Easy Ways to Remember How Golf is Scored

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Luke is an avid weekend-warrior golfer from the East Coast who plays golf more than he cares to admit.

a golfer keeping score on a scorecard

When you play golf, you have to keep score, and it is pretty simple. So – how golf is scored as a standard will be explained here.

After each hole, you record how many shots you took before the ball landed in the hole. But is there more to how golf is scored than just writing on a scorecard? 

Our Golf Clubs is here to teach the beginner about the game of golf. We provide inside information in our blogs, as well as offering tips and reviews. We hope to be your resource for everything golf-related as you improve in your game. 

In this article, we are going to go in-depth on how golf is scored. From hole one to eighteen, we will cover it all! 

The Goal Of Golf

a golf scoresheet is an easy way to remember how golf is scored

The goal of golf is to hit a golf ball from a tee box to a green that has a hole. The golfer then wants to put the ball in the hole in the fewest strokes possible. 

A round of golf is played in this manner for 18 holes. You want to get the ball in the hole with the fewest strokes across all 18 holes over your opponent. 

There are three scoring systems for golf: match play, stroke play, and the Stableford system.

  • Match Play– Play that is decided by holes won and lost. The one who wins the most holes wins the game. 
  • Stroke Play- Decided by the total number of strokes taken during the game. The one with the fewest strokes is the winner. 
  • Stableford Scoring– Scores are turned into points. The points are in relation to par. A point system determines the winner. 

Stroke Play

With stroke play, you are playing against everyone else, not just your partner. You count a stroke each time you swing the ball. You don’t track your score, your opponent does, but you do sign off on your score. 

Match Play

With match play, scores are recorded as holes are played. If you score four on a hole and your opponent has five, you win that hole. You only record the number of holes because each hole is a separate entity. Whoever wins the most holes wins the game. 

If you are having a tough time on the hole, you are allowed to pick the ball up and “concede.” You lose the hole and then start over on the next hole. 

How Golf is Scored: The Basics

how the golf is scored

Every hole has an assigned number of shots; this is called par. Par is the number of shots an average golfer should take to make the ball land in the hole. Holes are given a par 3, par 4, or par 5. 

For example, for a par 3, the golfer is expected to complete the shot in 3 strokes. This is accomplished by landing on the green in one shot and finishing in 2 putts

There are names if you take shots below or above par. For example, if you hit the ball one shot above par, it is called a bogey. If you’re two shots above par, you hit a double bogey. 

If you have one shot better than (below) par, it is called a birdie. Two shots better is an Eagle. Pars, birdies, and eagles are what you need to win the game and will help you win the most holes. 

To help with keeping score, pay attention to the number of strokes you are taking to complete the hole. That way, you won’t have to think back at the end of your shot. 

Everyone should write down the score for each hole to fairly keep the score. Some people handwrite the score on a shared scorecard. There are also apps now that you can use for scoring if you want to use a cell phone. 

Other Helpful Tips For Keeping Score

a male golfer using a golf scorecard

Many golfers have their opponent write down their score and vice-versa. You can ask to look to make sure they are documenting the score accurately. 

It is also important to avoid penalties. Penalties will increase your number of strokes. There are a few ways that you might earn a penalty:

  • Writing down an incorrect score on the scorecard: your penalty is equal to the strokes you shaved.
  • Grounding the club in a hazard: add two strokes.
  • Lost ball: add a stroke and drop another ball where you hit the last one.
  • Landing the ball in the water: add a stroke and hit again from where the last hit was.

Check the scorecard at the end and sign off on it to show that you also believe it is accurate.

Remember, you are counting how many strokes it took for the golfer to complete the course. If it is a par 70 course and the golfer took 75 strokes, they holed out at five over par. 

If it is a 70 par course and took the golfer 68 strokes, they finished two under par. As stated, the goal is to have fewer strokes than your opponent. 

Each course you play on should have a scorecard available to you, often with the course map printed on it. You are free to use an app or keep score on your own if you aren’t playing a tournament. The scorecard at the golf course should have each hole’s length and par for the hole. 

Are You Ready To Learn More Information About the Game of Golf?

Male golfer in white hat keeping score on his phone while sitting in a golf cart.

Now that you have learned how golf is scored, you are ready to test your skills on the greens! To learn more skills and tips, visit us at Our Golf Clubs for up-to-date information on the game.

It does not matter if you are a beginner or a professional. We have something for you on our blog, plus reviews and news on golf. Check us out today!

Luke Griffin

Luke is an avid weekend-warrior golfer from the East Coast who plays golf more than he cares to admit.

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