League Rules




The purpose of the League is to have a competitive golf league that can be enjoyed by anyone affiliated with Princeton University. Although there are awards provided, the main goal is to provide a fair and spirited environment where members can enjoy the camaraderie and sportsmanship of golf. Please do your best to make the League enjoyable for everyone and treat your opponents and the course with respect.



    1. Teams will be composed of at least one member with an affiliation to Princeton University, unless special accommodation is agreed to by the League officers.
    2. There are two courses for league play. The A Flight will play the odd numbered matches at course “X” and the even numbered matches at course “Y”. The B Flight will do vice versa. Teams may, through mutual consent of opponents, play at courses other than these.
    3. Officially, tee-off time is between 4:00 and 4:40 PM. However, teams may, through mutual consent of opponents and consent of the golf course starter, make different arrangements.
    4. There will be League Dues of $50.00 required from each regular player, and $35.00 from students (either graduate or undergraduate) and substitutes. The League dues will be used for prizes or any other necessary expenses incurred during the year and for the fall League playoff. Substitute players must pay a fee of $35.00 after playing in three matches.
    5. A team will consist of two persons who have registered their team with the League.
    6. The League will be divided into two flights based upon total team handicaps. Section A will be the lower handicap flight and Section B will be the higher handicap flight. The maximum number of teams will be 36 (18 for Flight A and 18 for Flight B).

    1. USGA rules for Match Play and local rules will prevail (except as noted below).
      1. Local rules are defined as all local rules posted by the golf course being played as well as a local rules sheet written by the Committee and posted on the League website. The local rules sheet posted on the website may change based on course conditions. It is the player’s responsibility to be familiar with the current posted local rules.
    2. A match will consist of a 9-hole round played by two scheduled opposing teams.
    3. If for any reason fewer than five holes of a match are completed, the match is not complete. That card is canceled and that match is replayed unless the match is conceded.
    4. The female members of the League are to use the ladies’ tees (usually red), male members are to use the men’s tees, over 65 years old have the option of playing the senior tees.
    5. The League will play winter rules as defined below:
      1. Unfair Lie Rule: if your ball rests in ground which may be considered ground under repair, you may place a ball at the nearest point of relief, no closer to the hole, without penalty, only after notifying and receiving permission from your opponent.
      2. A Flight and B Flight: any player may roll the ball over only in his/her own fairway (within 6 inches of original position). In no case should the ball be moved closer to the green.
      3. A Flight and B Flight: any player may lift the ball in any bunker, rake and replace the ball as near as possible to the spot it lay, but no closer to the hole. If the ball was found plugged in its own ball mark, the player may lift and rake, but then must drop the ball, no closer to the hole.
    6. Out of bounds penalty:
      A Flight and B Flight: Follow USGA rules
    7. Lost ball penalty:
      A Flight and B Flight: Follow USGA rules and play a provisional if you think the ball may be lost.  If you hit your ball in play, cannot find it, and did not hit a provisional, you can take a TWO stroke penalty.  Remember: always play your original ball if it can be found; you should play a provisional if you feel your original shot may be lost; if you cannot find your original ball and you did not play a provision – shame on you; however, you can drop a ball where you feel you lost it, incurring a two stroke penalty.
    8. If there are any questions concerning a USGA ruling try to resolve the problem on the same hole (prior to the next tee off). Discuss your concerns with your opponents. If you still have a question, contact a League official or a member of the rules committee, by the end of the next working day for advice. Enter the card of record after the problem has been resolved.
    9. Splitting Matches – matches cannot be split.  Meaning, each match must be played.
    10. Playing Separately – All matches should be played together whenever possible.  The purpose of the league is social as much as it is about playing golf.  Additionally, the competitive nature is different when playing head to head.  That is why there are two make-up weeks scheduled each season.  That said, since we all have busy lives there may be times when it is not possible to play a match at the same time.  Groups may play separately, and then enter the scores onto the same scorecard.  However, the matches MUST be played on the same course, the same 9 (i.e. front or back nine), and during the same week otherwise the handicapping will not work.
    11. Pace of Play – Pace of play continues to plague golf and PUGL is no exception.  Searching for lost balls contributes to slow play.  As such, there is a (3) three minute time limit on searching for lost balls.  Additionally, both flights now have an option to drop a ball to continue play in a more expeditious manner (see item G above).  

    1. A player who has established a handicap in previous Princeton League play shall use his/her established handicap, carried forward from the previous year. If the player has been absent from the league for one or more years, the handicap will need to be reestablished as if the player were new to the league.
    2. Handicaps are calculated by the imagolfer website automatically. The system calculates handicaps using the following formula: (average score – average par)*0.8, using the 6 lowest of the last 9 scores, rounded to the nearest whole number.
    3. New players without an established handicap will use the following formulas for handicap calculation depending on information provided in order below (rounded to nearest whole number):
      1. USGA handicap index. Applied as is.
      2. Five recent scores submitted. USGA handicap formula applied to the scores.
      3. Fewer than five recent scores submitted. Use the imagolfer handicap formula using all scores, discounted by 10%.
      4. Anecdotal reporting of scores. Discounted by 20%.
    4. Adjusted scores are required for handicap calculation. The PUGL uses the Equitable Stroke Control (ESC) procedure that was adopted by the USGA as of January 1, 1993. This method uses a maximum number of strokes that a player can take on any hole regardless of the par, based on the player’s handicap. See the table below:

      Player’s nine hole handicap
      4 or fewer
      5 through 9
      10 through 14
      15 through 19
      20 or more

      Maximum number on any hole
      Double Bogey

      For League play, the League website automatically adjusts for ESC, so the player simply enters the actual score taken into the website exactly as is and the computer makes the appropriate adjustments. If a player picks up their ball and does not complete play on a given hole, they should enter the maximum number from the chart above based on their handicap, assuming that number will not affect the outcome of the hole. If a player picks up and does not complete play, this ball is immediately considered out of play and cannot be used in calculating team score for the hole. This may mean entering a score higher than the maximum number occasionally.

    5. Handicap strokes are to be taken on the holes in the order in which they appear on the golf score card.
      NOTE: The maximum handicap for the A Flight is 10. There is no maximum handicap for the B Flight.
    6. The League members will maintain a website where teams can post weekly scores and handicap updates. If mutually agreed upon, one person may post scores for all players in a given match, but it is the responsibility of each team member to validate the correct and timely posting of all match scores. Scores should be validated by all players in the match within 36 hours, and after that point the scores will stand even if an error is discovered after that point.
    7. It is expected that members will play their best possible games throughout the season. If any member is found to be carelessly taking strokes when it will affect handicap, that conduct will be considered unsportsmanlike, for which the penalty is expulsion from the League.

    1. A match will be forfeited when a team is not on the first tee ready to play thirty minutes after the last official tee time and the other team has at least one member on the first tee ready to play. If the teams have previously agreed to a tee time other than those dictated by the course of play a match will be forfeited if a team is not on the first tee ready to play thirty minutes after the agreed upon time and the other team is on the first tee ready to play, assuming there has been no notification. If you expect a last minute schedule conflict, please keep the pro shop phone numbers available. However, please keep in mind the mission of the PUGL is to play golf, not enforce forfeits; every effort should be made to reschedule matches rather than accept forfeits.
    2. A team that has three no-shows for scheduled matches will be disqualified for league play for the remainder of the year. Holes won for their opponents in matches played will stand as played, and for matches scheduled, but not yet played, the scoring will be adjusted to five points for the opponents. Teams disqualified for this reason will not have their dues refunded. Scoring in the event of a team voluntarily dropping out of the league will be treated the same way.
    3. In the case of a postponed match, the postponed match should be made up as soon as possible. At any rate, it must be made up before the last scheduled day of regular League play or the team causing the original postponements will lose by forfeit. Postponed matches may be played at any time and on any course with a USGA course rating as mutually agreed upon by the two opponents.
    4. League announced postponement or course closure will result in the entire schedule of matches (for that flight) for that day being cancelled. If in doubt, call the golf course for confirmation.
    5. There are no scheduled matches in the last week of the season to allow for make-up matches. Both courses will be available.

    1. A roster of substitutes will be posted on the League website along with their League scores. Their handicaps will be used in any match they play. It is the responsibility of the players to find substitutes for specific matches, not the League’s responsibility.
    2. Any regular team member may play as a substitute in the other Flight, but may not play as a substitute in their own Flight (e.g. an A Flight member may play as a substitute in the B Flight, but may not play as a substitute in the A Flight). The score as a substitute will not be used in their own league for determining handicaps and eligibility for low gross and low net in the awarding of prizes at the end of the season.
    3. A match may be played by one member of a team if no substitute is available, but at least one member from a team must compete in any given match.
    4. Substitutes are required to submit League dues of $35.00 to a League Officer upon completion of their third match. Regular players should verify the eligibility of a needed substitute prior to the match.

    1. The matches are scored using the Four-Ball format, defined by the USGA as a “match in which two players play their better ball against the better ball of two other players.”
      The better ball of each team is defined as the one with the lowest net score. The team with the lowest net score of the better balls wins the hole.

      1. If only one member of a team plays in the match, his ball is, by definition, always the better ball for that team. The match will otherwise be scored as described in Rule 6.A. above.
    2. A total of nine points will be awarded for each match. One point will be awarded for each hole won and 1/2 point for each hole tied.
    3. The team that wins the most holes is the winner of the match. The team with the most holes won at the end of the season will be the regular season winners.
    4. In the event of a forfeit, the forfeitee will be awarded five points and the forfeitor will receive no points for the forfeited match.
    5. Players must enter scores for every match played. Scores are entered through the League website. Players should notify the League web administrator of forfeits and the web administrator will enter them.
    6. It is the responsibility of all members of each team in a given match to check the posted score for accuracy. Any changes to the posted score should be approved by all members of each team and should be made within 48 hours of completion of the match.
    7. If a team drops out of the league, all matches (played or not yet played) with that team will be handled as forfeits.
    8. Disputes will be arbitrated by the Rules Committee.
    9. Flights for playoffs will be based upon the number of holes won.
    10. All scores for the regular season must be posted by 4 P.M. on the Wednesday following the “make up Tuesday”.
    11. Teams cannot agree to “split a match” without playing the match. Matches not played must be handled as forfeits.
    12. If a match is to be played on a different course than the scheduled one, players may change the course in the imagolfer website, but if the match is scheduled for a different day or a new course needs to be added players must contact the League web administrator.
    13. If a first-time golfer shoots four or more strokes under the handicap submitted, the match will be re-scored as follows: the player’s handicap for that match will be reduced by 50% of the difference between the handicap and the score shot. This adjusted handicap will be used to re-score the match played. In subsequent matches, the golfer will use this adjusted handicap. The rule is intended to prevent “sandbagging” and applies throughout the course of the league to first-time golfers playing without established handicaps.

    1. General
      1. Slow players, and especially those looking for lost balls, should allow the next foursome to play through.
      2. Practice strokes on the tee and elsewhere should be limited when addressing the ball for the next shot.
      3. Minimize time between shots.
      4. Rules 1 and 2 apply only if the next hole is open.
      5. The team of the player with the lowest gross score on a hole has honors on the next hole even if his team did not win the hole.
      6. Contact your partner and one of your opponents before each match to find out who intends to play and, if so, at what time.
      7. Each Flight has a scheduled course and tee time each week that should be honored.  While Flights are welcomed (although not encouraged) to play at the other Flight’s course, they cannot play during the reserved times noted in Section 1, paragraph 3.
    2. First Tee Etiquette
      1. At the first tee, a coin or tee should be flipped to determine who has choice of whether to tee first or last.
      2. When your complete foursome is on the first tee, you should then get in line behind the groups who have already done so. If a starter is available, please use him or her.
      3. League Officers have precedence for starting time.

    1. The official officers of the PUGL shall usually consist of a President, Secretary and Treasurer, but can be run by Committee. The selection of League officers or Committee members, when needed, is usually made at a general league meeting held in the fall. At this general meeting other League business (season awards, rules changes, etc.) will also be conducted.
    2. When run by a group of officers, the officer’s duties are:
      President – Fearless leader, meeting conductor, award selector and spring & fall tournament organizer.
      Secretary – Season scheduler, rules writer, score keeper, and calculator of handicaps.
      Treasurer – Dues keeper, tournament financier, profit/loss calculator and accounts overseer.
    3. The League officers or committee members are empowered to act on behalf of the PUGL in League-related business. The officers or Committee also will make all final decisions concerning League matters of scoring, handicapping and rules interpretation.

    1. The playoffs are elimination type and will contain a maximum of eight (8) teams in each playoff flight. Playoffs will start on the Tuesday immediately following the last week of League play (although matches may be played earlier if agreed to by all members of the match).
    2. No substitutions are permitted during the playoffs.
    3. There are only three matches (max) so try to make your original match, reschedule, or play two on one if you have to.  In order to ensure playoff matches complete within the season, first round matches need to be played by the end of the first week of playoffs as posted on the League website.  Semi and final matches need to be played within two weeks of the dates posted on the League website.
    4. If there is a tie at the end of the regular season a tie-breaker will determine the seeding of each team. The below process will be followed for any of the teams making the playoffs and for teams that are vying for the last playoff slot. The tie-breakers will be determined in the following order:
      1. Regular Season Head to Head Play – The total points of all matches played between the teams will be compared. The team with the most points receives the lower (i.e. better) seed. If the teams had the same amount of points after adding all the matches up, then the second tie-breaker is used.
      2. Strength of Play – the team with the more consistent record will be seeded lower. To determine the strength of play, the entire season will be reviewed and the following points will be assigned for each match: +1 point for each win, 0 for each tie or forfeit received and -1 point for each loss or forfeit given. The team with the highest total will be seeded lower.
      3. Flip of a Coin – If no winner is determined after the first two tie-breakers, a coin will be flipped to determine the lower seed. Given the limited timing between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs, League officials will conduct the coin toss and at least two officials need to be present for the coin toss to take place. If two officials are not available, any member of the Rules Committee can stand-in.

    1. Although the league president or committee has the option to modify the awards format for appropriate reasons (financial constraints, tournament format, etc.) ties may be broken by first to achieve award in the season, the following awards will be presented:
      1. At the end of regular season:
        1. Regular season champion, team (A-Section). This award is given to the team with the highest point average in the regular season.
        2. Regular season champion, team (B-Section). This award is given to the team with the highest point average in the regular season.
        3. Highest average points per match, individual (A-Section). This award is given to the individual with the highest average points per round, with a minimum of 12 regular season rounds played.
        4. Highest average points per match, individual (B-Section). This award is given to the individual with the highest average points per round, with a minimum of 12 regular season rounds played.
        5. Low average (League). This award is given to the golfer with the lowest average score, with a minimum of 12 regular season rounds played.
        6. Low gross (A Flight) relative to par.
        7. Low gross (B Flight) relative to par.
        8. Low net (A Flight) relative to par.
        9. Low net (B Flight) relative to par.
      2. Playoffs:
        1. A Flight winner.
        2. B Flight winner.
      3. Spring and Fall Tournaments.
        1. Low gross (team).
        2. Longest drive
        3. Closest to the pin(s).

    1. In order to provide a better balance among the various flights, protocols have been put in place to balance both the skill level (handicap) and number of teams in each flight. Each year, the League will set the new thresholds and cut-offs to determine which players/teams qualify for each of the flights. Teams are welcomed, actually encouraged, to stay together, but if one member pushes the team above the cut-off point, the whole team would move to that flight. To offer the most flexibility to individuals/ teams while safeguarding the League’s interests, there will be a range of handicaps in which members will have an option to choose which flight they would like to play in. As with all good things, there is a limit and the League reserves the right to move teams to provide a better balance and playing experience.
    2. Below is a list of all the cut-off levels/balancing factors that will determine which individuals/teams place into which flight. The levels and numbers used are based off the 2017 season (in which there were two flights – A and B Flight), but each year the levels will be reset.
      1. Individual Cut-off: An individual handicap cut-off is established for the various flights. Based on the 2017 season, the cut-off for each flight is 13.  Anyone with a handicap 13 and above is in the B Flight.
      2. Team Cut-off: There will be a combined Team handicap cut-off. Based on the 2017 season, the team cut-off (the combined handicap of both players) is 20. Any team handicap above 20 will play in the B Flight.
    3. Handicaps with a choice: There is a range of handicaps that will have a choice of which flight they would like to play in. Based off the 2017 season, any team with a combined handicap of 19 and 20 will have a choice of which flight they want to play in.  The individual cut-off still applies (i.e. if you have a team handicap of 19 but one member has a handicap of 13, they will be scheduled in the B Flight.)
      1. League Override: In order to provide the best balance possible, the League reserves the right to move teams between the flights in order to balance the number of teams within each flight. The goal of the League is to move as few as teams as possible to reach that balance. The two reasons to balance the flights are:
        1. A disparate number of teams in each flight. Once the number of teams between flights differs by more than 3, the League will assess the need to move one or more teams until it is within balance. Some years that may mean moving some team(s) from the B Flight to the A Flight and in other years it may mean moving some team(s) from the A Flight to the B Flight. The team(s) moved will be the ones right above or below the cutline (i.e. the teams with the handicap closest to the flight they are moving into).
        2. An odd number of teams in each flight. There may be the need to move a team to get an even number of teams in each flight. If there is an odd number of teams in both flights, that means one team in each flight will have a bye each week – not desirable for anyone. If there is an odd number in just one of the flights, a team will not be moved for this purpose.

(Note – the handicaps noted in this policy are based on 9-holes)