PGA Rules

This is how we do what we do!


The Potomac Golf Association plays to USGA rules and any local variations designated by each course.

Local/Association modifications to the rules:

  1. Lost balls: the player may drop a ball near the point of where they feel the ball was lost, with agreement of their playing partners, under penalty of two strokes.
  2. Out-of-bounds (OB): may be played as a lateral hazard; i.e., drop within two clubs of the out of-bounds area where your ball lost crossed the margin of the OB under penalty of two strokes.
  3. In either case 1 or 2 above, the player retains the right to play a provisional ball and then proceed under that rule.
  4. The lift, clean, and place rule, within one club length, in your own fairway, applies throughout the season.

The league coordinators will designate the tees to be used for each outing.

In an effort to control the length of time of 2023 PGA outings, we should strive for a standard of five hours. Our better-ball format easily supports completion of rounds within this time period.


The format and scoring rules for 2023 remain unchanged from previous years. The scoring format is the "better ball" of the partners. Record clearly on the card on the better of the two scores for that hole (only one score) as the team gross score for that hole! At the end of the round, add up the "team" gross scores per hole and mark that sum clearly on your card. During post-round scoring, your gross score will be adjusted by the Handicap Chairperson and League Coordinators using your "team" handicap to get the "team" net score.

Both gross and net scores are eligible for prizes. Teams which qualify for both a gross and a net prize will receive the higher (more valuable) prize, but not both.

The coordinators will resolve any ties by the USGA recommended procedure for breaking ties; i.e., comparing the last nine hole scores, then the last 6 hole scores, then the last three hole scores, then starting at the number 1 handicap hole, until the tie is broken.

Please ensure that you turn in your team's scorecard promptly after each round to allow scoring to be completed in a timely manner. Also, clearly label your score card with your team names and total team gross score. The Handicap Chairperson and League Coordinators will determine your net score from your gross score, so please don´t apply any handicap on your scorecard.

Final season standings will be calculated using the final round team score plus the other three lowest team scores for the 2023 season. A team cannot win an end-of-year prize unless:

  • at least one member of the team plays in the final round, and
  • the team had posted at least three team scores prior to the final scheduled round of play

If, for any round, a PGA team member plays with a substitute, then only the individual PGA team member´s score will normally be eligible for gross/net prize awards for that scheduled round. However, there is one exception: If a PGA member playing with a substitute pays an additional $10 prize entry fee prior to that scheduled round (see USE OF SUBSTITUTES), that temporary team is eligible for award of gross prizes ONLY for that round.

USE OF SUBSTITUTES:  [Back to top]

You are encouraged to fill out your twosome with a substitute for any scheduled round whenever a PGA teammate is unable to participate. However, any cost for the round that is not paid by a substitute will be assessed to the team. Note that the use of a substitute does not remove eligibility for prizes. The following rules apply to the use of substitutes:

NET: A team cannot win any net prize (match or year). However, a PGA team member´s individual score will be eligible for net prizes.

GROSS: Since prizes are paid for by PGA membership dues, monthly gross prizes may be won with a substitute contributing only if the PGA member playing with the substitute pays a $10 prize entry fee for that scheduled outing. However, a PGA team member´s individual score will be eligible for gross prizes.

HANDICAPS:  [Back to top]

General Rule:

Team handicaps are established by the recommended USGA process for establishing handicaps; i.e., the lowest half of up to your last 20 scores, rounding down for the number of rounds. For example, if a team has 5 official scores, their handicap will be established using the lowest 2 of those five scores.

Returning Teams:

Returning Teams carry over their year-end handicap from the previous season(s). Team handicaps are established following the General Rule above, whether the round is in the current or previous PGA season.

New Teams:

New Teams are defined as those consisting of: (1) entirely new PGA members; (2) an existing PGA member paired with a new member; (3) existing PGA members paired in a new Team combination; and (4) existing PGA Teams that have not competed in a PGA outing in the previous two years.

A new Team will establish its handicap after their first round. The team’s handicap will then be calculated using the USGA process for their second round and beyond.

Handicap Exceptions

Exception 1:  Scores posted by teams fielding substitutes do not count for handicapping purposes. (Treat PGA team member as a single, if applicable.)

Exception 2:  A score posted by a team with only a single player does not count for handicapping unless it lowers the team handicap. Please note that a member playing without his or her regular partner needs to record his or her individual gross score (as well as any team gross score) if playing with a substitute that has posted the $10 fee - (see SCORING and USE OF SUBSTITUTES).

PRIZES*:  [Back to top]

So, a few things/changes are needed to be made and these are all based off of the number of teams/players we have for each outing. With the limited numbers for membership, we need to adjust the format/prizes and such to keep within our budget. Hopefully, things will turn in the future and we can get back to the normal format of our league.

  1. The 2023 Entry fee is $100 per player.

  2. We will need to do tee times instead of shotgun starts for some events since we do not have more than 32 players.

  3. Prize payouts for individual team each month and team year-end prizes will be net only (handicap). Gross prize payouts will need to be removed/postponed this year.

  4. We are dropping Longest Drive but keeping all Closest-to-The-Pins.

  5. We are playing at courses in bothn Maryland and Virginia this year.

We hope these changes don’t rock the boat too much! But in trying to keep the league going, we think these changes will help.

2023 NOTES:

  1. The PGA Coordinators will prepay green fees and then collect payments from members on the day of the outing. Please plan to pay greens fees by check or cash. Checks should be made payable to Stephan Golis.

  2. The burden is ON YOU not to incur any unnecessary cost. Each course will be provided a guaranteed number of players 10-15 days in advance of our outing. As was the policy in past years, you can either play or decline to play any scheduled golf outing. Regardless of your decision, please send an email or call a PGA Coordinator 10-15 days in advance of the next scheduled outing.

    NOTE: If you have committed to play, you will be responsible for Course Fees if you do not let us know 15 days in advance of an event that you will not be available to play that scheduled outing! An email announcement 7-10 days prior to each event will specify any who have announced they are not playing in that event. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy of those announcements and correct any errors in enough time to rectify them.

    Any costs incurred as a result of your NO-SHOW will be passed on to you. Our "prepay process" has worked well, so we expect your continued cooperation. If you are scheduled to play but cannot because of your job or other circumstances - you can find a substitute for that round (see PGA Rules for restrictions on substitutes). Please let League Coordinators know about your intent to play or not play at a scheduled PGA outing.

  3. If you desire to play with a particular team at any scheduled outing, send your match pairings to Stepan Golis at at least three weeks in advance for scheduling purposes. Pairings received after that cutoff will normally not be accepted.

[Back to top]


The first-place NET team will assume the duties of League Coordinators for the 2024 season. In case of a refusal to perform, this duty will pass to the second-place team and so forth (until no members are left). Anyone refusing to accept his or her "special prize" will be banned from membership for a period of three years. A second refusal will result in permanent expulsion. A FIVE-YEAR EXEMPTION is enacted for sitting league coordinators before they become eligible again, so if they are in first place, the second place team gets this honor. Also, note that the web site maintainer's team is exempt. Be aware that if a PGA member forms a new team, any exemption that he or she may have does NOT carry over as they will be considered a new team and will be subject to all rules and regulations applicable to new teams.

Remember that this is an informal and enjoyable gathering and your amateur status is not in jeopardy. The bottom line is to have fun. Interpretation of rules, if necessary, can be brought to the attention of the league coordinators for a final decision.