Answers to Rules Questions from Our Coaches

Revised: April 20, 2013

    1. Tips for the Season Matches


Question #1:   Why can't I just have my #3 & 4 players go off against their #1 and 2 players, and later have my #1 and #2 can go off against their #7 & #8? Doesn’t it all work out the same? We will probably lose more of our upper matches, but we should be able to sweep the other team's # 7 & #8.

Answer:   You CAN NOT do this, because the ladder DOES NOT change. The 1 & 2 players never play the 3&4 players under this scenario where players are expected to arrive late. If you should do this, once your number 3 & 4 players tee off against the other team's 1 & 2, then your 1 & 2 players become ineligible to compete in the scoring matches (but they could play in non-scoring spots).

2   Why are “ties” not allowed?

                               Some divisions have more teams in them than others. Some play six division matches, others play seven. A few years ago, we had an issue over how to seed division-winning teams in the playoffs. One team had finished 6-0, the other 6-0-1 tie. Who had the better record? You could argue this many different ways (more games equals tougher schedule, and vice versa; ties mean half a win, half a loss; each won the same number of games, so use average points to break the tie; etc.). But apply those same arguments to records of 5-0-1 versus 5-0-2, or 5-1 and 5-0-2, and you still have different outcomes?
          To eliminate chaos, the Competition Committee decided it was best to eliminate ties altogether (except for the Championship match), by first counting the team’s total best-ball points to break the tie, and then if still tied, using the first group’s best-ball points, then the second group’s, and so on, until the tie is first broken.

Why are the best-ball points used to break a tied match?

              Simply, because this is a “team” sport. Use of “best-ball” points best reflects how the team has done, as opposed as to how any specific individual has performed. No pressure or onus is placed on any one player to win, or lose, a match for his/her team, and hence, no stigma attaches to any one junior on the team that loses.
        And, having some form of sudden-death playoff match was deemed impractical (for many reasons, including the lateness of the match; top players leaving before the last group gets in; deciding who/how many compete in the sudden-death; , etc.) and unwise (as that would put the pressure back on individuals, and not teams.)


Question #3:   What should I do with my lineup if one of my top-eight players (for instance, my #2 player) fails to show up for the match?

Answer:    A "no show" is a player that has failed to make it known, in advance of his tee time, that he will be late. When a player fails to show up, that player gets scratched, and the next guy/gal moves up a position. The team ladder (rankings) MUST remain intact. No stacking. In this example, the #3 players moves up to the # 2 spot in place of the "no show" player. The #4 moves up to #3 position, and so forth. In this way, the ladder remains intact.


Question #4:  But what if that player calls me on my cell phone and says he's lost, and will be 20 minutes late?

Answer     :  In this case, the player has given advance notice (prior to his tee time) that he will be late. Since you know this player will arrive eventually, there are 2 options available, at the discretion of the Home coach.

                        Option 1:       The Home coach can send the teams off in the correct order (#1 & #2 vs. # 1 & #2; #3 & #4 vs. #3 & #4, etc.), as if all players are present. That means that the first scoring team goes off without one of its opponents. They continue to play each hole until all points are decided. If the late player arrives before the match is decided (usually by the 15th hole), he can join the match in progress and play the remaining holes.

                         Option 2:        The Home coach has discretion to delay that match and send the next match out, while waiting for the player to show up. In other words, since the #2 will be 20 minutes late, the home coach can send out the #3&4 vs. #3&4 match first, and if necessary, then the #5&6 vs. #5&6 match, before sending out the #1&2 match. This has to be the Home coach's call, because he has to deal with the membership as to why the first tee is being tied up.


Question #5: As an additional option, if a team's #2 (as an example) fails to show, can that team forfeit that player's match? A team might want to do this when they believe the lower pairings work in their favor, by losing 3 points at the start, but making it back on the lower part of the order.

Answer:    NO! If a player fails to show up, he gets scratched (he is no longer able to compete for points in that match - although he is allowed to play the course in a non-scoring position), and the next guys/gals all move up a notch on the ladder.


Question 6 :       I have a question regarding eligibility for playoff matches. Does either practice matches or 1st round/2nd round of playoffs count as one of the three matches a player must play in order to be eligible for post-season play?

Answer:           The three matches can either be league or practice and includes scoring and non scoring players. A minimum of three matches need to be played before eligibility is optained for the playoffs. The bylaws (Rule 3 Eligibility 2.e.3.) try to cover this. The playoff matches don't count towards this three match requirement since players are already deemed ineligible to play. Could a junior play in the non-scoring field of a playoff match and earn one of the three matches needed for a possible future playoff match? No, this would not gain eligibility for a possible second playoff match. The intent of the bylaw was to keep players out of the playoffs that had not previously played three matches during the reagular season compitition. Exceptions may be granted on a case by case basis, if a special cercumstance exists, such as: 1) Forfieted matches during season by another team, which gave players less chances to get three matches in. 2) Injury to the player during the season. 3) How many matches did the player play in last year? 4) Is player an offspring of proprietary member? 5) Is the player among your best 3-4 players?.


Question #7:  I needed to play more than four"non-member" kids on the scoring team in order to fill the eight scoring positions. Is this a problem?

Answer:    Yes, it is a problem. The League voted in 2006 to limit the scoring team to a maximum of four "other" [non-member] players. The membership also voted to give the League the discretion to allow exemptions to any club unable to attract a sufficient number of "member" kids. However, the exemption must be granted BEFORE the match, not at the match.

So, if more than 4 "non-members" are on the scoring team, those non-member scores in excess of 4 are NOT counted in either the individual match or team best ball. It is, in effect, a forfeit of that player's match and of those points. [This rule should be encouragement to teams to use member kids, even if they shoot in the high 100's - - - as you never know when they might get lucky and ace or birdie a par three and help the team's best ball score].


Question #8:  As a coach, don't I have the discretion to allow my opposition to play more than five non-members to compete on the scoring team against my team? This is just for fun, anyway. And, my team is not going to make the play-offs anyway.

Answer:    No. You can't agree to waive the rules. Let's make it fun by sticking with the rules. Our rules are designed to make the competition both fun and fair. If the rule make no sense, then request the Competition Committee to change the rule. But in this case, more is at stake than just your match. The "points-per-match" averages are used to determine playoff positions, home fields, and to break ties. If everyone plays by the same rules, then the process for making it into the play-offs remains fair and credible.


Question #9:  Am I limited in the number of players I can have on my team?

Answer :   No. Team size is not an issue. What may be an issue is: (1) whether you have a large enough team to weather (a) vacations, (b) school schedules, (c) AJGA, USGA, NCGA schedule conflicts, and (d) all the other fun things available for kids to do on Saturdays in the Bay Area, or: (2) you have too large a team so that when you reach the play-offs, you have trouble complying with the rule requiring each scoring player to have competed in at least three matches during the season. You need to strike a balance that you feel comfortable with and that you can handle as a coach.


Question #10:  Can I use players who competed for some other team last year?

Answer:     Yes. We encourage play, not restrictions. Last year we had some clubs drop from the League. The players on those clubs deserve a place to play. If you can, and if your club permits, try to find a spot on your team for some of those players. We have the best junior league in the country, so let the kids play, if you can. Remember, however, that once a player competes on one team, he cannot play for another team in the same season. If you have space on your team for a few more players, contact the pro shops at non-participating Clubs to see if they know of any juniors looking to play.


Question #11:  Neither of us coaches could remember what the rules were regarding line-ups and elegibility, so we agreed to work out the scoring issues sometime after the match. Is that OK?

Answer:    All issues regarding the make-up of the scoring teams, rankings (ladder), and eligibility should be decided before the first group goes off the first tee. Never, never agree to work it out later, when the matches are over. It is demoralizing for the kids to later find out they actually "lost," when earlier they played their heart out and thought they had really won. In other words, coaches, do your job beforehand so the kids can go out and do theirs and have fun without worrying about the administrative issues that we deal with. NEVER EVER argue or make a scene with your opposing coach, especially in front of any of the junior players. If you have a disagreement, try to disagree in a gentlemanly manner. Get a ruling from the Head Professional, or if it's a Bay Cities rule, call and get a ruling from one of the Committeepersons listed below. But you set the example that your kids will follow. Make it a good one. 10 years from now, no one will remember the outcome of your match, but they will remember how you reacted to and handled a conflict situation.


Question #12:  My number 3 player and their number 7 player are best friends and have waited all their lives to get the chance to play each other, head to head, el nino v. el nino. I talked with the other coach, and she is agreeable to changing their ladder so they can play each other. Is that OK?

Answer :   NO, NO, NO. You must protect the integrity of the ladder. If they want to play each other, then invite them back on Sunday and let them go at it. Who knows, they might make new life-long friendships with their "real" pairings.


Question 13: What kind of behavior warrants a loss of hole or loss of match penalty?

Answer:   You have asked for guidelines. What follows are my own views, not necessarily shared by the competition committee, but which I believe are compatible with the League's philosophy.

     This decision is left for each coach to handle on an "as needed" basis. The League is not in a position to police "behavior" in non-playoff matches, but relies upon the sportsmanship and common-sense of its coaches and players to maintain the proper amount of dignity and decorum during the game. As coach, there is a fine line between being "officious" versus rightfully "concerned," and each coach needs to be in tune with their own team's, and Home Club's, situation. Obviously, winning is more fun than losing, but it should always be the players who decide the outcome, and not the coaches. Wally Goodwin, (Stanford coach, retired) reminded us that he never had to play a shot, swing a club, or make a putt during all of the years he coached. He simply let the players play, while he administered (working feverishly) behind the scenes so they could.
     As a guideline, the Host Coach has an obligation to make clear to all the players, before the match starts, what the local rules and conditions of play will be. While this usually means going over the local rules for play, course conditions, etc., there is no reason the Host coach should not remind the players of the general rules of good, proper etiquette and conduct, and what may happen if there is a breach of those rules. The coaching guideline, here, is that these are still juniors who are not always going to behave as adults, or as expected by adult standards. Our League understands that, and tries to help kids through these difficulties without making our golf league just another authority figure controlling them. In that respect, giving them clear boundaries and expectations, as well as guidance, is going to be more important in their development than punishment will be, in the absence of such guidance.
     In the present case, on the first tee with all players present, coaches might want to review the discipline rules contained in the League's bylaws, those expected by the Host Club, the NCGA/USGA, and advise their junior golfers that a progressive discipline approach will be utilized; i.e., first a warning, then loss of the hole, then loss of match, or loss of side. My experience is that once the players know what the rules are, and what is expected, they will follow them.
     While a breach of a "rule of golf" has definite and immediate consequences in a match, and is called by a player on himself, a breach of "etiquette" is a more difficult issue to deal with. It often reflects on the personality of the recipient of the discourtesy as much as it does on the issuer. What is considered as acceptable levels of "outbursts" seems to be changing, a la Tiger Woods uttering profanities on TV after a bad shot before millions of hero-worshippers, without any [immediate] sanctions. After attending several matches this year with different clubs around the League, profanity, coming as outbursts, has been heard from players on all of those teams. It is not what I want, nor what the League condones, it is just simply a fact that it is a common, albeit distasteful, occurrence, not confined to any one junior golfer or any one junior golf team. Each coach needs to handle his/her team in a manner that promotes good behavior, and discourages poor. This is never going to be an easy, or simple, task, as each kid is unique and will respond differently than will others. The League's concern is that appropriate action be taken by the player's team coach, and/or home club, before it becomes an issue that requires League intervention. It is in this fashion that "non-match," or internal, discipline becomes important in modifying poor behavior patterns in the future. Sometimes a player must be told he is not playing in the next match. I know that many League coaches have utilized this approach very successfully in the past, even where it meant that they did not field their strongest team at their next match as a result of such discipline.
     It is extremely important that any discipline that might effect the outcome of a match be administered immediately and concurrently with the breach. It is unacceptable, in most cases, to later impose a penalty upon a match for a breach that should have been handled immediately at the time it occurred. To delay would be akin to an umpire ruling, after the game, that a player should have been thrown out of the game before he hit the game winning home run.
     The opposing coach should be consulted and informed at the same time so that there is agreement in the proposed discipline. This is why the coaches play together, and usually go out in the middle of the scoring teams - so they can be available and can witness their players actions. If you and the other coach cannot agree on what should be done, then proceed on with match, noting where the problem occurred, and the penalty proposed, and bring the issue to the attention of the League's Competition Committee afterwards.
     A continuing pattern of inappropriate conduct should be handled by that player's coach. If the League becomes aware of a continuing problem with a player, or even with a coach, the Competition Committee can always request that the player be excluded from the team's roster, or that the coach be suspended, or the team not be re-invited back into the League the following year. That has never happened, to my knowledge.


Question 14: Does the league allow for adding players during the season, after the June 1 team rosters have been submitted to the League? If a team wants to play a "non-roster" player, how should this have been handled? Would a match be legal with a non-roster player competing? The League's bylaws are not that specific and I would like to know what is correct and consistent with what other teams would have done.

Answer:: The issue of a player playing for a team when he was not listed on their June 1 roster does not appear to be a League "discipline" matter. The rule requiring a June 1 roster submission has no provision for sanctions to be imposed for non-compliance, much less where there has been initial compliance, but with additional names supplied afterwards. The June 1st roster requirement in the bylaws appears to be directed to "non-member" kids, only. So for "member" kids, a late add should be no problem. If the team is not playoff bound, then building for next year is a proper motive for adding member players, and perhaps even non-members. If you have had difficulty getting even eight kids to show up for matches, that would be another good reason to add players late (if you have been playing with less than eight players, you probably are out of the playoffs, almost by definition). But let's say you are going to be in the playoffs, and have had a full team show up each week. Adding a player late means that they will not be eligible for post season championship play. So why do it? The kids that have worked so hard and shown up for all the practices and matches, have paid their dues, and they deserve the opportunity to continue to play in the scoring eight, or move up into the eight, at least over someone showing up late in the season. Perhaps you need a good player to be added in order to be sure you make the playoffs? If that is the case, maybe you, the coach, need to look hard at what this means, and whether that is the message you are comfortable conveying to your team (i.e., that they aren't good enough to win on their own, or that winning is everything). Will that player's absence from lineup during the finals mean you won't advance in the playoffs? Bottom line, you as the coach have to decide what is important for you and your team.

        In 2002, only 10 teams submitted their rosters to the League by June 1. For 2003, every team met the deadline. 2008 was almost as good. When a team adds a player during the season, there may be good reason to do so. If it is a member's kid, that suffices. If a team has trouble filling the 8 scoring spots, that is probably a good reason. Is the team doing so just to try "stacking" the line up with newly added player(s). Is the team simply trying to live up to the League's spirit and philosophy, which is to permit juniors to play, not to exclude them. In fact, for 2002 and 2003, other teams were encouraged to bring in players from the defunct teams of non-participating Clubs. These additions, for the most part, came after the roster submission date.
        As noted above, "eligibility" issues should be resolved [well] before the match, primarily by the coaches communicating with one another in advance of the Saturday match, as is required by the bylaws. (That is why at the Spring Tournament, coaches were paired with the coaches from the team they were to play for their first practice match - - - to open lines of communication). Eligibility should never be the subject of dispute in front of the kids, who should remain completely unaware of these administrative issues.
      Once the match starts, eligibility (with rare exception) is waived or acquiesced to. The "new" player should be placed in the "ladder" according to his scoring potential. Such additions to the roster would not invalidate a regular season match. True, however, that such additions may be excludable from the post-season and Championship matches if they have not "participated" in at least three matches during the season. This rule is designed to prevent coaches from recruiting new, scratch, players for a "guaranteed" win during the championship season.

      So if you have eligibility issues, get them resolved before the match, preferably before the day of the match.

16. Some More Tips for the Season Matches

  1. Don't play or list on your rosters any high school golfers until their school matches/post-season are over. (they could lose their HS eligibility).
  2. Keep a record of all scores of each of your players, even when they are not on the scoring team (as they must be present in at least 3 matches to compete in the post-season playoffs).
  3. Be sure to submit your score sheet to the League. (Use file naming protocol: Team Score v. Team Score on Date)
  4. Be sure you have your golf course and tee times reserved and you use the same tees throughout the season..
  5. Confirm with the other coach that s/he has a team ready to play and will show up (too many times matches get canceled at the last minute because kids don't commit).
  6. Keep your team's ladder (player ranking) current and share it with the opposing team coach.


REMEMBER:         You should print out a hard copy [from our website:] of the rules and bylaws and have them with you for each match. The rules require coaches to make contact with their opposing coach during the week before the match to discuss and decide any issues, local rules, or procedures that might present themselves. You should keep with you the names and phone numbers (cell phones) of the competition committee and the League President. If a questions can't be resolved by reference to the rules,or by the Head Professional, then call someone on the committee and get a ruling on the spot.


  2013 Competition Committee Teams: The Coaches from these 4 teams make up the committee

Roundhill, Olympic, Meadow Club, Saratoga. The VP, Mike Miller of Olympic Club heads the committee.

Jeff Maxiopolis of Castlewood- League President -