How to read a golf Scorecard.

Getting to grips with a golf scorecard is simple. If you’re getting ready to play golf right now and you’ve not got a scorecard to use, download our free scorekeeper which you can use to simply jot down your scores. (It’s a CSV file and editable, so you don’t need to download another app draining your battery.)

The golf scorecard explained

Seeing a golf scorecard for the first time can be quite intimidating but really, it’s simple to understand with a bit of instruction.

For this, we’ll use a scorecard at Ringway Golf Club in cheshire. A fantastic course for an ability golfer.

At first, it’s fairly basic stuff, you fill out the name of the competition and the date. Write out the players names in A – D with their handicaps and the top part is complete

The scorecard broken down

Hole Number

Pretty simple, the hole numbers usually range from 1 – 18 or from 1-9 for a 9 hole course. Most golf courses will have 18 holes, other shorter 9 hole courses can obviously be played twice to create an 18 hole experience.

There’s also a few courses out there that have 27 holes to mix things up even more.

The colour of the tees

Different golfers tee off at different tee boxed. The level of golfer you are determines which tee box you should tee off from.

Red tee Boxes

The red tee boxes are for beginner golfers, ladies, and juniors. If you’re a beginner golfer it’s vital that you’re teeing from the red boxes as you don’t want to be making things too difficult for yourself right from the start.

You’lll notice the distances of the red tees are the closest to the hole. In this case, the scorecard has separate stroke index (how hard the hole is on the course out of 18) so whilst some are same a lot are different.

This is important to note as the handicap of the golfer is taken in to account when scoring.

Yellow Tee Boxes

Yellow tees are in between the reds and the whites and offer golfers who’ve graduated from beginner level to something a bit more consistent.

White Tee Boxes

The white tees are for the better players, offering more of a challenge the distance between white and yellow isn’t normally massive, but it definitely makes it more of a challenge.

Blue Tee Boxes

Not on all courses, blue tees are for championship golf courses which adds an extra dimension in difficulty. Often way further back, blue tees are for the best players, play from them as an amateur and you’ll regret it.

Yardage - How far is each hole?

The yardage is numbered underneath the “white yards” etc titles.

Let’s look at the first 3 holes.

Hole 1 – 301 – 317 – 327
Hole 2 468 – 514 – 528

Hole 3 144 – 158 – 168

This is the perfect start as it’s got 3 holes for each par. A par three, four and five allows us to see the differences between the levels.

In hole 1, the difference is 26 yards in total from red to white, hole 2, it’s 60 yards and hole 3 it’s 24 yards.
Whilst some number’s might not seem too much more difficult, it’s not just the distance that makes it harder, it might also be a tighter angle meaning there’s less fairway to play your ball in to.

Par Of The Hole

The par is the expected number of shots that you should be getting the ball in the hole. But the isn’t exactly true because in golf we have whats called a handicap which you can read about in the next section.

Par 3 holes

Par 3 – Par 3’s can be incredibly difficult, a 3 is expected but you’ve shanked the ball and now you’ll be lucky to get on the green in three shots and probably a 2 or three putt to actually sink the ball.

The par 3 is all about accuracy and getting the ball on to the green.

Par 4 Holes

A par 4 is a strong driver / iron down the fairway then usually as 150 yard shot to the green.

Par 5 Holes

A par 5 needs a good strong first shot which allows the player to try to get an eagle. An eagle is 2 under par and if you can get your ball on the green with your second shot then you’re in with the chance of an eagle.

For others with less distance with is more common, the second shot is all about putting your ball in to a positon with the best lay up. It’s not necessarily about smashing the ball here, you might find it more beneficial to actually hit less of club.

For example, if the par 5 is 500 yards and you’ve hit the ball 250 yards on the first shot then you’re second you need to think about the third shot.

  • If you hit a 5 iron say 180 that will leave you 60 yards short.
  • If you hit 6 iron say 170 yards that will be 70 yards short.
  • If you hit 7 iron 160 yards that 80 yards short
  • If you hit a 8 iron 150 yards thats 90 yards short.

The reason we’ve included these 4 examples is, you might have a club in your bag that you know you can hit, 60 yards, 70 yards, 80 or 90 yards and by being smart in choosing which club to use, you can make the next shot easier.

This is all about course management and distance gapping which is a bit more technical but knowing how far your clubs hit will make playing golf a lot easier.

The handicap

Your handicap is a number based on your average scores over a certain number of rounds. The better the golfer to lower the handicap is and maximum of 28 is the norm.

To have a handicap you have to be part of a golf club and get your card signed by your playing partner.

To reduce your handicap you have to reduce your scores out on the course. One good round doesn’t lower it though just the same as one bad round doesn’t make it go higher. It’s all about the averages.

Signing the card, marker and player.

For your card to be official it must be signed by the marker and the player.

The Stroke Index

The stroke index is a number from 1-18 starting from 1 the hardest to 18 the easiest. This is to work together with the handicap.
Let’s say you’re an 18 handicap then you’ve got 1 shot extra on each hole. A 20 handicapper would have the same 18 extra shots plus an extra two which would be used on stroke index holes 1 and 2.

So in this case, looking at the scorecard if you’ve got a handicap of 20, holes that would be the 6th hole or 15th for beginners and 7th and 15th from the yellow or white tees.


The Golfschool

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