MANUALS: SPRING GOLF
2023 Spring Golf
Manuals provide the most up to date policies, rules, and regulations for Iowa High School Athletic Association sports in the regular season and postseason. Member school athletic directors and head coaches seeking more information or clarifications on the contents of this manual should contact the IHSAA sport administrator for this sport, Chad Elsberry. All other inquiries should be directed through athletic directors or coaches at member schools or host schools.
Unless the IHSAA Board of Control adopts other rules, USGA rules will govern high school golf. Coaches have the responsibility of being knowledgeable of USGA rules and all policies concerning tennis as established by the IHSAA.
For more information on concussions or sport safety, please visit the Health & Safety resource page.
To search this manual, click a topic header from the Index above or select Find (Ctrl + F) from your keyboard.
School enrollment numbers from each year inform the following school year’s classifications for IHSAA sanctioned sports. Enrollment numbers are provided by the Basic Educational Data Survey (BEDS) from the Iowa Department of Education. To view other sports or overall BEDS numbers, view the Classifications page.
Four classes with 3A, 2A, 1A in spring season
4A: Largest 48 schools, others requesting to play up. Fall season.
3A: Next largest 64 schools.
2A: Next largest 96 schools.
1A: Remaining schools.
GENERAL RULES FOR INTERSCHOLASTIC GOLF
The following rules will govern all interscholastic golf in Iowa.
- The players in their groupings will keep score. All players are required to provide their previous hole score to the entire group on the next tee box, before anyone puts a ball in play. Players in the group are responsible to record the necessary scores on scorecards. (Please see IHSAA Scoring Method listed above)
- Coaches are not to make rulings on the course, let all players in the threesome or foursome decide. If the players are unable to agree, have the player involved play a second ball and let the rules committee make a ruling when he finishes the round (before any member in the group signs the scorecard).
- At the conclusion of play (each day, one or two-day tournament) every player in the group needs to verify that all scores are correct.
- The Golf Rules Committee (coaches’ jury) selected from the assembled schools will decide on all disputes. The coaches’ jury should follow the USGA Rules of Golf and may seek assistance from an Iowa Section Certified PGA Pro and/or Club Pro when available.
- In the state meet, the Iowa Section Certified PGA and/or Club Pro will make all final decisions regarding USGA Rules.
- Any player who fails to finish play is considered to have withdrawn from the meet/tournament and his score(s) will not count.
- In regular season, sectional, district, and state competition, no caddies are allowed. No motorized golf carts will be allowed except for disability reasons and must be pre-approved in writing by the IHSAA. Non-motorized pull carts are permitted, individuals desiring to use pull carts must supply their own non-motorized pull cart at each meet. This rule applies to regular season and/or tournament play.
- There shall be no coaching of golfers by parents or spectators. Spectators are to remain a reasonable distance behind the golfers while watching so as not to hinder play. Should there be any interference by spectators with play in any way the spectator(s) are subject to being asked to leave the premises by the management. Spectators should remain approximately 30 yards behind the golfers on the course or on the cart path when observing play other than to cross fairways without interfering with players. No spectator may instruct and/or advise a player about any shot selection a player is going to make. Once the players reach the green area, spectators should move over to the cart path, even with the green, to allow the next group of players to continue play.
- In multi-team tournaments, the tournament manager should make every effort to avoid the necessity of having players from the same town, even though from different schools, play in the same threesomes and foursomes. This may not be possible in some cases.
- All schools are expected to start play as scheduled.
- At the conclusion of competition, coaches should verify posted scores. When the teams/individuals leave the course and the final standings have been posted, they are considered official and there will be no changing of the results.
- Any player who plays without a shirt is automatically disqualified.
- In regular season and all tournament play, if a player is injured or becomes ill, there shall be no substitute for him during the round.
- The casual use of cell phones (texting, talking, internet search, etc.) is prohibited during regular season and tournament play except for the use as a rangefinder or official scorekeeping. No cell phone for general use may occur until the player’s round is completed and the scorecard is submitted to the official scorer. One exception to player use of a cell phone is in case of an emergency during the round.
- In response to USGA Rule 4.3a(4), the IHSAA shall expand its local rule banning casual use of cell phones to include restrictions on all portable audio/video devices that players might watch or listen to during the course of play. Penalty will result in disqualification of the player.
- A player disqualified from a meet/tournament for unsportsmanlike conduct is disqualified for the entire event (rest of the tournament or multiple day event), whether it is a one-day or two-day event.
- Coaches, during regular season and tournament play, players are required to walk to the starting tee.
- The individual hole by hole score is what counts on a player’s scorecard. Even if the score is added incorrectly, the hole-by-hole score is the player’s score for that round. Scores must be entered under the correct holes and adhere to USGA Rules for scoring.
IHSAA CODE OF CONDUCT FOR PLAYERS
The IHSAA local rule governing code of conduct for players prescribes that a verbal warning shall be issued on the first offense for conduct unbecoming high school players. Such conduct shall include, but is not limited to:
- Club throwing or ball throwing defined as could cause harm to another participant, spectator, course or means of releasing frustration.
- Use of abusive language.
- Willful acts which damage property or equipment on the course.
- Other unbecoming conduct as determined by the Golf Rules Committee (coaches’ jury).
Second offense, the player shall be assessed a two-stroke penalty.
Third offense, the player shall be disqualified.
In regular season meets, the code of conduct shall be enforced by the Golf Rules Committee (coaches’ jury) which in dual meets is comprised of the two head coaches and/or PGA pro serving as the rules interpreter in that dual meet. In multi-team competitions, the designated three-person coaches’ jury and/or PGA pro serving as the rules interpreter shall comprise the Golf Rules Committee.
Players and coaches have the discretion to alert the Golf Rules Committee if they believe a Code of Conduct violation has occurred.
The IHSAA Code of Conduct Rule does not negate the ability to enforce USGA Rule 1.2a for “serious misconduct” which may result in immediate disqualification. The phrase “serious misconduct” in Rule 1.2a is intended to cover player misconduct that is so far removed from the expected norm in golf that the most severe sanction of removing a player from the competition is justified. The committee must determine if the misconduct is serious considering all the circumstances. Please refer to USGA Rule 1.2a Interpretations for further clarification.
Any player who uses tobacco (including smokeless and similar devices) or gambles on the course is automatically disqualified per USGA Rule 1.2a for serious misconduct. In the case of gambling between players, the players involved are disqualified in that given
Eligibility Rule 14(2) Penalties: Any student disqualified from an interscholastic contest by game officials for flagrant, violent, or verbal misconduct will be ineligible for the next regular scheduled game/meet at the level of competition and all other games/meets in the interim at any level in addition to any other penalties the IHSAA or school may assess. The second violation carries a four games/meets automatic ineligibility. It will be the responsibility of the host school meet manager to report any disqualification(s) to the IHSAA the day following the meet, if the meet is held on a Friday or Saturday, then on the Monday following the meet. It is the coach’s responsibility to inform his/her administrator of any disqualification(s). The administrator will file an official report form with the IHSAA on-line.
The IHSAA and the Golf Coaches Advisory Committee feel the code of conduct rules are appropriate.
STROKE PLAY – THE GAME OF GOLF
For all regular season and IHSAA sanctioned tournament play (district or state meets), USGA playing rules will be followed unless modified by the local committee or IHSAA manual. As noted in USGA Rule 1.1, the ball shall be played as it lies except as otherwise provided in the rules.
Errors or Discrepancies: Any errors or discrepancies that take place during stroke play are to be corrected prior to turning in the scorecard to the official scorer. The round begins with the first tee of the competition and ends when the scorecard has been attested to and turned in, then it is too late to make corrections and all scores stand. Coaches should verify with the tournament manager the scores are correct when posted. If the head coach elects not to attend the posting of scores and verify his team score(s) are posted correctly, then the player(s) scores stand as posted. This will not preclude circling a given hole(s) score for the committee or coaches’ jury to review at the conclusion of play, but it would permit a correctable situation at the completion of play, prior to turning it in to the official scorer. Coaches should remind their golfers to record the score after completion of each hole (all players involved). If there is any discrepancy, players should make every effort to resolve the discrepancy before playing the next hole. If the discrepancy can’t be resolved, circle the hole/score and seek a ruling from the coaches’ jury before turning in scorecards.
At the conclusion of play (each competition day) every player in the group needs to verify that all scores are correct. If there is any discrepancy, the group should go to the coaches’ jury and/or PGA pro serving as the rules interpreter before turning in the scores. Coaches may view a player’s scorecard immediately following the round, but coaches should not hold on to scorecards while waiting for other team members to finish.
SCHOOLS WHO MAKE EXCEPTIONS TO USGA RULES DURING THE SEASON (LOCAL RULES)
Prior to the event, schools that make exceptions to USGA rules during the regular season must have them in writing and communicated to all the schools involved, otherwise USGA rules apply except for IHSAA manual differences during the regular season and tournament play. All IHSAA sanctioned tournaments will follow USGA playing rules unless otherwise specified by tournament management.
During regular season or IHSAA sanctioned tournament play (sectional, district or state meet), players are not allowed to chip or putt on any hole on the course (before competition begins), this also applies once competition play begins regardless if you have completed the hole in tournament competition, excluding the practice green(s). In regular season, check with meet management pertaining to the opportunity for a player to chip or putt on a completed competition green.
If a player is disqualified for any unsporting like act, he is ejected from the entire one or two-day tournament. If a player is deemed disqualified from any two-day tournament on day one, for a misapplication of a rule, illness/injury after he has put his ball in play/started competition (not unsportsmanlike conduct), the player is disqualified and his score will not count the day he is disqualified. This individual would be able to compete and his score would count on the second day only of a two-day event. The coaches’ jury at this particular tournament site would make the final ruling pertaining to any unusual circumstances dealing with a disqualification except for unsportsmanlike behavior.
PRACTICE DATES AND PLAYING DATES FOR 2023
First legal practice date is Monday, March 13. First legal playing date is Monday, March 27.
Sectional tournaments will be May 10.
District tournaments will be May 15.
Sectional & District postseason dates are dependent on course availability.
State tournaments will be May 22 and 23.
COMPETITION DATES FOR PLAYERS
Each individual player may participate in 12 dates of competition during the season. This means a school may schedule 12 varsity matches and 12 junior varsity matches. The point of clarification here is, no player is permitted to participate in more than a total of 12 playing dates. Each day of participation counts toward one of your 12 playing dates. All regular season two-day tournaments count as two competition dates. If part of a scheduled competition is played and you are rained out, you may postpone or reschedule the competition and it is considered as one playing date. A competition date is considered 9 or 18 holes of scheduled play.
MANDATORY REPORTING OF SCORES/STATISTICS
Head Golf Coaches are required to post team and individual varsity meet scores/statistics following each meet online using the Bound website. Statistical data needs to be entered by 3:00 PM on each Tuesday listed below:
- Tuesday, April 11 for meets through April 8
- Tuesday, April 25 for meets through April 22
- Tuesday, May 9 for meets through May 6
In addition, final scores/statistics need to be entered at the conclusion of your regular season and after each postseason meet. The penalty for failure to report on time is as follows:
- First offense: a letter/e-mail to the head coach and athletic director from the IHSAA sport administrator giving 3 days to comply with the mandate.
- Second offense: a letter to the athletic director with a copy to the principal and superintendent from the IHSAA executive director, giving 3 days to comply with the mandate.
- Third offense: IHSAA member school’s expense allowances will be withheld by the IHSAA in the sport in which the third offense occurred.
GOLF SCRIMMAGE ALLOWANCE
One scrimmage between IHSAA member schools shall be permitted between the date of first legal practice and the final day of State Tournament play. The scrimmage shall be played under normal rules or used for a special format (alternate, best shot, etc.). Teams may travel up to and including 100 miles from the home high school for scrimmages, providing this is without loss of school time. On a non-school day, a team may exceed this 100-mile limit with local school administration approval.
TEAM OR INDIVIDUAL PRACTICE ROUND DEPARTURE TIME
When a golf team or individual desires to go to an IHSAA tournament site for a practice round during school time, the coach needs to have local school administrations approval, in accordance with the IHSAA Handbook Practice Regulation. If a school desires to practice during school time, this practice round policy is now a local school administration decision.
The top two overall individual players (plus ties) at each site from among the non-qualifying teams will advance from each Sectional to District tournament. Similarly, the top two overall individual players (plus ties) at each site from among the non-qualifying teams will advance from each District to the State Tournament. This will create opportunities for at least two individuals from among the non-qualifying teams to advance from each site in the postseason. This also creates a uniform qualifying process in the postseason. The process for team qualifiers from Sectional to District to State remains the same as in the past. Further information and an explanation of tiebreakers will be part of the postseason manual.
TWO AUTHORIZED COACHES ALLOWED
IHSAA coaching regulation: Permit the designated golf coaches (maximum of two authorized coaches) to coach a player up until the player and the player’s ball are on the green. If any part of the player’s ball is on the actual green, the ball is considered on the green. Once the player arrives at the green (no delay by the player) the team or individual designated coach can have no more communication with competing player(s) until all players in the group have holed out. If a player hits a shot from 100 yards out and the ball lands on the green, the designated coach may communicate with this young man up until they reach the green (providing no delay walking to the green). Once the player is on the green, coach/player communication must cease. Keep in mind each team and or individual(s), are only allowed to have two designated coaches communicate with players while competition is in progress. When providing advice – an authorized coach must not enter a bunker.
Designated Coaches are not to assist or instruct a player regarding any putting on the green. If no part of the player’s ball is on the actual green, coach instruction is permitted. Coaches must understand that there is to be no delaying of play when providing instruction during the prescribed coaching time. The designated coach must understand this is additional time to coach player(s), but when visiting with players the pace of play shall not be delayed. This rule also allows the designated head coach an opportunity to address speed of play to players who have fallen behind the group in front of them.
GOLF SHIRT REGULATION
All varsity participants in regular season and postseason tournament competition must wear similar (color and style) school issued or school approved golf uniform shirt (collared or non-collared), during competition. Due to adverse weather conditions, if an individual VARSITY player desires to wear clothing (jacket/sweatshirt) over the top of his shirt, this jacket/sweatshirt does not need to be the same as his teammates. All attire worn at all levels shall be school approved and have no alcohol, tobacco or any inappropriate graphic on the clothing. Please remember the only attire that needs to be the same is the collard or non-collared shirt on each varsity participant.
The IHSAA’s golf uniform shirt regulation shall be enforced as an IHSAA Golf code of conduct issue. This prescribes that a verbal warning shall be issued when the player/committee/coaches’ jury becomes aware of the breach. The player has until the completion of the next hole to comply with the golf uniform shirt regulation to avoid a penalty. If the player does not comply, then a two-stroke penalty will be applied. If the player still does not comply in a timely manner then a penalty of disqualification will be imposed.
CELL PHONES FOR SCORING & AS RANGEFINDERS
Cell phones are allowed during competition as distance only rangefinders and for official competition score entry. Neither coaches nor players should communicate via cell phone except in case of emergency on the course. Cell phones are not available for casual use by players during competition. Use of a cell phone for unauthorized purpose(s) will result in a code of conduct violation per IHSAA rules.
RANGEFINDER DEVICES (Laser & GPS)
Rangefinder devices (laser & GPS) are permitted during the regular season and throughout the IHSAA postseason. A player may obtain distance information ONLY from the rangefinder. Cell phones (including distance apps), iPods, Smartwatches (a touchscreen wearable computer in the form of a wristwatch) are permitted during competition. Devices designed to measure conditions other than distance are now permitted, PROVIDED the golfer only uses the device for distance measurement and not for the following banned information, which includes but is not limited to, wind speed, slope, or club selection. Players will be penalized if they use their rangefinder to measure anything but distance as a code of conduct violation and/or serious misconduct violation.
Players and coaches (coaches that are permitted to coach tee to green) are encouraged to share distance information upon request. A player with a rangefinder may shoot distance from their position on the course and relay that information upon request to another player, provided the process does not delay play. Spectators will not be allowed to provide or assist golfers with distance information.
COACH, PLAYER & SPECTATOR CELL PHONES
If a coach/spectator cell phone rings while a player’s swing is in progress, the player may take his original shot or hit a second ball. If the player elects to hit a second shot, the player must take the second shot regardless of the outcome. Understand, if a player’s cell phone rings during competition the player is assessed a code of conduct violation. Player Cell phones for casual usage are prohibited during regular season and all tournament play. No casual usage of a cell phone is allowed by a player until his round is completed and his score is turned into the official scorer. One exception to player use of a cell phone is in case of an emergency during the course of play.
IHSAA RULE ON AUDIO AND/OR VIDEO DEVICES
In response to USGA Rule 4.3a(4), the IHSAA shall expand its local rule banning casual use of cell phones to include restrictions on all portable audio/video devices that players might watch or listen to during the course of play. Penalty will result in a code of conduct violation.
FOOD AND DRINKS AT GOLF SITES
Coaches may provide water or sport drinks for the players throughout the one or two-day event. Coaches will be permitted to provide a sandwich or energy bar for the players. Golf courses are hosting events for a minimal green fee, and we need to respect their opportunity to sell food and drink at their courses. Coaches are not to place coolers out on the course, they are to keep only a small portable cooler with them in their car or on their cart and provide food to their players only as they see fit. Coaches are not to provide food for spectators nor will spectators be allowed to bring food or drink on the premises. The IHSAA appreciates your cooperation pertaining to this regulation. Please notify your spectators of this regulation.
Spectators are not to interfere in any way, should not have conversations with players, should keep their distance from the players, and have no influence on the results. If any interference occurs, spectators may be asked to leave.
COACHES MAKING RULINGS
Coaches must understand that they are not rules consultants during the course of competition. Coaches are not to rule on something they see, even if you feel it may have been a rules infraction. Let the players play and if any questions arise, players should notify a member in their group and resolve the problem or hit a second ball and get a ruling when competition is completed and before any member in the group signs off on a scorecard. It is understandable that coaches want to assist in making rulings, but there are times when an incorrect ruling is provided and there is no recourse.
GUIDANCE FOR BREAKING OF TEAM TIES IN REGULAR SEASON EVENTS
TEAM TIEBREAKER: Breaking of all team ties will be decided by using the fifth player’s score of that day, and if the tie is not broken with the fifth player’s score, use the sixth player’s score. In the event a given team has only four players and the team they are tied with has five players, the team with five players would break the tie and be declared the winner. If a team has only five players and a team tie still exists after using each team’s fifth players’ score, the team with six players would break the tie and be declared the winner. This makes the fifth and sixth player’s score more meaningful in the team concept. In a multi-team tournament scenario, if the team tie remains after using the fifth and sixth players score, a three-hole play-off should take place, using only the players’ scores who counted that day. If the three-hole play-off does not break the team tie, then utilize sudden death.
UTILIZING MAXIMUM SCORE FORMAT IN REGULAR SEASON EVENTS
As per USGA local rules, the practice of utilizing a maximum score format is available for Iowa interscholastic competitions during the regular season. In particular, maximum score format is sometimes utilized with sub-varsity competition. The IHSAA Golf Advisory Committee suggests a maximum score of 10 strokes should competing teams desire to implement that local rule in a regular season event. Postseason tournaments under IHSAA supervision will not implement a maximum score format.
“Maximum Score” is a new, additional form of stroke play: A player’s score for each hole is capped at a maximum, which the IHSAA recommends be 10 strokes. A player who does not complete a hole (often referred to informally as “picking up”) is not disqualified, but simply gets the maximum score for the hole. To help pace of play, players are encouraged to stop playing a hole when their score has reached the maximum. The hole is completed when the player holes out, chooses not do so or when his score has reached the maximum.
For a complete overview of maximum score format, please see USGA Rule 21.2 in the full version of the 2019 USGA Rules of Golf.
If thunder is heard or lightning is seen, immediately suspend the contest and instruct everyone to take safe shelter. Once the contest is suspended due to lightning, wait at least 30 minutes after hearing the last thunder or seeing lightning before resuming the contest. Complete guidelines regarding lightning safety appear on the IHSAA website. Remember, lightning often strikes as far as 10 miles away from the storm. Each host school should have a lightning safety plan, which includes knowing where teams & spectators will go and how long it will take them to get there safely.
HAZARDOUS WEATHER GUIDELINES
The primary concern when signs of hazardous weather are present is the safety of participants and spectators. Have a safety plan for any type of hazardous weather that may occur. Practice and follow the plan. Know where people will go for safety and know how much time it will take for them to get there. Have specific guidelines for suspending the event so everyone has time to reach a place of safety before the threat becomes significant.