Membership is open throughout the season to individuals aged 18 years or older. New NIHGA members shall complete and submit a NIHGA Membership Registration Form. Annual dues are due to the Team Captains by the first outing following registration. If dues are not paid by the third outing, members will be ineligible for individual and team competitions until the dues are paid.
NIHGA Board of Directors
NIHGA is governed by a Board of Directors consisting of the Team Captains, Treasurer, Handicapper, and Scheduler. A Webmaster assists the Board by posting information on the official NIHGA website. The Board of Directors collectively manages all aspects of the association including but not limited to membership, tournaments, outings, handicapping, finances, policies, rules, guidelines, and awards.
NIHGA teams shall have at least 12 but no more than 25 members. The Board of Directors may increase the upper limit beyond 25 or establish new teams at the season start to accommodate increased membership.
The use of any golf course is a privilege. Conduct of the NIHGA members, therefore, must be beyond reproach and the rules of the game and the course must be fully observed. Members shall replace or seed all divots, rake bunkers, repair ball marks, and keep riding and pull carts well away from the putting greens, sand traps and tees. The Board of Directors may discipline members for misconduct with disqualification or suspension from one or more outings.
NIHGA members may invite guests to play in stroke play and scramble tournaments. Members must play with their guests and be responsible for their guest’s conduct. No guests may play in the match play tournament. Each guest may play in a maximum of two stroke play outings per year.
Rules of Play
All play shall be in accordance with the USGA Rules of Golf, except as amended by the local rules of the course being played and NIHGA Amended Rules (see Appendix A). Members are responsible for familiarizing themselves with all rules as well as tournament information provided by the team captains and handicapper prior to the outing. Members shall apply the rules within their foursome to the best of their ability and in a timely manner. Players deliberately violating or ignoring the rules shall be disqualified. If an unusual situation arises and application of the rules is unclear, members must play on and report the issue to the Board of Directors after the outing.
NIHGA offers four tee selections for its members: back, middle, senior, or forward tees. Members shall choose a tee prior to the first outing based on their skill level, and must play from that tee for the entire season including match play and scramble tournaments. Members may choose any tee regardless of age or gender. The typical yardage for each tee is listed below.
- Back Tees: 6,400 – 7,000 yds
- Middle Tees: 6,000 – 6,600 yds
- Senior Tees: 5,100 – 6,100 yds
- Forward Tees: 4,700 – 5,400 yds
Since there are no standard colors for tees, the color of markers associated NIHGA will use for each tee is provided in the outing flyer and handicap report. Members shall not rely of course staff to tell them which color of tee to use. Penalties for playing from the wrong tee include disqualification of scores and nonparticipation in individual and team competitions for that outing.
The NIHGA Handicapper calculates and publishes official NIHGA handicap indexes and playing handicaps for all members. The handicap index represents the player’s potential scoring ability on any course. The playing handicap defines how many strokes a player will give or receive during an actual round.
New members shall receive a NIHGA handicap index after turning in two scorecards from NIHGA stroke play outings. NIHGA accepts USGA handicap indexes from a golf club or internet handicap provider for a new member’s first two outings. If the new member does not have a USGA handicap index, he/she will compete with a playing handicap of zero for his/her first two rounds. If a new member played as a guest within the last two seasons in a NIHGA stroke play outing(s) prior to becoming a member and turned in an 18-hole scorecard for the outing(s), the Handicapper shall use the guest score(s) toward the Handicap Index calculation.
All active, inactive and returning members retain their NIHGA stroke play scores for a period of two seasons. These scores continue to be part of the NIHGA handicap index calculation if they are among the last 6 scores on record. If an inactive or returning member has not submitted two stroke play outing scores in the past two years, they must re-establish their handicap index as if they were a new member.
The Handicapper uses only stroke play tournament scores to calculate the NIHGA handicap index for each player. No scores from match play tournaments or non-league play are used in calculating NIHGA handicap indexes. The NIHGA handicap indexes are then used to calculate playing handicaps using the formulas and handicap allowances in Appendix B – Handicap Calculations.
Handicap indexes and playing handicaps are published prior to each stroke play outing. Each player shall use the playing handicap to determine the maximum strokes for each hole that he/she will take on the course. See the Appendix for the Maximum Score Per Hole rule. The handicapper also uses playing handicaps to determine the net score winners for each flight of the stroke play outings.
Playing handicaps are used to prepare personalized scorecards for each match play outing. The NIHGA Handicapper shall determine playing handicaps for all match play participants. The player in each group with the lowest handicap shall play scratch and receive no strokes. All other players in that group shall receive the difference between their handicap and the lowest handicap. The NIHGA Handicapper applies the received strokes against the appropriate holes on the scorecard. The scorecard may be used to informally track the results of each hole, but no scorecard is turned in at the end of the match.
For the scramble tournament, a team handicap is calculated by averaging the playing handicaps of all players on the team. The team handicap is only used to place teams in flights so teams are competing against other teams of comparable ability. The Handicapper shall use official USGA handicap indexes provided by a golf club or online handicap provider to calculate playing handicaps for guests. If a guest does not have an official USGA handicap index, the handicapper will make a best effort to estimate the player’s handicap index.
Outings and Tournaments
All stroke play, match play, and scramble tournaments are 18-hole outings. All scheduled events shall be played unless cancelled by the NIHGA Board of Directors or the host course.
Stroke Play Outings
The Board of Directors approves the stroke play schedule before the season starts. Team Captains take turns hosting each stroke play outing. Playing handicaps, tee times, and a tournament flyer are provided to each member and posted to NIHGA.org in advance of each outing. All stroke play outings are flighted and individuals compete for low gross and low net scores within their flight. They also compete for long drive for their tee selection and closest to the pin on par 3 holes. To qualify for the long drive competition, the ball must come to rest in the fairway. To qualify for closest to the pin, the ball must come to rest on the green. In addition to tournament contests, anyone getting a hole-in-one at an NIHGA outing will receive a prize. Guests may play in the stroke play outings but are ineligible for individual and team competitions and prizes.
NIHGA teams compete for points based on the aggregate score of the five lowest net scores from their team. Teams receive 8, 6, and 4 points for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, respectively. In the case of ties, the teams shall split the total points earned. For example, if two teams tie for 1st place, they split the total points earned for 1st and 2nd place teams (14 points) and receive 7 points each.
Team points from each outing are accumulated throughout the year and the team with the most points at the end of the stroke play season wins the Stroke Play Championship. In the event of a tie, the tying teams will share the title and split the prize money. Furthermore, if there is a bye for the Match Play Tournament, a coin toss will determine which of the tying Stroke Play Champion teams gets the bye.
Within each tee time group, the scores of all players in the group will be recorded on one scorecard. After completion of play and before leaving the course, scorecards shall be totaled and the players of the group shall agree to the scores. Members are not required to sign scorecards, but members playing together are collectively responsible for ensuring scores are accurately recorded and totaled. Members shall email the scorecard to the handicapper by the end of the day. The group playing in the last tee time shall collect all contest markers (closest to pin and long drive) and email photos of the contest cards to the handicapper.
The handicapper determines winners and publishes results for each outing. Team Captains issue prizes to winners at their earliest convenience.
Match Play Tournament
NIHGA hosts one match play tournament at the end of the stroke play season where NIHGA Teams compete in head-to-head matches for the Match Play Championship. Only those NIHGA members who have official NIHGA handicaps and have competed in three or more stroke play outings will be eligible for the match play tournament. No guests are permitted to play.
One of the Team Captains is designated as the tournament coordinator and manages all aspects of the tournament. The exact match play tournament format is determined by the level of interest among members to participate in the tournament as well as availability of golf course(s) to host the event.
Players shall use the same tee they selected at the beginning of the season during match play tournaments. All golfers play their own balls throughout the round. Each hole is won by the team whose member has the lowest net score. If the lowest net scores from each team are tied, no one wins that hole. A team wins a match when the team leads their opponent by more holes than remain to be played, the opponent concedes the match, or the opponent is disqualified. If a match is tied after the final hole and there is no clear team winner for the round based on the winners of the other matches, the match goes into sudden death starting with hole #1 and playing one hole at a time until there is a winner. The results of the match shall be emailed to the tournament coordinator. A report showing the match play competitors and winners for each round shall be posted to NIHGA.org. The Match Play Championship is awarded to the team whose players win the final competition in the match play tournament.
An end-of-year scramble tournament and luncheon is the last outing of the season. The scramble teams ordinarily consist of four players. On an exception basis, teams of three players are permitted. Scramble foursomes may be comprised of members from multiple NHIGA teams. The scramble tournament uses a shotgun start and is flighted based on the average of the team members’ handicap indexes. Guests may play in this tournament and are eligible for individual and team contests. A best effort is made to approximate the handicap index of each guest who does not have an official USGA handicap index so their foursome is placed in the most appropriate flight.
NIHGA members will use the same tee that they selected at the beginning of the season. Guests will adhere to the same eligibility requirements for tees as NIHGA members. A complete set of rules will be provided on the day of the scramble tournament. Teams will compete for low gross score within their flight. Ties will be broken in accordance with the hosting golf course tie breaking process. Individual contests are also held for Long Drives and Closest to the Pin. Prizes are issued to the winners immediately after the tournament. A report showing all scramble teams and winners shall be posted to NIHGA.org.
For stroke play and scramble tournaments, members sign up themselves and guests for tee times using SignUpGenius. A minimum of two NIHGA members must play in each tee time. After the SignUp cutoff date, the team captain organizing the event may make final adjustments to the tee sheet to fill gaps or complete foursomes. The final tee sheet serves a contract with the course, and members who have signed up are expected to play. Cancellations or changes to the tee sheet should be minimal. If a member must cancel due to unforeseen circumstances, he/she must notify the course and their team captain of the cancellation as soon as possible. No-shows and/or members canceling with less than 24 hours’ notice may be charged for the round.
Pace of Play
Members are responsible for maintaining the pace of play stated by the golf course. NIHGA uses “ready golf” to keep pace with the foursome in front of you. In stroke play, NIHGA establishes a maximum score for each hole based on the member’s course handicap (see Appendix). In match play, members shall pick up their balls and move to the next hole as soon as the outcome of the hole is determined. At the end-of-year scramble tournament, NIHGA establishes a maximum team score for each hole. Once the maximum score is reached, the players pick up their balls and record the maximum score on the scorecard. If a course marshal directs members to pick up and move to the next hole, they shall take the maximum score for that hole in stroke play and scramble outings or “halve” the hole in match play.
The Board of Directors presents the following awards at the end-of-year luncheon.
Stroke Play Champions
Awarded to participating members of the team with the most stroke play points at the end of the season.
Match Play Champions
Awarded to participating members of the winning team of the Match Play tournament.
Awarded to the member who has the lowest average gross score in his/her six best stroke play outings. First-year members are not eligible for this award. Ties are broken by averaging additional lowest gross/net scores until the tie is broken. In the process of considering additional scores, if one or more of the tied players has no additional scores to average, they are no longer in contention for the award.
Gregg Chicca Cup
This award is named in honor of Greg Chicca, a member who distinguished himself through his long-term leadership and dedication to the league. The Greg Chicca Cup is awarded to the member who has the lowest average net score in his/her six best stroke play outings. The winner of the Director’s Cup and first-year members are not eligible for this award. Ties are broken using the same methodology as the Director’s Cup tiebreaker.
Rookie of the Year
Awarded to the first-year member who has the lowest average net score in his/her six best stroke play outings. A minimum of five first-year members is required to issue this award. Ties are broken using the same methodology as the Director’s Cup tiebreaker.