Rules Seminars & Exams – Spring 2019

Level 1 – NSGA Seminars

Over the spring, the NSGA will be traveling to member clubs and presenting on Rules of Golf. Presentations will review the old rules, and go over the new changes for 2019. Focusing on how the player understands and implements the rules. Level 1 seminars are open to ANY Golf Canada member to attend (unless otherwise specified). Please see below for the scheduled club seminars, and RSVP with the host club if you’d like to attend. To host a Level 1 Rules Seminar, please contact: anne@nsga.ns.ca or 902-468-8844 ext. 2


Level 1 – Online Certification

Level 1 provides an interesting and easy way to learn the basics of the Rules of Golf. This level will focus on Etiquette, the principle definitions and commonly encountered situations on the course. As part of the Level 1 program, students will be able to test their knowledge by taking the review questions at the end of each section before attempting the online Level 1 Exam.

Register Here

Note: When you register to participate in The R&A’s Rules Academy via rulesacademy.randa.org, they will be sharing your contact details and other relevant information, including exam results, with Golf Canada. We may use your contact details to contact you about rules schools, golf education, volunteering opportunities and golf events. We will be using this information to promote and develop the sport of golf in Canada. For more information about how we may use and protect your personal information, please see our privacy policy by clicking here.


Level 2 – Provincial Certification

Level 2 (provincial certification) seminars will be conducted by provincial golf associations, and the curriculum will begin to look at the more important playing Rules in detail. Some of the complexities that are found in the Decisions book are introduced along while also implementing on-course demonstrations. Level 2 (Provincial) will be designed for individuals with an involvement in tournament administration, or a desire to have such an involvement.


Level 3 – National Certification

Golf Canada’s seminars on the 2019 Rules of Golf are intended for experienced referees. The fall 2018, and spring 2019 seminars will focus mainly on the changes to the Rules of 2019. With less time spent on officiating.

The two series of workshops will have different exams. This will allow anyone taking the exam in the fall of 2018 to also take the exam given in the spring of 2019, should there be a desire to do so.


As the governing body of golf in Canada, Golf Canada holds the exclusive right to publish and distribute the Rules of Golf in Canada.

The Rules are updated every four years through the work of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Scotland and the United States Golf Association. A joint committee of these associations, on which the Rules Chairman of Golf Canada sits, is charged with revising, modernizing and improving the Rules of Golf and the Decisions on the Rules of Golf. These two documents form the complete Rules of Golf that are used universally throughout the world of golf. Golf Canada has the exclusive right to publish and distribute the Rules of Golf throughout Canada. All Rights Reserved.

In addition to publishing the Rules, Golf Canada has created a national Rules Education Program that leads to national certification as a Rules Official. The program description is contained on the Rules Education section of this website.

For clubs or committees in charge of competitions, the Conditions of Competition and Standard Local Rules Golf Canada implements at all championships is posted for your reference. In addition, a list of local rules that should be considered is available on this website. All you need to know about the Rules of Golf is available by clicking here.


Ask a Rules Expert

To ask a rules question, please email us at smrules@golfcanada.ca.

If you have a rules question regarding a competition currently taking place (the competition has not closed), then you may wish to use the Competition Hotline. To contact Golf Canada for a ruling during a competition please call Adam Helmer, Director of Rules and Competitions at 416-450-6374.

If your call is not answered immediately, please leave a detailed message including your name, title (Rules Chair, Professional, etc.) phone number where you can be contacted and a description of the incident requiring a ruling. Your call will be returned as soon as possible.


Rules Education Pathway

Are you interested in learning about the Rules of Golf? Golf Canada offers several programs to learn the Rules of Golf. The Golf Canada Education Program is designed for all golfers wishing to improve their level of knowledge of the Rules of Golf including recreational golfers, competitive golfers, professionals and rules officials, or those wishing to become a rules official. Whether you have an interest in learning the basics or wish to pursue national certification as a rules official, Golf Canada offers the right program for you.


Related Links

Rules of Golf – PDF
Decisions on the Rules of Golf – PDF
Easy Guide to the Rules of Golf – PDF
Purchase Rules Publications




Golf Canada is the authoritative body for the purposes of establishing and maintaining a uniform handicap system for golf clubs in Canada in co-operation with the provincial golf associations.

The purpose of the Golf Canada Handicap System is to make the game of golf more enjoyable for golfers by providing a means of measuring one’s performance and progress and to enable golfers of differing abilities to compete on an equitable basis.

Through this system, each golfer establishes an “Golf Canada Handicap Factor” which is a numerical measurement of a player’s potential (not actual) scoring ability on a course of standard difficulty.

The Handicap Factor is calculated using the best 10 of the player’s last 20 rounds and updated with each new round played. The Handicap Factor travels with the golfer from course to course and is adjusted up or down depending on the length and difficulty of the course played, resulting in a “Course Handicap”. The Course Handicap is the number of strokes a golfer receives from a specific set of tees at the course played and represents the number of strokes he would require to play equitably against a “scratch” golfer (a golfer with a Handicap Factor of “0.0′). The more difficult the golf course, the more strokes the golfer receives and vice versa.

The relative difficulty of a golf course is determined jointly by Golf Canada and the provincial golf association using the Golf Canada Course and Slope Rating System. Specially trained Course Rating Teams evaluate the difficulty of a golf course based on such variables as length and a number of obstacle factors (e.g. topography, bunkers, water hazards, severity of rough, etc).

Only Golf Canada member golf clubs are permitted to use the Golf Canada Handicap System and Golf Canada Course Rating System and related trademarks and service marks and must do so in a manner that preserves the integrity and reliability of these systems. All rights to use these systems and related trademarks and service marks terminate should the golf club cease to be a member in good standing with Golf Canada.

Golf Canada Handicap System Seminars

The Member Club Handicap License Agreement stipulates that every NSGA / Golf Canada Member Club must have a representative attend a handicap seminar and complete the certification exam.

We host several Handicap System Certification Seminars each season in order to educate and help clubs and individuals achieve certification and compliance. These Seminars are a more in-depth look into Handicapping and Course Rating and will give attendees a thorough knowledge of the Golf Canada Handicap and Course Rating systems. The Handicap Seminars are beneficial for club members, Handicap Committee members, Golf Professionals, Superintendents, General Managers, and others interested in learning more about Handicapping in general.

These seminars are typically scheduled in the evenings and include a copy of the Golf Canada Handicap Manual and other relevant Handicap materials. Attendees who participate in the Seminars take a short exam to become Golf Canada Handicap System Certified. Upon successful completion of the Seminar and exam, a certificate of completion is sent to the newly certified Official.

Golf Canada offers Online Handicap Seminars available to complete at any time. The seminar will take approximately four hours, but you are able to bookmark your place and come back to it at your own convenience.

Online Handicap Seminar


Golf Canada Handicap Manual
Handicapping – All You Need To Know
USGA Handicapping
Before You Post – Poster
Duties and Responsibilities
Frequently Used Sections In Brief



The purpose of the Golf Canada Course Rating System is to measure and rate the relative difficulty of golf courses across Canada so that a player’s Handicap Factor is accurate and transportable from golf course to golf course. The Course Rating System takes into account factors that affect the playing difficulty of a golf course including yardage, effective playing length and number of obstacle factors such as topography, elevation, doglegs, prevailing wind, bunkering, etc.

After a thorough study of the Course and Slope Rating System developed by the United States Golf Association (USGA), Golf Canada approved and adopted the system for Canada in January 1995.

The Golf Canada Course Rating System consists of two basic elements:

Golf Canada Course Rating – the evaluation of the playing difficulty of a course for scratch golfers under normal course and weather conditions expressed as number of strokes (e.g. 72.5).

Golf Canada Slope Rating – the evaluation of the relative difficulty of a course for players who are not scratch golfers compared to the difficulty of the course for scratch golfers. The lowest Slope Rating is 55 and the highest 155. A course of standard playing difficulty will have a Slope Rating of 113.

Every member golf course should have an Golf Canada Course Rating and Slope Rating for each set of tees at the course. These ratings are used in the calculation of the Golf Canada Handicap Factor and for determining a player’s Course Handicap for a given round. Accuracy and consistency are the keys to effective course rating. Alberta Golf rates golf courses in accordance with the system and this ensures that Course Ratings are accurate and uniform from coast to coast. Only an Alberta Golf team of course raters may rate golf courses.




The Spirit of the Game

Unlike many sports, golf is played, for the most part, without the supervision of a referee or umpire. The game relies on the integrity of the individual to show consideration for other players and to abide by the Rules. All players should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, irrespective of how competitive they may be. This is the spirit of the game of golf.


Players should ensure no one is standing close by or in a position to be hit by the club, the ball or any stones, pebbles, twigs or the like when they make a stroke or practice swing. Players should not play until the players in front are out of range. Players should always alert greenstaff nearby or ahead when they are about to make a stroke that might endanger them. If a player plays a ball in a direction where there is a danger of hitting someone, he should immediately shout a warning. The traditional word of warning in such a situation is “fore.”

Consideration for Other Players

No disturbance or distraction. Players should always show consideration for other players on the course and should not disturb their play by moving, talking or making any unnecessary noise. Players should ensure any electronic device taken onto the course do not distract other players. On the teeing ground, a player should not tee his ball until it is his turn to play. Players should not stand close to or directly behind the ball, or directly behind the hole, when a player is about to play.

On the putting green, players should not stand on another player’s line of putt or when he is making a stroke, cast a shadow over his line of putt. Players should remain on or close to the putting green until all other players in the group have holed out.

In stroke play, a player who is acting as a marker should, if necessary, on the way to the next tee, check the score with the player concerned and record it.

Pace of Play

Players should play at a good pace. The Committee may establish pace of play guidelines that all players should follow. It is a group’s responsibility to keep up with the group in front. If it loses a clear hole and it is delaying the group behind, it should invite the group behind to play through, irrespective of the number of players in that group.

Players should be ready to play as soon as it is their turn to play. When playing on or near the putting green, they should leave their bags or carts in such a position as will enable quick movement off the green and towards the next tee. When the play of a hole has been completed, players should immediately leave the putting green.

If a player believes his ball may be lost outside a water hazard or is out of bounds, to save time, he should play a provisional ball. Players searching for a ball should signal the players in the group behind them to play through as soon as it becomes apparent that the ball will not easily be found. They should not search for five minutes before doing so. Having allowed the group behind to play through, they should not continue play until that group has passed and is out of range.

The pace of play resource centre that the USGA had made available is a good start for those interested in finding out more about little things every golfer or industry stakeholder can do to improve overall pace of play. You can find links to many of those pace of play resources below.

Pace of Play Resources

Tips and Suggestions
Tee It Forward
USGA Pace of Play Resource Centre
The R&A Pace of Play Resource Centre

Care of the Course

Bunkers Before leaving a bunker, players should carefully fill up and smooth over all holes and footprints made by them and any nearby made by others. If a rake is within reasonable proximity of the bunker, the rake should be used for this purpose. View Bunker Etiquette Animation

Repair of Divots, Ball-Marks and Damage by Shoes Players should carefully repair any divot holes made by them and any damage to the putting green made by the impact of a ball (whether or not made by the player himself). On completion of the hole by all players in the group, damage to the putting green caused by golf shoes should be repaired.

Preventing Unnecessary Damage Players should avoid causing damage to the course by removing divots when taking practice swings or by hitting the head of a club into the ground, whether in anger or for any other reason. Players should ensure that no damage is done to the putting green when putting down bags or the flagstick. In order to avoid damaging the hole, players and caddies should not stand too close to the hole and should take care during the handling of the flagstick and the removal of a ball from the hole. The head of a club should not be used to remove a ball from the hole. Players should not lean on their clubs when on the putting green, particularly when removing the ball from the hole. The flagstick should be properly replaced in the hole before players leave the putting green. Local notices regulating the movement of golf carts should be strictly observed.

Conclusion; Penalties for Breach

If players follow the guidelines in this Section, it will make the game more enjoyable for everyone. If a player consistently disregards these guidelines during a round or over a period of time to the detriment of others, it is recommended that the Committee consider taking appropriate disciplinary action against the offending player. Such action may, for example, include prohibiting play for a limited time on the course or in a certain number of competitions. This is considered to be justifiable in terms of protecting the interest of the majority of golfers who wish to play in accordance with these guidelines. In the case of a serious breach of Etiquette, the Committee may disqualify a player under Rule 33-7.