How to Mark Golf Scorecards

Portrait of two men golfing

Your golf scorecard may or may not be a welcome sight, depending on how you’ve played that day. But even if you didn’t play well, the card may provide information to help improve your game. By seeing how many greens you’ve hit in regulation, and how many putts you’ve made, for example, you can easily understand which aspects of your game need the most attention during your lessons or practice sessions.

Write the name of the appropriate player or players in the large boxes on the left side of your scorecard. If you’re playing a recreational round, you’ll typically write your own name. If you’re competing in a stroke play tournament, you’ll likely be keeping score for one of your playing partners.

Write the total score for the first hole in the small box immediately to the right of the player’s name, making sure the box is meant for hole No. 1. If you’re unsure, look for the word “hole” in the upper-left of the scorecard. The hole numbers will appear in the row to the right. Be sure the box in which you’ve written the score for the first hole is in the column headed by the number “1.”

Write the number of putts you took on the first hole in the upper-right corner of the box in which you wrote the total score, if you wish. Some scorecards contain a smaller square within the box in which you can write the number of putts. Recording the number of putts is not required. It’s an optional statistic for players who wish to track their degree of putting success.

Draw a circle around the score to indicate a birdie, or a double circle to indicate an eagle, unless you score a hole-in-one, which is represented by a triangle. Draw a square around a score if the player gets a bogey, or two squares for a double-bogey. This is another optional adornment that you can skip if you wish, particularly for players scoring worse than double bogey.

Continue in the same manner for holes 2 through 9. Add the total scores for each of the first nine holes and write the score in the totals box. The total box’s column should be headed with the word “out.”

Continue in the same manner if you’re playing 18 holes. The total for holes 10 through 18 goes in the column headed by the word “in.”

Write the player’s 18-hole total in the appropriate box, which is typically headed by the word “total” or the abbreviation “tot.”


Some scorecards contain extra columns to allow for handicap strokes. The handicap column may be labeled “Hcp” or something similar. Write the total number of handicap strokes that a player is entitled to in this box, then subtract the number from the player’s total score. Write the player’s net total in the column headed by the term “Net.”

Most golf scorecards are read horizontally, but a few are set up vertically. In this case, write the score for the first hole in the column beneath the player’s name. Look for the hole numbers running in a column, probably on the left side of the scorecard.