Golf Tips: How to Keep Your Golf Score

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How To Keep Score in Golf

A Guide for the Beginning Golfer: How to keep score

In this guide, I will help the new golfer learn how to keep score in golf. This is also good information for spectators as well, because it will help them understand how scoring in golf is done.

Keeping Score

In stroke play, it is simply about keeping your score. You are playing against everyone else in the field, not just the people in your foursome and not against any one person in particular.  Every time you swing the club or putter, you count that as a stroke. If you swing the club five times on the first hole, you take a score of five.  A putt counts as a score. 

You keep your score on a scorecard.  On the card, there will be a spot for each hole you play. They are numbered and you have to put the correct score for each hole on the correct spot on the card. If you do not write down the right score on the right spot on the card, you can be disqualified.

There are penalty scores in golf which also adds strokes to your score.  Penalties are assessed if you do things like hitting the ball in the water or hitting a ball out of bounds.  If you hit the ball in the water and there is a red or yellow marker by the water hazard, you can take relief from the water, and add one stroke for that relief.  (The way you take relief is complicated and depends on the situation, but generally that relief will count as one stroke).  So if you swing the ball 5 times and take it out of the water once, you most likely will take a score of 6 on the hole.  If you hit your ball out of bounds you must replay a new ball.  The first swing counts as one stroke and because it goes out of bounds you add one stroke.  Then when you hit a new ball, you are counting THREE.   It is called a penalty of stroke and distance. That is the stroke counts as one and the distance to return to where you originally hit the ball counts as one stroke.  So if you hit the ball out of bounds on your first stroke and then hit the ball 4 more times, your score on that hole will be six.

In STROKE PLAY golf, you are not responsible for adding up your score correctly. You are only responsible for putting the correct number on the card for the hole.  As long as the numbers opposite each hole is correct you will be fine.

Match Play

In Match Play, the score is recorded as holes up or holes down.  Each hole is Won, Lost or Halved.  If you win the first hole, you will be up one and record a plus one by the hole.  If you then tie the next two holes, you are still one up and you put plus one on the next two holes.   The match is over when one player is more holes up than the number of holes remaining.  Because each hole is separate, you don't need to worry about the actual score on the hole, only if you won or lost the hole.    


There is one last way to keep score in golf.  Stableford scoring is a way of awarding points to a player for shooting a certain score on a hole.  The game is based on a point system where the points you earn are determined by your score on the hole.  Each tournament is different bu the following is an example of a Classic Stableford scoring.

Double Eagle 8 points

Eagle 5 points

 Birdie 2 point

Par 0 points

Bogey -1 point

Double Bogey or more  -2 points

The player with the most points at the end of the tournament is the winner.


I have tried to give you some basic information on how to keep score in golf.   Here is an example of a golf card to keep score on: I hope you find this guide informative.


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