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Scoring the Game of Golf

Hints & Tips

Golf is unique in that it is the only sport where the scores are kept by fellow competitors and not by officials. Players usually swap cards at the start of a round and mark each others scores as well as their own. If playing within a competition or tournament it is important that both players sign both cards, failure to do this can result in disqualification.

Each time you actually hit the ball is known as a stroke, the simplest way to score is by stroke play. Stroke play is where each player adds up his score for the round, and once handicaps have been deducted if they are being used, the lowest score wins. This way the player is playing against the course, rather than an opponent, therefore every putt must be holed no matter how small the distance. Most professional competitions are played like this.

Scores for each hole can be described as follows:

  • 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

Handicaps are used in golf as a numerical measure of an amateur golfer's ability to play over 18 holes; they can be used in either stroke play or match play competition. A player's handicap generally represents the number of strokes above par that a player will achieve on an above average day.