board of Directors. The waiver request must be submitted to their Team Captain and handicapper via email on the day of the outing, and should outline the reasons for not finishing the round.  If the Board approves the waiver, the Handicapper shall complete the scorecard according to USGA Handicapping Rule 3.2. by recording par plus any handicap strokes that the player is entitled to receive on the holes they have not played. The completed scorecard is then counted for team competition and individual low gross and low net prizes.  Players with incomplete rounds are eligible for Closest to the Pin and Long Drive prizes for the holes they played.