Eclectic Tournaments – Selecting the Best

Any golfer who is serious enough to belong to a golf club, has a handicap and plays in tournaments or guest days has probably played in a tournament called an “eclectic”. Few golfers understand what this means for purposes of posting.

First, what does eclectic mean? It is not defined in the Rules of Golf nor does the word actually appear in the USGA Handicap System Manual. The definition found in the Webster-Merriam Dictionary defines “eclectic” as “selecting what appears to be best in various doctrines, methods and styles.” In golf, the term “eclectic means just that, ‘selecting what appears to be the best’ hole scores over two days of play over the same course. Many avid golfers better understand the format in the context of either the ringer board – where individual players record their best hole scores made on a particular course over a period of time (a quarter or a year, for example) or as a format described in the Rules as Four Ball Stroke Play or Match Play but commonly referred to as ‘better ball of partners’ or ‘best ball of partners’ where only the score of one partner counts. In an eclectic format, you are your own partner and you are scoring your best score on each hole over two days. The same holds true whether it is an individual eclectic or a partner eclectic. For the tournament, low score wins the prize!

Somehow, many golfers believe that because you cannot better your score the second day and pick up your ball that only the first day counts for posting. The principles of the USGA Handicapping System should logically lead to the conclusion that BOTH rounds must be posted! Under the USGA Handicap System Manual the following are true statements:

1. If you skip a hole, you record your ‘net par’ – par plus any strokes you would receive on that particular hole.

2. If you start a par 5 hole, hit two balls out of bounds off of the tee and are laying 5 in the fairway, your equitable stroke is 7, and you scored a 5 the previous day, you may determine:

► Your most likely score would be two more to get on the green plus two putts for a 9! If you play out the hole and make the 9 that is what you would record, adjusting your score by subtracting two strokes from your total score for posting purposes only. If you decide to ‘put your ball in your pocket’ and record your equitable stroke score for the hole, you would write in a 7x.

► If the tournament also sold you a mulligan which you used to make a birdie 4 on that par 5, that score would be used for the ‘game’ or tournament score; but for posting purposes, you or the Tournament Committee would adjust the 4 to net par, which is par plus any strokes you would have received. Example: Your course handicap is 10 and the par five is the #9 handicap hole; you would record a 6 on that hole even though you made a 4 with your mulligan. If the hole was the #15 handicap hole, you would record a 5, as a 10 handicap would not be entitled to a stroke on that hole).

The USGA requires that both rounds of an eclectic be posted even if a player failed to lower or complete every hole on the second day. The reasoning is that there is a way for you to equitably post a score for each hole even if you do not complete each hole that day. (It does assume that you holed out on each hole on the first day of the competition or in a partner format, that either you or your partner holed out on each hole.)

Furthermore, either both days are posted as Tournament scores or both days are posted as regular scores. How the rounds are classified is up to the Tournament Committee. The first day cannot be a T score and the second day a regular round. The Committee in charge of the tournament should declare in advance, preferably in its Conditions of the Competition or tournament notice what the status of the rounds will be – either “T” scores or regular rounds. Posting eclectic rounds is never “optional” or at the option of the player. The eclectic score (your best ball score over two days) is acceptable for posting purposes and this is mentioned only because it has happened where the eclectic score became a posted score. Ouch, especially if it was posted as a “T” score!

Whether you’re a player or the chair in charge of a tournament, eclectics score the best hole scores from two rounds of golf. As such, both rounds must be posted in accordance with the principles of equitable stroke control utlizing ‘most likely score’ and ‘net par’ if a hole is skipped or a mulligan is used to make the score.

Deb Long, WSCGA Handicap Administrator


2 thoughts on “Eclectic Tournaments – Selecting the Best

  1. Pingback: Wellness Wednesday: Eclectic Tournaments | Women's Southern California Golf Association Blog

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