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Scoring in Golf - Strokeplay

Golfers are responsible for officiating the rules of the strokeplay scoring system with honesty and integrity. They will also be personally responsible for knowing all the regulations of golf.

GOLF SCORING FORMATS: That means all players should conduct their round of golf playing with absolute integrity.

The very essence of the game rests on all competitors’ being truthful about their golf scoring system, number of shots taken, and playing the ball as it lies.

Golf Scoring Standard

To emphasize the point – golf match officials do not keep score.

Scores are matched and recorded on paper cards by each competitor and there are very few, if any, other sports which allow officiating in this manner.

Swapping the cards before the round reduces the likelihood that a player will be dishonest.

Fellow players mark both scores on their card and must sign both cards if it will be submitted for handicapping or in a professional competition. In fact, failing to sign a card or worse – signing for a wrong score – is most likely to result in disqualification.

Despite there being a few extreme exceptions to the strict rulings, you should never move or interfere with the ball. Losing your ball or playing it into a watery grave – such as a lake – means you are responsible for adding the penalty strokes to your score tally before you continue to play on.

Golf Scoring Rules in Strokeplay

Strokeplay tournaments are used for most professional competitions and commonly known as ‘medals’. It is accepted by most golfers as the simplest form to score in golfing because each player attempts to beat par for the course rather than a fellow competitor or opponent.

There are no such putts as a ‘gimme’ in strokeplay golf. Despite the short distance of the ball to the cup, players must hole every putt. After any relevant handicaps have been deducted the scores are accumulated for the round and the lowest number wins.

Related Pages
Golf Match Play Scoring
Stableford Scoring Rules
Foursomes Golf Rules

Golf Scoring Format on a Course

In golf scoring terms, your total score on a golf course is the overall number of shots (strokes) you take to complete the round – including stroke penalties.

Your total score for the round is the number of shots you play on each hole added together.

For example: If your total score at the end of play is 88 shots and your partner shoots 92 then you are the winner.

Consequently, scoring four on a par-three hole means you are one over par for that particular hole.

Golfing Handicap System

If you compete against better players, the golfing handicap system allows you to take a ‘head start’ by giving you extra shots. This golfing system is called handicapping.

Golf Scoring Terms

  • Albatross: Three shots less than par.
  • Eagle: Two shots less than par.
  • Birdie: One shot less than par.
  • Bogey: One shot more than par.
  • Double bogey: Two shots more than par.
  • Triple bogey: Three shots more than par.

Par for the Course

Par for the course is the expected number of shots (or strokes) taken by top-class professional golfer. Par refers to each hole and the whole round. It also considers the length and difficulty for each hole on the course.

Typically, the par for most golf courses ranges between 70 and 72 shots. Par for a hole is three, four, or five shots – with a few par 6 exceptions (mostly in America).

Par 3 Holes

  • Par three holes for men are mostly less than 250 yards or 229 meters in length (220 yards for women).
  • The objective is to hit the green with one shot and then take two putts to shoot par (par three).

Par 4 Holes

  • Par four holes range from around 300 to 450 yards (411 meters).
  • Players hope to reach the green in two shots and leave two putts for par (par four).

Par 5 Holes

  • Par five holes are nearly always longer than 480 yards (around 450 meters).
  • If you can reach the green in three shots it leaves two putts for par (par 5).
  • Par six holes do exist in the world and are usually well over 600 yards long (550 meters).

Scoring in Golf Tournaments