Regulation and Policies


GAM’s Policy On the New USGA Rule on Grooves

The USGA has implemented its new Rule on grooves as of January 1, 2010, beginning with the U. S. Open, the U.S. Women’s Open, and the U.S. Senior Open and their sectional (final stage) qualifying events. The USGA will adopt the new Rule for U.S. Open local qualifying in 2011. The USGA intends to implement the new Rule for its amateur championships no later than 2014.

The USGA further recommends that state golf associations follow these time guidelines, but says that if a state implements the new Rule in 2014, it should be only done for competitions involving expert players (such as the Michigan Amateur.) At this time, GAM tournaments will not be subject to the USGA groove rule.

Play is governed by the Rules of Golf, Effective January 2023 and clarifications as approved by the USGA and The R&A.  Any changes or additions to this card will be supplied on a supplementary Rules sheet.   Unless otherwise noted, the penalty for breach of a Local Rule or Condition of Competition is: General Penalty




Balls and Clubs: Only brands of golf balls on the latest USGA list of conforming balls shall be used.  Only conforming driver heads on current USGA list may be used.  Non-conforming golf clubs, balls or tees shall not be used (Local Rules G-1 and G-3). Penalty for making a stroke in breach of Rule 4.1a or 4.2a: Disqualification.


Undue Delay: See GAM Pace of Play Policy, Local Rule 8K-2. Players in violation of policy may be penalized.

Code of Conduct: See GAM Player Code of Conduct and Committee Procedure 5I. Players in violation of policy may be penalized or disqualified.


Penalty Area Stakes and Lines: When both stakes and lines are used to define penalty areas, stakes identify the penalty area and lines define the edge. Penalty areas are marked by either painted yellow or red lines. This affects the player’s relief options. See Rule 17.1d.  

Practice: Prior to and after a round in stroke play, a player may practice on the designated practice areas. Rule 5.2b is modified in this way with Model Local Rule I-1.2. A player is prohibited from practicing on the course after the player completes their final round of the day.

Cell Phones: Cell phones may be used for legal distance-measuring, scorekeeping, and viewing of approved tournament information (e.g., notice/hole-location sheet, live leaderboard, Rules of Golf). Deliberate refusal to update scores after each hole or deliberate falsification of scores in a live scoring app is a violation of the GAM Player Code of Conduct. Should a player use a cell phone for matters other than this in a non-urgent situation, the player may be subject to penalty under the GAM Player Code of Conduct. This includes, but is not limited to, social media usage, texting, e-mail, calls and web browsing.

Motorized Transportation: Unless otherwise permitted by the Committee, players and caddies shall not use motorized carts.  Penalty for breach- General Penalty for each hole where there is a breach. Spectators are not permitted to ride. When carts are permitted only two carts per group and only two people in or on a cart.


Integral Objects – No Relief: Includes rods, cables, wires, or wrappings when closely attached to trees. The integral objects of the course may be touched with a club or otherwise.

Interference from an Immovable Obstruction on or close to putting greens:  Model Local Rule F-5.2 is in effect giving the player an extra option of relief when both the ball and the obstruction are part of the general area cut to fairway height or less. The player may take relief under Rule 16.1b if an immovable obstruction is on the line of play and is on or within two club-lengths of the putting green, and within two club-lengths of the ball. Complete relief must be taken, which includes both physical and line of play interference.


Relief for Ball Lying in Area of Bunker Damaged by Animals, Model Local Rule F-10: Areas of damage in bunkers caused by animals (not including insects) are treated as ground under repair from which relief is allowed under Rule 16.1b. Relief is not granted if the damage only interferes with a player’s stance.

Gates in Boundary Fences and Walls, Model Local Rule F-26: All closed gates that are attached to boundary walls and fences are part of the boundary object.  Relief is not allowed from such a gate under Rule 15.2 or 16.1. But an open gate is not treated as part of the boundary object and may be closed or moved to a different position.


Suspension of Play Due to a Dangerous Situation (Note to Rule 5.7b):

Local Rule as prescribed in J-1 is in effect. Rule 5.7b requires players to stop play immediately if the Committee declares an immediate suspension of play because of a dangerous situation, which will be signaled with one long blast of a siren or horn. Players will be notified of suspension and must stop play immediately. Any immediate suspension of play requires players to discontinue play immediately and not resume until the Committee has so ordered.  Players may not play a stroke or complete the play of a hole before discontinuing play.  All practice areas are closed until the Committee has declared them open. Players who disregard such closing are subject to disciplinary action .Players MUST evacuate to a place of safety. Everyone is urged to take every precaution for protection against lightning.  Players have the right to stop play if they think lightning threatens them, even though the Committee may not have specifically authorized it by signal. Penalty for breach of Rule 5.7b: Disqualification. In the event play is being suspended due to a non-dangerous situation, the committee will notify the players as such prior to use of a horn or siren. Players do have the option to complete the hole they are on under this scenario.

Resumption of Play: The committee will notify players as to the procedure for resumption of play. There will not be a horn or siren to start play unless players are specifically instructed one will be used.


Return of Scorecard: A scorecard is considered returned when it has been certified properly and the player has left the scoring area. The scoring area will be defined by the committee at each competition. Model Local Rule L-1 is in effect, which states Rule 3.3b(2) is modified in this way: If a player returns a scorecard without the hole scores being certified either by the player, the marker or both, the player gets the general penalty (two penalty strokes).The penalty applies to the last hole of the player’s round.

Close of Competition: The competition shall be deemed to have closed when the trophy has been awarded to the winner or in the absence of a prize ceremony, when all scores have been approved by the Committee and results have been announced.

Updated 3/9/23

The GAM is utilizing an adjustment system in its Net Tournaments where players that shoot what the USGA Handicap System considers to be exceptional scores in GAM Net Tournaments will see their course handicaps reduced in GAM Net Tournament rounds and competitions for future GAM Net Tournaments.

New in 2024, players that win a GAM Net Tournament will not be able to play at an index higher than whatever their index was at the conclusion of the tournament they won for the rest of the current season and the entirety of the next season. This applies to winners of 2023 tournaments.

The system, shown below, was created utilizing Appendix E of the USGA Handicap System. Appendix E displays the probability of golfers of varying handicaps scoring particular Net Handicap Differentials. Put simply, the lower the Net Handicap Differential, the more unlikely the score.

For scores with a probability ranging from 1-in-75 to 1-in-499, the player’s course handicap will be reduced one (1) stroke. For rounds with a probability between 1-in-500 and 1-in-1999, the player’s course handicap will be reduced two (2) strokes. For scores that are deemed to have a probability lower than 1-in-2000 or are shown as “Off the Chart”, the player’s course handicap will be reduced three (3) strokes.




Player A is playing a GAM Net Tournament round on a course with a rating of 71.8 and a slope of 136. He is playing off a GAM/USGA Handicap Index of 8.1.

He shoots a gross score of 75.

Handicap Differential = (Gross Score-Course Rating) x (113/Course Slope)
= (75-71.8) x (113/136)
= 3.2 x .831
Handicap Differential = 2.7

Net Handicap Differential = Handicap Differential – GAM/USGA Handicap Index
= 2.7 – 8.1
Net Handicap Differential = -5.4

According to the USGA Score Frequency and Probability Table, the probability of Player A shooting that score was 1-in-128. Per the GAM Net Tournament Adjustment System, his Course Handicap will be reduced one (1) stroke.

Here is an outline for how the GAM Net Tournament Adjustment System will operate:
– Upon the first instance of a player shooting a score that triggers an adjustment, the adjustment will remain in place for the next 5 GAM Net Tournaments he or she plays. If that player shoots another round that triggers an adjustment within those next 5 GAM Net Tournaments, the adjustment will be added and be in place for the player’s next 10 GAM Net Tournaments. Should another round that triggers an adjustment be shot within those 10 GAM Net Tournaments, the duration resets and becomes the next 15 GAM Net Tournaments, etc.
– The adjustment duration procedure as described will be applied retroactively to all adjustments from the 2017 GAM Net Tournament Season. For example, a player that triggered an adjustment in his or her first tournament of 2017, and then played in three more GAM Net Tournaments for the remainder of 2017, has two remaining GAM Net Tournaments where his or her adjustment will be enforced provided he or she does not shoot another round that triggers an adjustment within those tournaments. 
– The differentials for each GAM Net Tournament round will be calculated using the index the competitor is playing off of for that particular round.
– Adjustments will not be made for the second round of the Michigan Net Amateur and the Michigan Senior Net Amateur should the competitor shoot a first-round score that triggers an adjustment.
– For the GAM Net Match Play Championship, no adjustments will be made between the stroke-play round and the first round of match play, or between matches. Should a competitor shoot a score in the stroke-play round that would trigger an adjustment, the adjustment will be applied for all other GAM Net Tournament rounds going forward. New in 2024, scores from matches will now be posted.
– Adjustments will be based on the numbers shown in the GAM Net Tournament Handicap Adjustment Table. No alterations from that will be made based on the perceived difficulty, or lack thereof, for a certain round based on factors such as the weather or hole locations.- Adjustments will not be made based on rounds outside of GAM Net Tournament competition. GAM Net Tournament competition does NOT include GAM Golf Days, GAM Tournaments where gross prizes are awarded, and non-GAM net competitions (i.e., weekly leagues, other association competitions, club championships or club invitationals.) 



Rule 14-3 states that during a stipulated round, a player must not use any artificial device or unusual equipment, or use any equipment in an unusual manner:

a. That might assist him in making a stroke or in his play; or

b. For the purpose of gauging or measuring distance or conditions that might affect his play; or

c. That might assist him in gripping the club, except that:

(i) plain gloves may be worn

(ii) resin, powder and drying or moisturizing agents may be used; and

(iii) a towel or handkerchief may be wrapped around the grip

However, in 2006, the GAM adopted the Local Rule, per Decision 14-3/0.5, allowing players to use devices for measuring and gauging distance ONLY. The use of a distance-measuring device for measuring other conditions that might affect a player’s play (e.g., gradient, wind speed, temperature, etc.) is not permitted. In 2016, the GAM adopted the USGA and R&A Local Rule (see Appendix IV-5) that states distance-measuring devices that have features capable of measuring other conditions may be used so long as those features are disabled. This includes using a cell phone as a distance-measuring device.

However, should a player be using his cell phone for something other than a distance-measuring device in a non-urgent situation, the player may be subject to penalty under the GAM Player Code of Conduct. This includes, but is not limited to, social media usage, texting, e-mail, calls and web browsing.

Spectator carts are only permitted if a request, accompanied by a doctor’s note confirming the spectator’s need for a cart, is submitted to the GAM at least two days prior to the competition. Requests and doctor’s notes can be submitted to [email protected] and doctor’s notes can also be faxed to (248) 478-5536 attn: GAM Tournament Dept.


In order to enhance the GAM tournament experience there has to be motivation for players to want to play at the prescribed pace or better, walk faster between shots and keep up with the group in front of them. The incentive behind this policy is that penalty strokes will be assessed if participants do not play within this policy’s parameters. 

1. The GAM may time all players at any time
2. Always play ready golf
3. Your position relative to the group in front of you is your responsibility, the group behind you is the GAM’s responsibility


At each competition, the Tournament Committee will determine the maximum allotted time (Time Par) each group is permitted to play each hole and the stipulated round.  The stipulated round is complete when the last player in the group completes play of the final hole and the flagstick is replaced. 

The lead group(s) must finish their stipulated round within the maximum allotted time established by the committee.  If they finish over the maximum allotted time each player may be assessed a penalty to their score for the final hole. 
Exception: If the lead group is held up by play that was sent out before them or that began on the opposite tee, they will be exempt from the pace of play penalty if they finish over their allotted time but less than 13 minutes behind of the group ahead of them. 
See exemptions from penalty.

Any subsequent group must finish their stipulated round within the maximum allotted time established by the committee. If they finish over the maximum allotted time, they must finish not more than 13 minutes behind the group ahead of them.  If they finish over the maximum allotted time and more than 13 minutes behind the group ahead of them, each player in the group may be assessed a penalty to their score for the final hole.

Groups that are noted as being over Time Par and out of position during a round will receive Group Warning Cards from a GAM Rules Official. At this point, the group must work to get back under Time Par or in position. In addition, individuals will also be timed. Recorded individual times of over 40 seconds will subject that player to penalty.

In the event that a group is under Time Par and out of position, individuals will be timed and any player that has recorded a time of 40 seconds will receive an Individual Warning Card. Following the issuing of an Individual Warning Card, that player will be subject to penalty for any further recorded times of over 40 seconds. Individual penalties may be assessed during the round.  

Timing of a player’s stroke will begin when they have had reasonable opportunity to reach their ball, it is their turn to play and they can play without interference or distraction. Time spent determining yardage will count as part of the time taken for the stroke. The GAM will be enforcing the USGA recommendation found in Rule 5.6b, stating that the player make a stroke in no more than 40 seconds after he or she is able to play without interference and distraction. Also per Rule 5.6b, a player should usually be able to play more quickly than that and is encouraged to do so.

If a group does not finish within its Time Par and out of position due to circumstances beyond its control or any other circumstances which the committee deems to be exceptional, the Committee may be justified in waiving the penalty. 

If GAM Staff or a GAM Rules Official identifies that a player or players in the group are a cause of the group failing to maintain pace of play and determines other players are playing well within the requirements of this policy, those meeting the requirements of this policy may be absolved from penalty.


GAM PLAYER CODE OF CONDUCT: By submitting an entry, or by participating in any GAM competition, the player understands that his/her participation is at the sole discretion of the GAM.  The player’s entry may be rejected for any reason, at the discretion of the Official-in-Charge, at any time before the close of the competition (as defined in the USGA Rules of Golf).  Unbecoming conduct or actions at any GAM event, or state, national, or international event, or conduct or actions deemed detrimental to the GAM, the spirit of the game, or to the host facilities are grounds for such rejection.  During competition, a serious breach in etiquette may result in warning, penalty, or immediate disqualification.
A serious breach in etiquette may include, but is not limited to:
1.  Cheating
2.  Willful destruction of golf course or GAM property
3.  Deliberate failure to properly care for the course
4.  Abusive language or conduct towards GAM and/or host facility, staff, volunteers, or other players
5.  Club throwing and/or physical endangerment of others
6.  Offensive or excessively loud behavior
7.  Alcohol and/or substance impaired behavior
8.  Repeated withdrawals or no cards during or after the round
9.  Inappropriate golf attire
10.  Not meeting handicap/score posting requirements
11. Other conduct deemed to be unbecoming
12. Improper use of a cell phone by a player or caddie during the stipulated round
Should such an incident occur, the Official-in-Charge may submit a report to the Code of Conduct Subcommittee consisting of the Championship Committee Chair, Championship Committee Vice Chair, Executive Director, Senior Director of Competitions (if not Official-in-Charge), and any pertinent Subcommittee Chair or on-site Rules Official. The player that committed the breach and other involved people may be contacted for input. The report will be finalized by this Subcommittee and submitted to the Championship Committee for approval. Sanctions may include suspension from future GAM competitions, losing exempt status for future year(s), or being declared ineligible for GAM team competitions and/or player awards.  The GAM can also stipulate that sanctions only be lifted after the player meets reasonable conditions for reinstatement. The decision to reject an entry during an event by the Official-in-Charge is final.  However, any further sanctions imposed by the Championship Committee may be appealed to the GAM Executive Committee, whose decision shall be final.

GAM Residency Principles
With the Michigan Amateur Championship, Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship, Michigan Junior State Amateur Championship, and Michigan Girls’ Junior State Amateur Championship, the GAM seeks to identify the premier amateur golfers among those who call the state home. The Association has established its own criteria for use in questions of residency. The issue of a player’s residency is in the sole discretion of the GAM.
A player is responsible for reviewing and confirming compliance with the GAM Residency Criteria. Should questions or concerns about residency status exist, a player must contact the GAM at least two weeks prior to the entry deadline at 248.478.9242 ext. 111 or [email protected].
As a part of the application process, an applicant shall attest that they meet the GAM Residency Criteria. The GAM has the right, at any time, to request documentation from an applicant verifying that claimed status.  Any falsification, misrepresentation, or deliberate omission of facts or documents pertinent to the applicant’s eligibility may result in the player being disqualified, stripped of any prize or title, and that person being declared ineligible to participate in any future GAM tournaments.
The GAM reserves the right to consider exceptional circumstances and rule in the best interest of the Association and its Championships on matters of residency.
GAM Residency Criteria
To meet the GAM Residency Criteria for the Michigan Amateur, Michigan Women’s Amateur, Michigan Junior State Amateur, or Michigan Girls’ Junior State Amateur, a player must belong to one or more of the following categories:
1. A person who establishes their legal residence in Michigan and intends to stay here permanently. Generally, this depends on where you live, work, or attend school; where you have lived, worked, or attended school; in the case of a student, where your parents or guardians live; and other evidence that there is intent to make Michigan a permanent home. You have severed any previous out-of-state ties.

Residents are generally found to have:
• Michigan driver’s license
• Michigan license tag on vehicle
• Voter registration in Michigan
• Ownership or lease of Michigan residence
• Michigan homestead exemption declared on residence
• Place of employment in Michigan
• Proof of payment of utilities at property for which residency is being claimed
• Michigan address listed on state and federal income tax returns 
2. A student whose parents or guardians are permanent legal residents of Michigan as shown by permanent employment in the State, establishment of a primary household here and severance of out-of-state ties.

3. Your spouse or partner is employed in Michigan in a full-time, permanent position and this employment is your primary purpose for your family living in the State.

4. Military personnel based in Michigan on active duty, their spouse, and dependent children.

A dependent student does not meet the GAM Residency Criteria if his or her parents or guardians are not permanent legal residents of Michigan as described above.

A student is presumed to be a dependent of his/her parents or guardians if they are 24 years of age or younger and have primarily been involved in educational pursuits or have not been financially self-supporting through employment.

Circumstances that generally do not show permanent residency include:
• Employment in a temporary or short-term position usually intended for internship, apprenticeship or training
• Employment in a position normally held by a student
• Your spouse is employed permanent in the State, but you are in Michigan for temporary reasons
• Your relatives live in Michigan
• You lived in Michigan permanently in the past

The GAM may request documentation to determine a player’s residency. If you feel your Michigan residency may be in question, please contact the GAM. To guarantee a thorough review, contact the GAM at least two weeks prior to the entry deadline. In the event a residency question is presented later than that time, the GAM reserves the right to remove a player from the field.

UPDATE 2/14/2022

The Golf Association of Michigan is returning to a Tournament Refund/Withdrawal Policy similar to what was in place prior to 2020.

If a player must withdraw from a GAM Tournament or GAM Golf Day BEFORE the listed entry deadline, they are entitled to a refund of their entry fee, minus a processing fee.

If a player must withdraw from a GAM Tournament or GAM Golf Day AFTER the listed entry deadline, they are only entitled to a refund of their entry fee if they submit documentation from a medical professional certifying the need to withdraw from the competition.

The most efficient way to alert the GAM of a Tournament Withdrawal is to send an e-mail to [email protected] or, if a GAM Golf Day, [email protected].  Be sure to include your name and the competition you are withdrawing from in the message.

Please note that this policy DOES NOT apply to USGA Qualifiers.

The GAM reserves the right to consider extenuating circumstances in matters related to this policy.

For any clarification on the Golf Association of Michigan Tournament Policies below, please contact the Tournament Department at (248) 478-9242.


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