Computing Golf Scores

By Jim Thomas
Golfers check their score card to make sure it is correct.
Golfers check their score card to make sure it is correct.

Computing your golf score is an easy task, in part because the most fundamental rules of golf have remained the same for centuries. The first 13 rules were drawn up in England in 1744. Rules in America were adopted in 1900. In 1951, the R & A, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in Scotland, and the USGA, the United States Golf Association, decided to issue a uniform set of rules, which are followed around the world and updated regularly. As far as scoring is concerned, the basic rule -- with a few exceptions -- is to count up the number of strokes you take and write down the total on each hole.

Count up each stroke you take on a hole and write that number down on the scorecard. Each effort to strike the ball counts as one stroke. For example, if on one hole you strike the ball six times and miss the ball with two swings intended to strike the ball, your score on the hole is 8.

Add penalty strokes that you incur on a hole. If you hit the ball in a water hazard and incur a one stroke penalty, you must add that stroke to the number of times you strike the ball to determine your score on the hole.

Calculate your total score for the round by simply adding up the strokes for each individual hole. If you are playing an opponent under medal rules, the person who takes the lowest number of total strokes is the winner.

Total the number of individual holes won by each player to identify the overall winner in match play. For example, if you score a 4 and your opponent scores a 5 on the first hole, you win the hole and are "1 up." If you score a 4 and your opponent scores a 15 on the first hole, the result is the same, you are 1 up. So it is possible to win in match play by shooting an overall higher score while winning more holes than your opponent.

About the Author

Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.

Photo Credits

  • Matthew Lewis/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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