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Stroke hole, handicap hole or handicap-stroke hole...it's where you get your strokes.


Your Course Handicap tells you how many total strokes you are entitled to in stroke or match play. When you play match play, you need to know on which holes you are entitled to strokes and how many strokes you receive on that hole.

A "handicap-stroke hole" is a hole on which a player is entitled to apply a handicap stroke or strokes to a gross score. (See Sections 9-3a and 17.)

Let's say that your Course Handicap is 36 and you're playing an 18-hole match play. Your opponent is a 24 handicap. You would receive the difference, or 12 strokes, over the course of the match, one stroke for each of the first 12 stroke or handicap holes. The handicap-stroke holes are not necessarily in order of the golf course hole layout. Section 9-3a of the USGA Handicap Manual says in part:

For formats in which handicap strokes are used on specific holes during the course of play, a player generally takes them in the order assigned on the scorecard. For example, a player receiving three strokes takes them on the first, second, and third stroke holes. However, the committee in charge of the competition is permitted to assign a custom order. If so, it must publish a "stroke allocation table" indicating the order of holes at which handicap strokes are to be given or received. For example, while the score card may assign holes 3, 13, and 8 as the first, second, and third stroke holes, the committee may choose to designate 4, 12, and 7 instead. ("The Rules of Golf," Rule 33-4).

Typically the scorecard for the course on which you are playing will have the stroke hole designations. On the card you should see the yardages, the pars and the order of holes on which you would receive strokes in a match play. If you are playing stroke play, you need not worry about the stroke hole order.