The Scorecard: What you should know

12 things to help you understand this key piece of equipment.

Posted: 12 January 2004
by Bob Warters

A typical scorecard

The golf scorecard is a vital piece of equipment. Not only is it an official record of your score for competitions and handicap application but it also identifies various local rules to consider.

It needs to be handled with care and cherished to accurately record your performance and submitted, signed by yourself and the marker, to the committee immediately on the completion of every competitive round.

Here are dozen things you should know…


Always identify the competition for which the Scorecard is being used. Sounds obvious but without it the committee, which has jurisdiction over the competition, cannot accept the scorecard.

Date and tee time

It’s always advisable to include the date and tee time on any scorecard used in competition and for handicapping purposes – though not compulsory unless stated by the committee.

Names and handicaps

In singles competition always write your name clearly in the appropriate space on the card (Player A) together with your up-to-date handicap, which can normally be found on a regularly updated master list on the locker room or clubhouse noticeboard. It’s your responsibility to identify your handicap accurately.

In strokeplay you must ensure your handicap is recorded before you submit the scorecard. If no handicap is recorded before it is returned (Rule 6-6b) or if the recorded handicap is higher than that to which you are entitled and this effects the number of strokes received, you are disqualified, otherwise the score stands.

Exchange cards

Though golf is recognised is one of the fairest sports with the conduct of its competitors usually unimpeachable, it is compulsory to exchange cards with your playing companions before your round starts. Space is provided, usually in a column on the left hand side, for you to record your own gross score for each hole (on your playing companion’s card) and to match it with your official score at the end of the round.

Stroke holes/index

It is the player’s responsibility to know the holes at which handicap strokes are to be given or received in matchplay.

These are usually identified on the card in a different colour to the par for each hole.

It is not the player’s responsibility to accurately identify the strokes received in the space provided. The space is provided merely as a guide. The committee will work out the appropriate number of strokes received based on your current handicap.

In singles strokeplay medal this is normally apportioned with full handicap, though in the singles stableford points system, strokes received can be full, three-quarters or seven-eighths of the handicap, subject to the committee’s rules for that competition.

It is advisable to identify the holes in the Stroke Index column where strokes are received.

Which tee

In the column indicating which tee is being used it is recommended you circle the appropriate coloured box.

Gross score for singles

In singles strokeplay medal competition, it is compulsory that your gross score for each hole is recorded (ideally after each hole has been completed) correctly. If you return a score for any hole lower than actually taken, you are disqualified. If you return a score for any hole higher than actually taken, the score as returned stands.

The columns for net score and W (Won), L (Lost), H (Halved) and Points, are merely for guidance and personal record.

Bogey and par competitions

The marker of the card is responsible for marking only the gross number of strokes for each hole where the competitor makes a net score equal to or less than the fixed score (Rule 32-1a)

Total, in and out

Though there are spaces provided for your score for the ‘front’ nine holes (In), back nine (Out) and Total, it is not your responsibility to ensure the scores add up correctly.

Your performance will only be judged on your gross score for each hole – not your skill or otherwise at adding up. That is the responsibility of the committee, which also applies the handicap recorded on the scorecard (Rule 33-5).

Signing your card

Having exchanged cards back with your playing companions, check carefully that your score on your official card matches that which you have written in the ‘Marker’ column. Any disputes must be clarified before the cards are signed. Each card requires two signatures – your playing partner’s and your own.

Cards submitted and not signed will be disqualified.

Fourball competition

Recorded scores on the card differs slightly in fourball competition. Player A and B must be clearly identified with their names and handicaps in the appropriate spaces.

Also the player whose gross score is to count should be clearly identified in the appropriate column (with their gross score). A pair are disqualified when the recorded score of the partner whose score is to count is lower than actually taken. If the recorded score of the partner whose score is to count is higher than actually taken, it must stand as returned.(Rule 6-6d).

Foursomes/Greensome competition

Both players and their current handicaps must be identified in the appropriate spaces Player A and B.

As the competition demands the gross score for each hole after alternate shots (in greensomes the favoured drive is selected, with the player whose drive is not selected taking the next shot before alternate play), scores need only be record in column A.

Strokes are awarded based on a proportion of the combined handicaps (three-sixteenths for foursomes).

Have I missed anything? Tell us on the forum your experiences with a scorecard or unsual local rules you’ve discovered on the back.

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Myself and my playing partner were disqualified last weekend because our marker recorded our better ball score in one column only and it was not possible to determine who had actually scored on each hole.Our marker is a 6 handicap golfer, a regular in the scratch team and should have known better. my point is; I accept the disqualification but he should also be penalised for his mistake.

Posted: 13/01/2004 at 16:50

Why should he be penalised? your scorecard is your responsibility. No one elses.

6-6b, 6-6d & 31-4

I guess you wont get caught again....

Posted: 13/01/2004 at 17:38

It's a tough one to swallow Mark, but Ian's right. The scorecard is your responsibility, once you sign it. Hopefully, once bitten etc...

Maybe make a suggestion to the comp sec next time he/she puts up a fourball entry sheet, to include the Rules identified by Mark at the bottom. Ed

Posted: 14/01/2004 at 09:09

A few years ago (in the days before nightly updated computerised records) I turned up at my club early one morning to play in the monthly medal. Having played poorly in the previous comp a month earlier, I was uncertain whether my handicap had gone up a shot or not. I did check the "regularly updated list" before I played and it still said 11.4. Surprised by this, I checked the board for competition results but my previous comp was not up there and no one was in the office. Erring on the side of caution (or so I thought), I signed my card as playing off 11.
It turned out that my official handicap had gone back up to 12 and as a result I was disqualified, despite the handicap on my card agreeing with the only club record available to me at the time. And what makes the decision non-sensical is that I'd actually won it by 1 shot, well below nett level par and couldn't get cut! Was their decision correct and have the rules for this changed in 2004?

Posted: 14/01/2004 at 09:48

That sort of story puts me off playing club competitions, not that I'm a member anywhere :-(

Posted: 14/01/2004 at 09:56

I don't think you should have been disqualified, Andy. You should only be disqualified if you stated a handicap HIGHER than the one you were entitled to. The score should have stood!

Posted: 14/01/2004 at 10:22

Nick is correct, there is no penalty for playing off a lower handicap. Who had you upset that they didn't want you winning?

Posted: 14/01/2004 at 10:28

I agree. Andy, you were unfairly treated, should not have been disqualified, and should be the medal winner.

Complain, and point out the rules to the Handicap secretary.



Posted: 14/01/2004 at 11:04

You definitely shouldn't have been disqualified and even if you were you should still have been cut. Sounds like your competition sec was having an off-day (or doesn't like you!).

Posted: 16/01/2004 at 13:44