Rules for Golf Scoring
There are two basic methods of scoring formats in golf. One way to score golf is keeping a running total of the number of strokes throughout an 18-hole round. This is called stroke, or medal play. Golfers can also compete in match play. In match play, a golfer gets a point for winning a hole, loses a point for a lost hole and gets a half point for a tied hole, called "halving" the hole. The match is over when one golfer has more points than holes remaining.
How does Stroke Play work?
In stroke play, the score is kept cumulatively for a game of golf. A golfer writes the score for each hole in the designated spot on the scorecard. At a golf tournament, the scorekeeper keeps score for his fellow competitor, who must then sign, or attest, the final score at the end of the round. In a casual game, golfers will often designate one person to keep the total score for all. This gross score is kept for all eighteen holes in this scoring system, which means a lot of addition is needed to determine a player’s score. The easiest method is to add the hole scores as you go from one individual hole to the next hole.
Stroke Play Terms
On the golf course, you may hear some interesting golf scoring terms. These are important in stroke play to keep track of what a golfer got on each hole compared to par. Here are some key ones to remember
- Birdie - One under a hole’s par
- Eagle - Two under a hole’s par
- Albatross - Three under a hole’s par, also known as a double eagle.
- Bogey - One over par
- Double Bogey - Two over a hole’s par
- Triple Bogey - Three over a hole’s par
- Penalty Strokes - Stroke assessed to a golfer's score for hitting the ball out of bounds, in a water hazard, or for breaking the rules of golf.
- Handicap - A golf handicap is a number meant to assess a golfers skill level. For more rules on the handicap index, visit the USGA website.
How does Match Play work?
On rare occasions, PGA tournaments will use a match play system. In match play, each hole counts as one point, instead of using net score. If golfer A shoots a 5 on the first hole and golfer B putts an 8, golfer A is plus 1.
If golfer B gets a 3 on the second hole and golfer A gets a 4, the match is even. It does not matter that golfer A had a bigger advantage in his winning hole than golfer B. The winner of the match is determined as soon as one golfer is ahead by more holes than those remaining.
If a golfer is 3 holes ahead going into the 15th hole and he wins that hole, he is 4 holes ahead with just three holes to play. In this case, he wins the match 4 and 3, meaning he was up four holes with three to play. If golfers are even after 18 holes, they continue to play until one golfer beats the other on an extra hole
What is a scramble?
Amateur charity tournaments are often played with a format called a "scramble" or "captain and crew." Golfers in groups of four play as a team. Each golfer hits a drive on the first hole. Everybody in the group picks up their shot and moves it to where the best shot in the group lies.
Everybody hits their second shot from there and again picks the best shot. The same procedure takes place on all ensuing shots until the golfers get the golf ball in the hole. The team with the lower score wins.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.