FAQ: Play Format

Get answers to questions related to the match play format, scheduling, disputes and other things related to play.

Last change: December 31, 2023.

What is the play format?

It is 2-man net best ball match play ala the Ryder Cup. Each player will have a handicap based on their low index reflected on the USGA’s GHIN app downloaded onto your mobile phone. Your handicap will be the rounded low index (RLI). For example, a 14.1 plays to a 14, while a 14.6 plays to a 15.

Why not use the adjusted handicap system?

For simplicity reasons. It will be easy to present your low index at the 1st tee and determine which tees you should tee off from and what strokes each player gets.

What do you mean “which tees to play at”?

There will be 3 designated tees (Front, Middle and Back). If a course has more than 3 tees, the Host Captain decides which are the 3 consecutive tees in play. Players with a combined RLI plus age of 52 or less will be designated to play from the Back tees. An RLI plus age of 53-72 will be designated to play from the Middle tees. An RLI plus age of 73 or above will play from the Front tees.

Am I required to play from my designated tee?

No. You can move forward one or more levels and subtract 3 strokes per level from your RLI. Or, you can move back one or more levels and add 2 strokes for each level you move back.

Example #1: A 40-year-old player with an RLI of 10 (so a combined value of 50), would be designated to play from the Back tees. If he or she decides to play from the Front tees they would subtract 6 from his RLI and play to a 4 as he moved up 2 levels.

Example #2: A 60-year-old player with a 14 RLI (so a combined value of 74) would be designated to play from the Front Tees. If they decide to play from the Back Tees, they will add 4 strokes and play to an adjusted handicap of 18.

Can you play from a tee other than the designated Front, Middle or Back tees as designated by the Host Captain?

Yes, if they are rated on the scorecard. For example, the course has 5 tee boxes and the Host Captain designates tees 2, 3 and 4 as the Front, Middle and Back tees. If you play from the #1 (the shortest tee) and you are a combined 55 (age 45 and RLI of 10) and your designated tee is #3, you will subtract 6 from your RLI and play to an adjusted RLI of 4.

Note: 36 is the highest RLI or Adjusted RLI that any player can play to.

Is there a limit on the difference between the low index and the high index for the Team Captain and Partner?

Yes, the maximum difference is 10. Thus, if the low index is a 2 and his partner has an RLI of 14, the partner will play to a 12.

What about the ladies?

Their 3 sets of tees for ladies are the 3 shortest-rated tees. It could be 3 ladies’ tees, 2 ladies’ tees and the shortest men’s tee, or 1 ladies’ tee and the 2 shortest men’s tees.

What if the course has less than 3 men’s tees?

Those that are designated to play from the Front Tees will add 2 to their RLI if they play from the nearer of the 2 tees and they would add 4 if they play from the farther of the 2 tees.

Will all matches be played at the same course?

All Regional Pool play matches will be scheduled by the Host Captain at any course within 100 miles of the opponent’s home course. With 3 Pool play matches, half the teams will be the Host once and the other half will be the Host twice. Playoff matches will also be scheduled by the Host team (the leader in points after Pool play).

Will there be restrictions on where the Host captain can schedule a match.

Yes, besides travel distance, the par and rating should be a minimum of 68 and the cost should not exceed $80. Exceptions to any of these restrictions can be made with the approval of the opposing captain.

Do matches need to be played in order?

No. These matches can be played in any order and can be bunched if desired. The Pool play matches just need to be completed before the playoffs.

How does a team Captain schedule a match?

Each Captain will have the cell phone number and e-mail address for all Captains in their playing group. The maximum number of matches that will need to be scheduled at any level will be 6 (3 pool play matches, a quarter-final, semi-final and final). The timeframe to play these 6 matches in will be just over 2 months. While weekends may be the most prevalent days to play matches, matches can be scheduled any day of the week. The goal is to get all of the matches in, so please be as flexible as possible.

What if a captain and an opponent can never get on the same page to schedule their match?

National Match Play Administration will review documentation including text messages and e-mails between the 2 parties and determine an outcome, awarding a Win to one team or calling it a Tie. The decision will be final.

What about sandbaggers?

That is certainly always a concern and especially so with this competition, given that it could end up at a Top 100 Resort for the National Finals. The National Match Play Administration will receive and evaluate all complaints about inappropriate handicaps. As pool play can involve 3 matches, there is a better chance that sandbaggers will be exposed. The National Match Play Administration will have final say as to handicap override decisions or even overturning match results.

What about a mid-round dispute as to a specific rule?

If teams can’t agree on a rule interpretation, a second ball should be played under the disputed rule. If the hole result determines a final match outcome, present all evidence to the National Match Play Administration as soon after the match as practical. Include pictures or video evidence if that will help NMP Admin make a decision. Again, our decision will be final.


  • December 31, 2023: Updates related to the Season 2024.
  • March 1, 2023: Few updates related to the new Season.