Match Play Pairs rules

Determining stroke allocations for 4BBB match play under WHS

The way handicaps are worked out in fourball matchplay was changed as part of the WHS update in April 2024. In betterball, players must calculate their Course Handicap, then work out how many shots they receive from the lowest golfer. This difference is then reduced to the 90% allowance.

Calculating each competitor’s Playing Handicap begins with their Handicap Index. For the Northern Golfer Match Play Pairs event, the maximum Handicap Index is 28.0. Anyone with a Handicap Index of more than 28.0 must reduce their index to 28.0 before continuing.

Next, each player must calculate their Course Handicap for the course and tees they are playing  (the easiest way to do this is by using the My England Golf app, or the conversion tables available outside the clubhouse/on the first tee at each club).

The lowest handicap is then adjusted to zero, with all players losing (or adding in the case of plus handicaps) the same number of shots.

These are then reduced to 90% to give each player their Playing Handicap.

Playing Handicap for Northern Golfer Match Play Pairs = adjusted Course Handicap x 90%

To calculate Playing Handicaps and determine the outcome of holes with different pars/stroke indexes when players are using a mixed combination of tees, click here.


Northern Golfer Match Play Pairs Rules

  1. The event is a fourball betterball match play competition run by Northern Golfer for its readers within its circulation area.
  2. Matches are to be played using handicaps calculated using the system outlined under the Match Play Pairs Rules tab on (which is in line with the WHS Rules of Handicapping). Please refer to this section before starting your match and contact Northern Golfer well in advance should you require any clarification.
  3. The home drawn pair must offer a minimum of three dates and times to their opposition.
  4. In the event of being unable to arrange a date, both teams will be disqualified.
  5. At each match, if courtesy is not given, green fees should be shared by both home and away teams.
  6. Should a match be tied after 18 holes, the result will be decided by a sudden-death playoff commencing at the first hole. In a playoff, strokes are received at the appropriate holes as they were during the normal course of the match.
  7. The minimum age for the competition is 18, there is no maximum.
  8. The maximum Handicap Index is 28.0 and any higher Handicap Index must be reduced to 28.0 before any calculations (eg Course Handicap and Playing Handicap) are then worked out.
  9. Handicap certificates/My EG apps should be available at all matches for opponents to inspect if requested.
  10. Matches are to be played from the tees of the day (Home players may choose the tees to play if that is an option at the host club). Where teams are mixed and a combination of tees is required, please refer to the explanation provided under the Match Play Pairs Rules tab on to determine stroke allocations.
  11. This competition is only open to members of golf clubs within Northern Golfer’s circulation area with an active Handicap Index.
  12. Once a player/team has registered their home club, they must notify Northern Golfer is they transfer to another home club.
  13. When a team is comprised of players from two different clubs, they may choose which club to play their ‘home’ matches at. They may change to the other club (or any club where one player in the team is a member) between rounds as they wish.
  14. Team members may be replaced (with written/email consent from Northern Golfer) before the start of a pair’s first match. After this point, no substitutions are allowed for any reason.
  15. All entry forms are to be completed on with the entry fee paid using the online payment system (please contact Northern Golfer if you require any assistance).
  16. No player can enter the competition more than once.
  17. No extensions will be given.
  18. A panel consisting of representatives from Northern Golfer will adjudicate any disputes. Their decision will be final.
  19. No correspondence will be entered into after a result has been submitted.
  20. The prizes are not transferable.
  21. Distance Measuring Devices are permitted.
  22. By entering the competition all players agree to being photographed and included in Northern Golfer should the occasion arise.
  23. The final is to be arranged by Northern Golfer, and players will be notified in good time.
  24. During a round, a player must not ride on any form of motorised transportation except as authorised by Northern Golfer (for example, for medical reasons). Any player already in possession of a medical certificate allowing the use of transportation can consider the exemption granted without seeking additional approval from Northern Golfer. If you require clarification on this or wish to seek approval, please contact Northern Golfer.

For more information contact Dean Bailey,