WHS and Winter Golf


  • 02 December 2020

Acceptable Scores

For Clubs who run Competitions and want scores to be acceptable for Handicap Purposes:-

  1. Competitions must be run over 9 or 18 Holes.
  2. Rounds must be played in accordance with Rule 2.1 of the Rules of Handicapping Page 26.
  3. Preferred lies are allowable under the guidance below.
  4. Scaling up is allowed in accordance with Rule 3.2 of the Rules of Handicapping (Page 36/37).

Non-Acceptable Scores

For Clubs who run Competitions where scores are not acceptable for Handicap Purposes a neutral slope of 113, if desired, and a Course rating equal to the Par of the holes being played can be used.

1.             Clubs who use Software to run the competition can follow the guidelines within the software to cater for unrated courses.

2.             Clubs who run their competitions manually can use the Handicap Index as the basis for the calculation of a Course Handicap and/or Playing Handicap which should then be adjusted relative to the number of holes being played. 

Scores for Initial Handicap Allocation

Scores for Initial Handicap Allocation can be submitted during the Winter period provided they meet the requirements of Rule 2.1 of the Rules of Handicapping (Page 26).  Preferred Lies (Mats) on closely mown areas is allowable.


Current guidance on the Preferred Lies Period

Preferred Lies - Model Local Rules E-2 and E-3.

In Ireland, the Preferred Lies period is from November 1st to April 30th.  Clubs can run competitions where scores are acceptable for handicapping purposes during this period when both Model Local Rule E-2 and E-3 are in force.  It is recommended that a Local Rule permitting preferred lies in the general area outside of the preferred lies period should be used only in extreme circumstances where scores will not be accepted for handicapping purpose (WHS Guidance document Appendix H).


The purpose of Model Local Rule E-2 is to allow players to clean the ball in the general area when conditions throughout parts of the course cause mud to stick to the ball.  This allows the ball to be cleaned and replaced and should be limited tothose portions of the course where needed.  The ball must be marked before lifting and cleaning and must be replaced on its original spot before playing. 


The purpose of preferred lies as described in Model Local Rule E-3 is to protect areas of the course cut to fairway height or less.  This Model Local Rule allows players to lift, clean and place the ball within six inches in the General Area cut to fairway height.  It is recommended that the ball should be marked before lifting.  The ball must be placed in the relief area within six inches of the reference point. 


During the Preferred Lie period scores may not be returned for handicapping purposes if any of the following local rules or restrictions apply:-

1.       Preferred lies in the general area or where the relief area exceeds 6 inches

2.       The ball is lifted from the fairway and placed or dropped in the semi-rough

3.       The competition is over less than 18 holes but is not a 9 hole competition 

4.       If the competition is played using winter tees or greens and a temporary modification to the course and slope ratings has not been approved by the area authority

5.       Where the use of fairway mats does not follow the rules provided in the WHS Guidance document Appendix H GH/2.


Issued by the joint WHS Committee

1st December 2020