Rules for Golf Scoring

By Steve Silverman
Golfers should keep their opponent's or fellow competitor's score.
Golfers should keep their opponent's or fellow competitor's score.

There are two basic methods of scoring in golf. One way to score golf is keeping a running total throughout an 18-hole round and counting all the strokes. This is called stroke, or medal, play. Golfers can also compete in match play. In method, a golfer gets a point for winning a hole, loses a point for a lost hole and gets a half point for a tied hole, called "halving" the hole. The match is over when one golfer has more points than holes remaining.

Stroke Play

In stroke play, the score is kept cumulatively. A golfer writes the score for each hole in the designated spot on the scorecard. The scorekeeper, also known as the marker, keeps score for his fellow competitor, who must then sign, or attest, the score at the end of the round. In a casual game, golfers will often designate one person to keep the score for all.

Match Play

In match play, each hole counts as one point. If golfer A shoots a 5 on the first hole and golfer B records an 8, golfer A is plus 1. If golfer B gets a 3 on the second hole and golfer A gets a 4, the match is even. It does not matter that golfer A had a bigger advantage in his winning hole than golfer B. The winner of the match is determined as soon as one golfer is ahead by more holes than those remaining. If a golfer is 3 holes ahead going into the 15th hole and he wins that hole, he is 4 holes ahead with just three holes to play. In this case, he wins the match 4 and 3, meaning he was up four holes with three to play. If golfers are even after 18 holes, they continue to play until one golfer beats the other on an extra hole.


Amateur charity tournaments are often played with a format called a "scramble" or "captain and crew." Golfers in groups of four play as a team. Each golfer hits a drive on the first hole. Everybody in the group picks up their shot and moves it to where the best shot in the group lies. Everybody hits their second shot from there and again picks the best shot. The same procedure takes place on all ensuing shots until the golfers the ball is in the hole. The team with the lowest score wins.

About the Author

Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images
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