What Constitutes an Attested Golf Score?

By Joe Miegoc
A scorecard must have the marker's signature and that of the competitor.
A scorecard must have the marker's signature and that of the competitor.

The definition of the word "attest" is to certify as true, genuine. In golf, an attested score would be one returned to a competition committee with the signatures of the playing competitor and his marker, attesting that the score returned is complete and accurate and the score is what the player shot.

Use in Competition

An attested golf score illustrates the score a player shot in competition. The signature of a marker, or playing competitor, signifies the accuracy of the score to the committee and the remainder of the field.

But when attesting to a competitor's score in golf, that the player's score is accurate, a little caution might be in order.

Consequences of Improper Attesting

In the 1968 Masters, Robert DeVicenzo thought his final-round 67 tied Bob Goalby for the championship and earned him an 18-hole Monday playoff for the famed green jacket. In his excitement, DeVicenzo signed for his score and sat in a lounge chair behind the 18th green.

Then came the bad news. Playing competitor Tommy Aaron, keeping DeVicenzo's scorecard, had written in a four on the par-4 17th hole for DeVicenzo. But the Argentinian had actually made a birdie three on the hole. DeVicenzo, excited to have earned a playoff, missed the discrepancy when checking and attesting to his scorecard, so under the Rules of Golf he was given credit for the four, not the birdie.

The Masters Committee met to see if there was anything in the Rules of Golf that would allow the error to be taken into consideration, and allow DeVicenzo into a playoff. There was none; the par on 17 stood for DeVicenzo, he finished one shot short of a playoff and Goalby had his first, and as it turned out, only major championship.

DeVicenzo blamed himself, not Aaron, who, ironically, would win the 1973 Masters for his only major championship. In another irony, Aaron's playing competitor in the fourth round of the 1973 Masters, Johnny Miller, wrote in a higher score on a hole for Aaron in the fourth round, but Aaron caught the mistake.

"I am a stupid," DeVicenzo said at the time.

The Rule Book

Under the Rules of Golf, Rule 6-6b says, "Upon completion of the round, the competitor should check his score for each hole and settle any doubtful points with the Committee. He must ensure that the marker or markers have signed the scorecard, sign the scorecard himself and return it to the committee as soon as possible." Penalty is disqualification. Any score returned on a hole lower than the competitor shot results in disqualification; any score higher on a hole and the card stands as returned.

A card returned without one of the signatures also results in disqualification.

The player's playing competitor, or marker, attests the score as a means of protecting the field. In essence, they are saying yes, that's what he shot, we saw it and our signatures back up our roles as witnesses. Many events use scorekeepers walking with each playing group and keeping score, but they are unofficial and the playing competitors' attesting to the scores are official. No player keeps his own score.

Fun Fact

In the 1959 Women's Open at Winged Foot, an excited Jackie Pung, having won the championship, returned but did not sign her scorecard. After much anguish by the committee, she was disqualified. Sympathetic Winged Foot members then literally passed a hat and Pung received an amount in excess of the $7,500 winner's purse.

About the Author

Joe Miegoc is an experienced professional writer with a background in sports, political writing and public relations. He has worked in media for newspapers and in public relations with the United States Golf Association. His writing experience includes books, newspapers, national magazines and online publications. Miegoc holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from East Stroudsburg University.

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