golfer keeping score with score card

How To Keep Score In Golf

For those who are unfamiliar with the sport of golf, scoring can be somewhat elusive and mysterious. Unlike other sports, less is more in golf. That being said, keeping score in golf might seem somewhat straightforward, but there are certain things that you should keep on the lookout for.

In golf, the person who ends up scoring the lowest is the winner. This is unique to this sport, as in with all other sports, the goal is to get a higher score. While simple base score keeping in golf may seem pretty straightforward, there are some things that might arise, as well as some things to keep in mind when scoring a golf game. Not sure where to begin? This article will give you tips on keeping score and golf, as well as lay it out simply for you. 

If you are just picking up the sport of golf and looking into the rules and getting started, then keeping score is an important thing to learn right off the bat. The simple basics are rather easy to learn and won’t take too much time. It is when you get into things like pars and match play, then things may get a little more confusing. Let’s take a look at basic golf score keeping as well as scoring in match play and in relation to pars. 

How to Keep Score in Stroke Play

The basics are rather simple. Every time you swing a club with the intention of hitting the ball, that is a stroke. Each time you make a stroke, you count it and then, once you make the ball in the hole you will tally the amount of strokes it took you and record it on your scorecard. For example, if it took you 6 strokes to get the ball into the hole, then your score for that hole is a 6. 

You should always keep your scorecard with you, as this will help you figure out your score for the entire game. Generally speaking, you are in charge of keeping your opponent’s score and they are responsible for keeping yours. After each hole, you look over your opponent’s scorecard and if you agree with the number they’ve written down, either sign or initial it. This is to ensure the integrity and accuracy of scorekeeping in a game.

There are, of course, some other things that factor into a score. For example, most beginners to the game will need to add in some penalty strokes here and there. It is important to know these penalties and how many extra points they will cost you. Remember, golf is a game of low scores, so for each penalty, your score will go up. Some examples of penalties include:

  • Hitting your ball into the water means that you can no longer play that same ball. This will result in a 1-stroke penalty. You will then drop another ball in the designated location and play on.
  • Hitting a ball out of bounds will result in a 2-stroke penalty. Out of bounds is designated by white stakes and when this happens, you will re-hit your ball from the same original location.
  • Losing a ball will result in a 2-stroke penalty as well. Again, you will re-hit a new ball from the same original location.

It is always important to keep these penalties in mind when playing because if you are playing competitively, then these will count toward your score.

Scorekeeping in Match Play

This method of scorekeeping is a bit more relaxed than stroke play. Essentially, you are basing your game on who won more holes. One way to do this is by scoring each hole as “holes up” or “holes down”. The object is to win more holes than your opponent, but rather than keeping track of each and every stroke throughout the entire game, you will be keeping track of strokes on individual holes and basing the game on who won more holes. For example, if you score a 4 on the first hole and your opponent scores a 3, then your opponent is now “one up”. 

In match play, you are allowed to concede a hole if necessary. If you are having an impossible time trying to get the ball in the hole, you are able to give up on that hole and simply move on to the next. This way you can preserve your energy and your sanity. Go ahead and start again on the next hole.

With this type of game, you can go ahead and end a game when a player is up more holes than there are remaining holes, unless, of course, you want to continue playing to the end. Let’s say that there are only 3 holes remaining on the course and you or your opponent are up by 4 holes. You can call the game since there is no possibility of the other person coming back and winning. This saves time and sanity in a lot of ways.

This type of game is perfect for beginners because you are not obsessing over how many strokes it is taking you to get the ball into the hole. After all, practice makes perfect, and this is a great way to practice while still having fun and not worrying so much about the competition. Match plays are fun and effective for all players, but especially beginners.

Scoring with relation to par is another thing to consider when keeping score. Par means the number of strokes that an expert might take to get the ball in the hole on a particular hole or course. For example, if it is a par-5 and you score a 4, then you are 1 under par. Or if it is a par-4 and you score a 6, you are 2 over par. This is more for improving your game rather than keeping score.

When scoring in golf, it is always important to remember to keep it a friendly and fun game. While it can be frustrating at times, having fun is what it’s all about. Whether you are playing in a competition or just for fun, keeping score doesn’t have to be difficult. Just keep in mind that the less your score, the better you are doing.

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