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of Golf Scores

The scoring system in golf is different than that of most sports, where the higher score is the winner. In golf, success is determined by the lower score, or the fewest number of shots taken on the hole or in the round.

Each course has a designated number, known as par, that represents the score a skillful golfer would shoot.

Furthermore, each hole on a course, typically nine holes or 18 holes, has its own par score. A course's par score is the sum of the par scores for each of the holes.

Overall scoring

Each hole has a designated par score. Par is the number of shots considered an even score. For example, a par-5 hole requires the golfer to hit five shots from the tee box to the cup in order to attain a par score. The par score for most 18-hole golf courses ranges from 70 to 72, and typically includes a majority of par-4 holes. The remaining holes are par-3 or par-5 holes. Scoring in golf tournaments typically is based on stroke play, in which every shot counts as one stroke. A player's score often is expressed in terms of the number of strokes under, even with or over the par score. A golfer who shoots a score of 65 on a par-72 course is seven under par, or minus-seven. A golfer who shoots an 80 is eight over par, or plus-eight.

A golfer who scores a 72, par for the course, is even. It's better to be under par than over par, but the score may be relative to your level of competition or your personal goals.


As mentioned in Section 1, a par score is attained when a golfer completes a hole in the number of strokes listed on the course scorecard.

For example a par-4 hole requires a golfer to finish the hole in four shots to attain par. Par-3 holes usually are shorter holes on which golfers can hit the tee shot onto the green.

Conversely, a par-5 hole might require three or four shots to reach the green. The U.S. Golf Association issued the following yardage guidelines, as of 2010, for determining the par score of a hole: par 3, up to 250 yards (men), up to 210 yards (women); par 4, 251 yards to 470 yards (men), 211 yards to 400 yards (women); par 5, 471 yards to 690 yards (men), 401 yards to 590 yards (women).


A birdie is a score one stroke less than par.

Birdies can be achieved on any hole, but often are made on par-4 and par-5 holes. A par-3 hole provides a tougher test because it requires the golfer to get the ball into the hole in two shots.


An eagle is a score in which a golfer completes a hole in two fewer shots than par. In most cases, eagles occur on par-4 or par-5 holes.

Double Eagle

A double eagle, or albatross, is when a golfer completes a par-5 hole in two shots.

A golfer would have to drive the ball from the tee and on the second shot hit the ball into the hole. An albatross is a rare achievement in golf.


A hole-in-one occurs when a golfer holes the ball on the tee shot. The hole-in-one happens most often on par-3 holes, as the distance from tee to green may be manageable for many golfers.

Occasionally, golfers will record a hole-in-one on a shorter (about 300 yards) par 4. A hole-in-one is considered official when a witness can verify the score.


A bogey is the term used to express a score of one shot over par. Accordingly, a score of two shots over par is a double bogey, three over par is a triple bogey, and four over par is a quadruple bogey.

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Golf Competitions and how they are played

These notes are only intended to assist in the general concept of how various competitions are played. They must be read in conjunction with the Rules of Golf and in particular the Committee shall lay down the conditions under which a competition shall be played (Rule 33).

STROKE (Medal) The score at each hole is entered on the score card, totalled and the player’s full handicap deducted. The player who completes the stipulated round in the fewest net strokes will be the winner. Usually a gross winner is also determined.

PAR In Par play the score is entered on the card in the same way as in stroke play with the exception that where the score exceeds par for the hole, after allowing for handicap stroke (if the player is in receipt of one) the score need not be written in. It is the custom that when a player is beaten by Par, the ball shall be picked up. This helps speed up play.
After entering the stroke score on the card, the result is marked in the column provided with a ‘+’ sign for a win, a ‘0’ for a half, a ‘-‘ for a loss. At the end of the round the plus and minus signs are added and the net result written is as so many ‘up’ ‘down’ or ‘all square’. A player is allowed his full stroke handicap and the strokes are taken at holes as indicated on the card. Where the handicap is more than 18, two strokes will be allowed on the number of holes that the handicap exceeds 18. These strokes will be taken in the same order as followed for the first 18 holes unless the index goes beyond 18.

STABLEFORD This system of scoring by points was introduced by Dr Frank Stableford of the Wallasey Golf Club (Liverpool, England) in 1932, and has become very popular. The popular method of playing a stableford competition is for the player to take strokes at holes as in a par competition using full handicap and to score points for the net result at each hole. At the end of the round all points scored are added up and the player having the highest number of points is the winner. In scoring after allowing for handicaps, a player who scores par receives 2 points, for 1 over par 1 point, for a birdie or 1 under par 3 points, for an eagle or 2 under par 4 points, and so on. For example, a player receiving a stroke on a par 4 hole scores 4 giving a net 3 strokes; for this he receives 3 points. A player at a par 3 hole scores a 4 but does not receive a stroke; for this he would receive 1 point.

FOUR-BALL PAR Two players play as partners each taking strokes at holes as in a par competition. If one of the partners wins a hole and the other halves it, only the win is counted. If one halves a hole with par and the other loses it only the half is counted and so on. Plus, half and minus signs are added at the end of the round and recorded as in ordinary par competition. In a four-ball handicap event care must be taken to mark the scores of each player in separate columns headed by the initials of the player. If the scores are mixed and it is impossible for the Committee to check the card the players will be disqualified.

FOUR-BALL STABLEFORD Played in exactly the same manner as above except the better ball of the partnership will be credited with points instead of plus, half or minus.

FOURSOME Two players play as partners and use one ball. The partners strike off alternately from the tee and thereafter strike the ball alternately during the play of each hole. Scoring is done as for a stroke round and the total is subject to a deduction of half the players aggregate handicaps. Note: if either player incurs a penalty stroke it does not alter the rotation of play. In a foursome stroke play competition which consists of more than one stipulated round the order of play may be changed between rounds unless the committee has laid down as a condition of play that the original order of play must be preserved throughout the competition.

GENERAL All the foregoing competitions are forms of stroke play and subject to the rules governing stroke play. Special rules for Par and Stableford competitions are set out in Rule 32. Rule 31 covers the special rules for four ball Par and Stableford competitions. Foursomes may be played under either stroke play rules or match play conditions and Rule 29 is relevant to foursomes events. In addition to the competitions listed above, many clubs conduct competitions which are not specifically covered in the rules of golf. Some of the more popular types of play are listed below together with suggestions regarding methods of conducting these events. It cannot be too strongly emphasized however, that since these competitions are not covered by the rules of golf, the committee must carefully lay down in advance and publish the conditions of play. The State association will not, except in the most exceptional circumstances, give a decision on any query submitted when play is conducted otherwise that in accordance with the rules.

MIXED FOUR-BALL PAR OR STABLEFORD These games are played as described previously except that the lady plays from her own tees, using her own scorecard, local rules etc. The result is only transferred to her partners card when her score for the hole is better than his. Care must be taken when checking the card to refer to the ladies card when dealing with holes halved or won by her. There are some variations to this depending on the Club. In some instances the lady plays on her full handicap using the ladies card as described above, in other cases, on 7/8 handicap, using the ladies card. Again, she may be on full handicap and using the men’s card. There are also exceptional instances where ladies play from ¾ handicap and the men’s card is used. These last two methods are the least satisfactory.

MIXED FOURSOMES Mixed foursomes are played in the same manner as foursomes except that the ladies use their own tees and observe their own local rules when it is their turn to play. The committee should lay down as a condition of play whether the male or female is required to play from the first tee, and in competitions played under stroke conditions, and consisting of more than one stipulated round whether this order is to be preserved.

AUSSIE SIX PACK This competition is played under 4 Ball Best Ball stableford rules. Holes 1 to 6 the team’s best score is recorded, Holes 7 to 12 the aggregate score of both players is recorded and Holes 13 to 18 the score of both players is multiplied and recorded on scorecard. The total score for the team is the addition of all scores
FOUR PERSON ACCUMULATOR Played by teams of three or four players under stableford scoring format For teams of four players, scoring is as follows Holes 1 to 6 best individual score is recorded Holes 7 to 11 best 2 scores are recorded Holes 12 to 15 best 3 scores are recorded Holes 16 to 18 all 4 scores are recorded Team’s total score is the additions of all scores For teams of three players, scoring is as follows Holes 1 to 8 best individual score is recorded Holes 9 to 14 best two scores are recorded Holes 15 to 18 all scores are recorded The team’s total score is determined by the addition of all scores multiplied by 1.25
AMBROSE (SCRAMBLE) COMPETITION This event is a novelty event and thus the event organisers may waive or modify some of the
general rules of golf.
This is a team stroke event and is usually played by a group of two, three, or four, but can be any number. Each player plays a tee shot at each hole. The designated Captain of the group then selects the best drive from which to play the next shot. A marker is placed within 15cm of the selected ball and then the ball is played by its owner as it lies before other players in the group play their shot. Upon retrieving their balls, the other members in turn, and in any order, place their ball within one club length of the marker, not closer to the hole, but in the same course condition as the selected ball was in (i.e. grass cut to fairway height, rough, bunker, hazard, etc.).
When on the green, the position of the ball is marked and all players may play, in any order, from within one club head length of the selected ball spot.
This event can be played as a gross event with each group having a spread of handicaps, or as a handicap event, where a fraction of the aggregate handicap is used. A popular handicap system for groups of four is 1/8 of the aggregate handicap, for groups of three 1/6 of the aggregate handicap, and for groups of two ¼ of the aggregate handicap. This competition is often called, or is known as, a “Scramble” event.
The event organisers may also specify that a certain minimum number of tee shots must be selected from each player in the group and that the number may depend upon the size of the group (i.e. 3 drives per person for a group of 4, 4 drives per person for a group of three, 5 drives per person for a group of two). Penalty for non compliance of the rules as set out by the organising committee will be team disqualification.

“Pinehurst Foursomes” Both players play tee shots at each hole, then play second stroke with their partner’s ball. One ball is then selected and play proceeds as in foursomes with the owner of the ball selected playing the third stroke. Handicap allowance is 3/8 of aggregate stroke handicap for stroke competitions.

AUSTRALIAN COUNT-BACK SYSTEM Deciding Ties in events: Ties in events shall be decided whenever possible by replay but if the committee considers this to be inexpedient the following count-back method shall be used: • For 18 hole events the best score for the last nine holes shall be used; if there is still a tie the last 6 holes or if still ties the last 3 holes. If a tie still persists then hole by hole from the 18th . • In 27, 36, 54 and 72 hole events the last 18 holes shall be used and if still tied countback as in 1. above • In handicap events the relative handicap or fraction thereof shall be applied. Notes: • For a 9 hole event the best score for the last 6 holes shall be used, if there is still a tie the last 3 holes, if a tie still persists then hole by hole from the 9th hole. • In all cases the last holes are as per the score card, not necessarily as played. Local Rules. To be read in conjunction with rules of golf

OUT OF BOUNDs Those areas beyond the boundary fences. The car parking area including associated kerbing and gutter

HAZARDS Water hazards are defined by yellow stakes and/or lines. Lateral Water Hazards are defined by red stakes and/or lines. Note: The stakes are immovable obstructions

GROUND UNDER REPAIR All areas defined by white stakes and/or lines. The practice putting greens near the club house. All ornamental gardens All ant hills which are not readily removable. Note: The stakes are immovable obstructions.

STAKE TREES OR SHRUBS If a tree or shrub which is staked interferes with the player's stance or area of intended swing the player MUST take relief as provided in Rule 24-2b(i) (immovable obstruction) Note: The stakes are immovable obstructions

FIXED SPRINKLER HEADS AND TAP COVERS These are immovable obstructions and relief from interference by them may be obtained under Rule 24.2. Local Rule In addition, if a ball, which is not in a hazard, lies within 2 club lengths of an immovable obstruction that is within 2 club lengths of the putting green and the obstruction interferes with the line of play to the hole, the player may take relief without penalty. Access roads and cart paths Through the green All paths, access roads and any area that has been top dressed with sand or soil, excluding divots, may be treated as ground under repair (GUR). A player may proceed in accordance with the rules of golf

PEANALTY FOR BREACH OF LOCAL RULE Matchplay Loss of hole Stroke play 2 strokes PIN PLACEMENTS Red Flags Front White Flag - Centre Yellow and Black Flag - Back

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Subpages (4): 4BBB Par Stableford Stroke