Have you ever looked at a scorecard and wondered what all those numbers were?
There is no shortage of numbers listed on a golf scorecard.
Some of the numbers and information are very important for your game and others you will never use.
In this guide, we will explain to you all of the things on a scorecard and how to read it correctly.
Scorecards will differ from one golf course to the next, but they will all have some things in common.
How To Read A Golf Scorecard
Reading a golf scorecard is not difficult as long as you understand the different parts of the scorecard and what they are.
Here are the most important things to consider when looking at a scorecard.
You will notice a section usually on the side with a large box.
This box is intended to put the player’s name.
Sometimes within that player name box, there will also be a spot to put the player’s handicap.
Putting the player’s handicap can be necessary if there are matches taking place with one player competing against another.
Along the top of the card, you will probably see a line that will describe each hole.
The holes will show number one through eighteen.
Each hole will have yardages listed.
The yardages are going to vary based on the tee locations.
The farthest tees back are going to come first, and then it will work down towards the shortest tees.
Many golf courses will have four or five sets of tees.
In addition to the yardages being listed for each hole, you will notice that the par is listed as well.
Golf holes are going to have a par three, par four or par five.
This is the number of shots that it should take you to get the ball in the hole.
Now that you understand the yardages and the par, you will also sometimes see the box HDCP listed for each hole.
Each one will have a number from one to eighteen.
The number one handicap hole is the hardest hole on the golf course.
The number eighteen handicap hole is the easiest hole on the golf course.
You will notice that the women’s handicap and the men’s handicap will likely be different.
Most of the time, women’s handicaps will be based on distance alone, where there may be some other calculations involved with men’s handicaps.
These holes are rated by golf course raters from the united states golf association.
Just because a hole is rated the number one handicap hole does not mean it will be the hardest for you.
However, it would help if you had these handicaps when playing in a match and allocating strokes.
Another thing that you will see on a scorecard is the slope and the rating of the course.
The slope and the rating are both numbers that have to do with the difficulty of the golf course.
To understand how this works, you first need to know what they mean.
Luckily the amateur golfer is not going to need to deal with the slope and rating all that much during a typical round of golf.
The slope is a rating as to how challenging the golf course is for a bogey golfer.
A bogey golfer is someone who should around ninety for an eighteen-hole round.
The slope of a golf course is going to be anywhere from 55 to 155.
The average slope rating is going to be right around 115.
If you happen to struggle at a golf course where the slope is 145, it may merely be because it is a challenging golf course.
The rating of the golf course is the average difficulty for a player that is a scratch golfer.
The rating of a golf course is usually going to be very close to the par of the course.
Much closer than the slope number.
You will notice that if the course rating is around 68 or so, the golf course will be straightforward compared to a course with a rating of 75.
When you start getting good at golf and keep track of all of your scores, the rating and slope will affect the handicap.
Both of the numbers are going to be incorporated into an individual player’s handicap.
You may see the words in and out on a scorecard.
These are the names for the two nines on the golf course.
Out is the front nine, and in is the back nine.
You may have to put your totals for the two nine holes in the two boxes labeled In and Out.
Some golf scorecards are very basic designs, and others will have quite a bit of detail.
The basic cards may just give you the yardage, the hole numbers, and the ability to put in the score.
The more advanced scorecards will give you a hole layout of each hole.
The hole layout will give you a general idea of where the green is if there are any sand traps or water hazards.
Most of these layouts are going to be very small, and they will probably not show any yardages, but it can give you a good general idea.
There could be a hidden bunker in the middle of the fairway that you can’t see from the tee box.
The course layout on the card will help give you an advantage from playing the hole blindly.
Instead of a hole layout, some golf courses will give a small picture of each green.
The green will be divided into three or four sections.
Each of the sections will be numbered.
The numbered sections refer to different pin placement locations.
Then before you tee off, the golf course will let you know which number pin placement it is for the day.
Then when you arrive on each hole, you will look at your scorecard to see where the pin is in correlation to the full size of the green.
Many amateur players don’t realize how large of a difference there is from the front of some greens to the back.
If your yardage says that you have 150 yards to the center of the green, it may only be 140 to the front, and it could be 160 to the back.
This would be the difference between hitting an eight iron or six iron.
If you want to get close to the hole, knowing where the pin is placed is very important.
A golf course can be played from many different locations.
One of the things you will notice on the golf scorecard is the information about each of the different tees.
Traditionally the blue tees were the pro tees, the white tees were the men’s tees, and the red was the women’s tees.
This has changed quite a bit in recent years, and there are many different colors tees.
Some golf courses will choose tee colors based on the logo and branding of the golf course.
Some courses won’t use colors, but they will just name the tees.
Make sure that when you are looking at the yardages for each hole that you are choosing the one for the yardage, you are playing with.
If you look where the totals are for your golf game, you may notice a box that says net or net score.
This box is used when you are playing in a match that allows you to use your handicap.
For instance, if a golfer shoots 100 but is a 20 handicap, their net score is going to be 80.
This is not a box that you will be using all that often unless you are playing in a match or a tournament with handicapping.
The totals column is where you would put the score of all the individual holes added together.
There are enough spots on most scorecards that you can fit four total players’ scores.
At the bottom of your scorecard, you may see a section for a signature.
This section is usually labeled “scorer.”
The scorer is the person who is keeping score.
Usually, one or two players in the group of four are going to be designated as the scorekeeper.
When the round is finished, the scorecard is signed by the scorer and submitted to the person running a tournament or submitted to the handicapping committee at a private club.
In the other section at the bottom of the scorecard will be a section that says attest.
The attest is the person who verifies the score.
They will check the results that the scorer has with the results that they had to make sure that everything matches.
When the scorer and the attest both sign the scorecard, then it becomes official.
Again these are things that are only going to matter during a tournament or official play.
You may see a note on the scorecard that talks about local rules.
Local rules are some rules that are specific to the particular golf course you are playing.
The USGA rules of golf will still be in place, but these will be in addition to that.
The local rules sometimes have to do with unique situations on the golf course or special maintenance or etiquette procedures that you must follow.
You should always check the scorecard before you play to make sure that you are following all local rules.
Here are some that you may commonly see on your card . . .
- Play ready golf and maintain the pace of play
- Keep carts on the path around the greens and tees
- No carts on par three fairways
- All fences are out of bounds
- Out of bounds are marked by white stakes
- Please repair all ball marks
- Replace divots in fair or use sand and seed solution on the cart
- No personal coolers on the golf course
- Free drop from any electrical boxes found on the golf course
- Yardage markers are measured to the center of the green
What do the Handicap Numbers mean on a Golf Scorecard?
We mentioned that you would see the handicap numbers on the golf scorecard, but it can be essential to know what they mean.
The handicap is used to help golfers play matches against other players with differing handicaps.
If your handicap is a ten and you are playing against someone who is a scratch golfer, there will be ten shots between you.
The lower handicap player will have to “give” the higher handicap player ten shots for their match to be even.
If both players end up playing to their handicap, then the match would be even.
Those ten shots are to be given on the first ten handicap holes.
For instance, on the number one handicap hole, the ten handicaps could score a five, and the scratch could score a four, and they would be even for that hole.
You can use the handicaps for match or stroke play.
One of the best things about handicaps is that it makes it possible for golfers of all handicap levels.
A new golfer can play against someone who has been playing for many years, and the match itself can still be competitive.
When people say that golf is a lifelong game, this is partly why.
What does Index mean on a golf scorecard?
An index is an indicator of how good a golfer is.
The Index is similar to the course handicap.
Indexes are interchangeable from one golf course to the next.
They can then be converted to the Course Handicap for that golf course.
You can usually use the GHIN computer inside the golf course clubhouse to convert your Index to a course handicap for the course you play.
How do you read a slope on a golf scorecard?
The slope on a scorecard is an indication of how challenging the golf course is for a bogey golfer.
The slope will just be a single number on the scorecard.
The higher the slop, the more difficult the golf course is.
The range for slope will be 55 to 155.
The average slope for a course is 113.
If you are playing at a golf course where your slope is very high, you may have higher scores, but your handicap may be lower than some other golfers that play easier golf courses.
If you continually play an easy golf course, you will have to shoot quite low to get an excellent handicap index.
What does HCP mean on a Golf Scorecard?
You will see several abbreviations used on a scorecard.
One of them is HCP which can stand for handicap.
You may also see HDCP used and that still means handicap.
There are a few other abbreviations you may come across.
For instance you may see TOT in reference to the totals.
If you see IN it usually means the back nine of the golf course.
If you see OUT, it usually means the front nine of the golf course.
Sometimes you will notice Handicap (M) or Handicap (W).
The men and the w will refer to men and women.
As we mentioned, the handicap and sometimes even the par will vary for men and women.
What is the size of a golf scorecard?
The size of a golf course is going to vary from one course to another.
A small-town golf course may only have a set of men’s tees and ladies tees, and they don’t need to record many numbers or yardages on their card.
This would result in a smaller scorecard size.
Then there are championship-style golf scorecards where there are many golf tees and local rules, and course layouts will get much more extensive.
The standard size scorecard is usually 5 x 8.
The larger courses with more tees are using cards that are 6 x 8.
Some courses that have 27 or 36 holes may use a 5 x 12 or 6 x 12 size.
Courses with several nines may give the golfer a scorecard with information on all of the nine-hole courses.
Then before they tee off, they will be instructed as to which golf course to play.
What do circles and squares represent in golf?
Some people get very into the scoring part of golf.
You will notice there is always one person in the group that takes the scoring of the game quite seriously.
The scorecard will likely be perfect and have lots of different markings on it.
If a score on a golf scorecard is circled, it means that it was a birdie.
If the score has a box around it, then it is a bogey.
There is no reason to do this on a scorecard other than a quick way to look and see how above or below par a person is.
You will often see this when you are watching golf on television.
Sometimes if there is a double-bogey, they will put two boxes around the score.
You may also notice that if there is an eagle, they will put two circles around it.
Some golfers also like to keep track of the putts on their scorecard.
You may notice that they will split a box in half and putt down both the score and the number of putts.
Keeping track of putts can be very insightful.
The more putts you have, the harder it is to shoot low.
Putting is one of the quickest ways to help improve your scores.
Should Golfers Keep Score Every Time?
Once you have an established handicap, you should keep track of your score each time you play.
If you have a good or a bad round, your handicap will take the round and incorporate it accordingly.
However, before you have a handicap established, you do not necessarily need to keep score each time you go out to play.
For beginner golfers, it can be beneficial not to keep score.
You should work on hitting good shots and taking fewer putts; it is not necessary to know if you shot 117 or 121.
Once you start shooting 110 or less, than it makes more sense to keep score.
A golf scorecard is jam-packed with a ton of information.
You may not need all of the information on the card each round you play, but it certainly can be helpful to know it is there.
You should review the entire scorecard before your round.
This way, if there is any type of helpful information, you will see it and know how to work with it.
If you are new to the game of golf, you may want to let someone else in the group keep track of scoring so that you don’t get overwhelmed.
Collecting the scores of the entire group after each hole takes some getting used to.