Scorecard Terms: Definitions & In-Depth Guide

Mike Regan January 01 2022

When it comes to golf, certain rules apply - not only to the game itself but also to the documentation on the golf course. In order to record the results of a golf game or competition in accordance with the rules, golf clubs issue so-called scorecards. 

A scorecard is a kind of abbreviated and standardized game report in which the number of strokes (gross strokes) required for each hole is noted. The gross result (actual number of strokes) is used together with the handicap to determine the net result, which can have an impact on the reassessment of the individual DGV handicap.

The scorecard forms are specially adapted to each golf course and take into account the relevant characteristics of the respective course. The number of shots per golf course from tee 1 to tee 18 is noted on the scorecard. So you can be sure that your golf results will be accurately documented. 

But how do you actually fill out a scorecard correctly according to the rules of golf and what do you have to consider when filling it out? This article tells you all the details.

What information can be found on the scorecard?

Scorecards pre-printed by the club are freely accessible on every golf course so that every player - including guest players - is free for players who wish to keep a scorecard for self-assessment. 

A scorecard used in this way is for private purposes only and is by no means accepted as a basis for any intended improvement of the handicap.

The pre-printed scorecards for an 18-hole golf course contain information about the respective length of the fairway and whether it is a par 3, par 4, or par 5 for each hole (fairway) from tee 1 to tee 18.

Information about the length of the fairway differs depending on the colors of the standard tees and must be defined as a minimum requirement for men, yellow, and for women, red. Standard tees for men, white, and women, blue, are also defined, marked, and printed on the scorecard on most golf courses. 

In addition, the order of difficulty is defined as a so-called default for each hole. The most difficult hole has a handicap of 1 and the easiest hole has a handicap of 18. 

Understanding how to fill out the scorecard

Scorecards are used in golf games and competitions. In addition, you can of course also use scorecards privately when training on the practice field to record your results and have comparative values for the next training session.

In golf, the so-called counter, who can be a fellow player, takes care of filling out the scorecard. This enters the number of shots that the golfer has needed for each hole played. The results are always given in gross. Only after the game is the conversion into net results carried out in the secretariat.

Our scorecard first requires general information that you fill out. This includes data on the competition, the date of the golf game, the name of the golfer, and the handicap, i.e. the handicap that the player has.

There is also additional data that revolves around the various golf courses and is already indicated on the scorecard.

Most important golf scorecard terms

Fairway: A fairway is the part of the golf course that you must play on in order to get onto the green.

Golf club: Each golfer has a certain number of clubs and each club has a different number/type of functions: for example, putter, driver, or wedge. The maximum number of clubs allowed depends on your handicap and your gender. Additionally, there are restrictions on how many clubs you can use during any given round - not just because it's allowed but also because there's such a thing as carrying too many clubs (too heavy) which can be dangerous for your back and/or swing. Be sure to check out our list of terms related to equipment here.

A complete set of clubs is usually made up of the following:

Par: Par is a value that denotes the difficulty of a hole(s) of a golf course. Each hole on a given golf course has a par value assigned to it, which designates how difficult the golfer should perceive it to be. This value can vary from one hole to another and will normally provide an average level of difficulty for all holes on the golf course in question. Holes, where par is used, are denoted by numbers or combinations thereof, with each number indicating how many strokes over-par (more than the standard amount of strokes required for a hole) one must score in order to get a birdie (score below par). The term is also used in other games, including snooker and shesh besh.

On the putting green: On the putting green is the area of a golf course that is closest to the hole and can be made of smooth or raised surfaces. A putt (or 'put') is another name for a stroke on the putting green. Putts are used to move your ball closer to the cup so you can get it in easily by rolling it into your goal after you hit it onto their surface. For this reason, pressure on putts means performing them as quickly as possible with less movement and because there's no time limit on how long you have to take each shot during a round, players often find themselves getting quite nervous while putting due to knowing they have all the time in the world to line their shot up.

Scramble: A scramble is a scoring method used in the game of golf wherein groups of players form a team and combine their play to find the best score for each hole. In a scramble, better shots by one player are not necessarily canceled out or rendered irrelevant by poorer shots by another player; thus, it can happen that a low score for a hole is achieved even when many strokes have been taken on that particular hole. The word 'scramble' can also be used as an adjective to describe issues related to playing under such conditions.

In other words, two or more players hit from tee box together using alternate shot rules. Once they reach the green, they then use the putting strokes rules that are used in match play.

A scramble is sometimes referred to as a best-ball match, particularly when it's used in team competitions instead of individual ones. The term 'best ball' can also be used as an adjective for this type of play, meaning they are trying to make the best score they can by playing off each other's strengths and weaknesses - all while trying hard not to make mistakes!

Scoring: Scoring is the process of adding up the total number of strokes taken during a round or session of golf. Scores are used to measure both individual performance and group achievements within a game. Golfers go out on the course with the purpose of scoring well par (the typically expected score for a hole). However, just as it is possible for a golfer to score worse than par, so too can they exceed this expected goal.

In match play: In match play is the type of golf where two players compete against each other in individual or team competitions. Match play is now used mainly in amateur competition because professionals tend to prefer stroke play. The format may be "best ball" if both players on a team alternate shots until a combined score is reached (also see scramble definition above) and then compare their scores with another team; "fourball" if both players on the six best-ball teams will combine their total and compare (this provides an incentive not to take too many risks and wait for better shots); or "medal play" if each player on a team plays the ball they have reached and has it scored by an official. In "medal play", a better score will win instead of points accumulating to determine the winner.

In stroke play: In stroke play is where players attempt to accumulate the lowest number of strokes in order to achieve par or better when playing throughout the course. For example, in match play when one competitor is at least two strokes ahead of another, there is no additional value in winning holes so long as the competitor remains ahead; however, when both competitors are tied for first place, then getting that extra half shot can be significant. That extra half shot could be important depending on how close you got the hole before that.

Averages: In the game of golf, an average is a number resulting from dividing a total number of strokes taken over a specific time frame by the number of holes played. Players typically keep track of their average scores during the round and appreciate it when they score below this value. The term also refers to statistics that compare competitors' performances by taking their numbers from various rounds or tournaments into account. For example, a golfer with a course handicap index of 16 playing on a par 72 course would have an average rating score of 84-84/72=84.6. This means that if he were to shoot 1000 rounds on this course, he would be expected to make 846 pars (shots made within one stroke of the hole from off the green), 286 bogeys (shots made one stroke over from off the green) and 58 double-bogeys or worse.

The term average is also sometimes used when referring to a handicap index. For example, if a golfer starts with an index of 16 and after 10 rounds have an index of 18, his/her average index would be 16+18/10=17.4 which would remain valid until he had 20 rounds played at which point it would drop to 16+20/20=16.0 and so on until the number reaches zero again when it becomes 17+.

Score Card: A score card is a list of information about each hole on a golf course such as yardage, par, handicap index, and in particular the number of strokes taken at this hole in a past round.

Stableford: Stableford is another type of scoring format in golf where players get points by how near to the pin they hit the ball. Golfers gain several points for coming close to or into the cup (also known as holing out). In this way it does not matter how many strokes it takes to get the ball into the cup.

Cumulative Score: Cumulative score is a type of scoring format in golf where each hole is compared, point for point, but only one player's scores are counted per hole rather than both players'. The cumulative system works well with "better-ball" competition when two players combine their scores to make one team score. It also helps avoid ties because the golfer whose score on a given hole is lower gets more points; whoever was higher up on that hole (or holes) winds up winning the whole thing. A golfer whose game does not go very well might decide to simply try to win enough holes to beat his opponents without worrying about how many strokes it will take him to do it.

Rounds: A round is the set of holes played as a unit, usually at one time and on the same day (in contrast to match play). The lower score wins the round. Two players can also team up into a foursome, sixsome or twosome; if both players do very well then they might win that way as well.

Holes Handicap System: Some golf courses keep track of individual hole statistics for their members and apply a Handicap Index based on those scores and other information from prior rounds. Each group member uses their handicaps from different tee boxes so they have equal chances of winning each hole based on these handicaps. The better player plays from the back tees, the next best player from the middle tees, and so on. This way players can play against each other regardless of their different skill levels.

Handicap: A golfer's handicap is a numerical measure of his or her playing ability relative to scratch golfers. Handicaps are used to calculate scores for team matches and tournaments where the number of strokes given to a competitor varies based on their demonstrated ability. It is an estimate of an average number of strokes per round at which course level (including slope) should be played, taking into account any condition that would affect how far the ball travels; establishing what is known as a Course Handicap (CH).

A USGA Course Handicap Index (CHI) is a statistical estimate of a player's potential ability, expressed as the number of strokes by which the average golfer should have an advantage over that player on "standard scratch golf courses." The USGA calculates Handicaps using a modified version of the "Slope Rating" system developed as far back as 1960.

Hole: The column labeled Hole indicates the number of the golf course you are currently playing golf on. 

Flags: The columns with Flag are the flag poles on the golf course which you have to consider when playing. There is one flag pole for each tee. The flag can either be in your favor (red) or against you (yellow). 

A red flag means that this would be an easy shot or a short game, while a yellow flag denotes tougher conditions where there might even be water hazards close by or obstacles in front of the green.

Tee: The column labeled Tee indicates the tee at which you are currently playing golf on. Additionally, the number of the player who plays first is also noted here.

Gross score: The column labeled Gross score is used to record all shots that were taken by a golfer for one specific hole. 

The negative sign does not have any effect on this! A positive value will always be defined as 'Shot'.

Note: Only the number of strokes played on each hole has an effect on the subsequent net result!

Net result/gross result/gross score: The column labeled Net result (also called gross result) contains the sum of all shots taken for a specific round and can be either positive or negative.

Par: Under Par, you will find the number of golf strokes that a very good golfer with a handicap of 0 needs on average for this golf course.

Default: The numbers in the Default column describe the difficulty of each golf course from 1 to 18. The following applies: the lower the value, the more difficult the course. And this is where you or the counter of the scorecard come into play again.

Player: In the Player column, record the number of shots per golf course for the player. These values ​​in golf are also referred to as the score, which makes it clear where the name of the scorecard comes from.

Counter: This column is for the score of the selected counter per golf course. The prerequisite for this is, of course, that the counter is a fellow player. This information is used for later control but should be crossed out again at the end of the competition so that there is no confusion during the evaluation.

Holes 1 to 9: Holes 1 to 9 are written on the last line of the first part of our scorecard. Here you will find space to add up and note down the results of the first nine golf courses. The result of the first nine holes is also referred to as OUT.

Holes 10 to 18: The line holes 10 to 18 give you the opportunity to summarize and record the results of the second half of the game. The result of holes 10 through 18 is called IN or HOME.

Holes 1 to 18: In the line holes 1 to 18 you will find space to write down the overall result. To do this, add your OUT (hole 1 to 9) to your IN / HOME (hole 10 to 18). The overall result is also referred to as TOTAL.

Signature: With the signature of the player and that of the meter after the competition, you confirm the accuracy of the information recorded on the course.

Empty columns: All unnamed columns on the scorecard are for correction. If you make corrections to the number of beats, cross out the old number, write down the new number and let the corrections be confirmed by the counter's initials.

The different high demands that a golf course places on its playability make it necessary for a scorecard o be kept in accordance with the rules during a handicap tournament or during a private EDS round (Extra Day Score). 

The scorecard is kept by the counter during the round and signed by the counter and player after the end of the tournament or the EDS round and submitted to the tournament management or the club secretariat for evaluation. 

Mike Regan

Mike is a weekend golfer from Connecticut and a devoted fan of the game who turned his passion into the writing experience. Any day he keeps it under 80 is a cool day. When he's not writing about golf his is playing it.