Knuth Tournament Point System Explanation

In January 1992, Section 10-3 of the USGA Handicap System manual, “Reduction of USGA Handicap Index Based on Exceptional Tournament Scores, was put into effect. Section 10-3 is designed to reduce the Handicap Index of a player who scores much better in tournaments than in casual play.

In reviewing net tournament results and addressing concerns from our member clubs, the indication is that Section 10-3 may not be doing enough to ensure that all competitors are competing on an equal basis. If we assume that all golfers are abiding by the score posting guidelines established by the USGA Handicap System, then each competitor should have the same chance as the next to win in tournaments. For example, if you played in 100 tournaments of 100 players, each of you should win but once.

While it is true that some competitors do play better in competition than they do in everyday casual play, it is the opinion of many that most competitors seem to not score as well in competition as they do in their casual rounds. Some competitors finish near the top quite often, yet they never seem to play well enough to have their handicap reduced under Section 10-3.

The Knuth Tournament Point System is based upon awarding points to NET finishers in your club's competitions that are important enough to be designated as "tournament scores"(*) (see Section 2, USGA Handicap System Manual). Players or teams that finish in the top 5 places NET in the tournament will be awarded the appropriate number of points as listed on the table below. This is the top 5 in the entire field, not the top 5 in each flight. It may also include a person or team that collects a gross division prize.

*USGA Definition of a Tournament Score is a score made in a competition organized and conducted by a committee in charge of the competition. The competition must identify a winner(s) based on a stipulated round(s), and must be played under the principles of the Rules of Golf. Using the above definition as a guideline, the committee in charge of the competition shall determine in advance if these conditions are met, and announce in advance whether the score shall be identified by the letter “T” when posted. Routine events, such as regular play days, typically are not to be designated as T-scores because they are not significant in the traditions, schedules, formats, and membership of the club. Examples of inter-club competition scores that should be posted as tournament scores when they meet the above conditions are team matches, competitions restricted by age, member-guest competitions, qualifying rounds for city, state and national competitions, and competitions conducted by golf associations. Examples of intra-club competition scores that should be posted as tournament scores when they meet the above conditions are low gross-low net competitions, four-ball match- or stroke-play competitions, Stableford competitions, and club championships which are stroke or match play, scratch or with handicap.


1st Place    5 Points

2nd Place    4 Points

3rd Place    3 Points

4th Place    2 Points

5th Place    1 Point

If a player accumulates 7 points over two years, his/her handicap for a tournament held at your club may be reduced by two shots. Each two additional points earned by the player in this two-year period would result in an extra stroke being subtracted from their handicap for the tournaments. Note that the USGA Handicap Index is not reduced, only the handicap that is assigned to the player for that event.

A sample situation is a golfer that placed 1st net in a club event last summer. He/she was awarded 5 points for that event. In September, the same golfer wins third place net, and is awarded 3 additional points. The golfer has just turned in an entry for an event in August of this year. The Committee can reduce this golfer's course handicap by 2 strokes since the golfer has accumulated a total of 8 points.

In the case of a tie for one of the first 5 places, each of the individuals or teams would earn the full number of points for that placing. For example: Two individuals tie for 2nd place. Each individual would earn 4 points under this system. You would not give out 3rd place points (or add 2nd & 3rd place points together and divide by 2} under this scenario. The next finisher in line after the two individuals that tied would earn 2 points for the 4th place. No fractions of points are awarded.

The Committee may also collect results from outside events and use points earned in these events to further adjust the competitor's handicaps.

This is a fair system for helping to give everyone a chance to win.

The following events will use the Knuth Tournament Points System:

  • Spring Opening
  • Board of Governors
  • Tavistock Cup
  • Member/Member
  • All Stag Days
  • Iron Masters
  • Harrison Todd
  • Presidents Cup