“Maximum Score” Rule Used To Speed Up Play

The game of golf can be a cruel sport. We’ve seen some of the best players in the world have blowup holes, which are not only embarrassing but can also slow the pace of play drastically. With this in mind, the USGA has added a new stroke play format that will help speed up the pace of play when used.

According to the USGA, “Maximum Score” will be a new, additional form of stroke play. A player’s score for each hole is capped at a maximum set by the Committee, which may be fixed (such as 6, 8, 10, etc.), related to par (such as two times par or triple bogey), or related to the player’s handicap (such as net double bogey).

A player who does not complete a hole (often referred to informally as “picking up”) will not be disqualified, but simply gets the maximum score for the hole.

Reasons for Change

    • The need to hole out on every hole in stroke play can have at least two downsides: (1) it often leads to a slow pace of play, and (2) it may discourage golfers who feel they no longer have a realistic chance to compete or to make a good score for the round once they get a very high score on one or two holes.
    • Maximum Score will be an alternative form of play that addresses both concerns, by allowing a player to “pick up” when he or she scores at or above the maximum and by capping the player’s score for any hole at the maximum.
    • The Maximum Score form of play will be unlikely to be used for elite play, but it may be useful in many other contexts, such as for play by beginners or golfers who are less skilled or experienced and, more generally, for club level and day-to-day play when pace of play is a particular concern.