Keeping score allows you to track your game to determine whether you are getting better with certain holes over time and if you need improvement on others. You can also compete against friends who are there for a game. If this is your first time keeping score, follow the following advice to ensure you are as accurate as possible.
Keeping Score for Stroke Play
Stroke play is where you are counting each stroke for every hole that is played. If you are alone for the day, you can keep track of your own score. Yet often the rule is that you keep track of your opponent’s score and your opponent will do the same for you. In other games, a person can be designated the official scorekeeper for everyone playing.
Write down the name of your opponent. When they are up to play, you count every stroke they make in the attempt to hit the ball. Even if they swing and miss, it is still considered a stroke. You will count the number of strokes they made for each hole. On the scorecard, you place the number beside their name and under the hole that was just played.
Hitting balls into the water and out of bounds are considered penalties. You also draw a penalty if you lose your ball. If the ball is hit into the water, it is a 1-stroke penalty that is added into the total number of strokes for that hole. Lost balls and balls that go out of bounds are 2-stroke penalties.
On the scorecard, you will see an “In” column header and an “Out” column header. Tally the total number of strokes for the first 9 holes in the Out column. The last nine holes are tallied and the total is placed under the In column. Take the In and Out columns and add them together to get the total number of strokes for the game.
Check Your Scores
Each person checks their scores that were kept by their opponents to look for inaccuracies. Then you sign your name on the opponent’s score card as well as your own. Make sure the score is accurate. Even though your opponent kept track of your strokes, you are held responsible if there is a mistake on your own score card.
Keeping Score for Match Game
Keeping scores for match games involves winning by the total number of strokes being less than your opponent’s strokes. So if you made two strokes on the first hole and your opponent made four strokes, you win that hole and are “one up”. You can also concede difficult holes to keep the golf game moving along for difficult holes. If you concede a hole, the opponent wins that hole and you start fresh on the next hole.
On the score card, you don’t mark down the number of strokes. Instead, you place in 1+ in the column for the played hole if the opponent wins that hole or a -1 if they lost the hole. For draws where both players have the same number of strokes, you write “AS” in the column.
The end of the match game is when one player has more holes won than there are holes left in the game, since the other opponent can’t win enough at that point. This is called the “four and three.” So if you are ahead by four holes versus your opponent, and there are only three holes left to play after the 15th hole, you win.