How Golf Scoring Works – Easy Guide

golf balls

For many new golf players, whether they are teeing off for the first time, or playing Golf on PGA Tour 2k21, golf scoring can be very confusing. Why did I not win the golf tournament even though I have the “highest” score, +15? In this article, you will learn that, in golf, the lowest score is actually the best score. You will also learn all about golf scoring terminology, making you confident about golf rules while you are out playing.

How Golf Scoring Works

Down below, you will learn how golf scoring works before, during, and after completing a golf course.

How Golf Scoring Works Before Starting A Golf Course

Golf scoring is a lot simpler than it initially looks to beginners.

First of all, you will need to download & print a golf scorecard on which to inscribe how many shots you take per golf hole. If you are playing a standard 9-hole or 18-hole golf course, click here to download our custom golf scorecard.

Next, the main thing you need to know about golf scoring is that to win, overall, you need to take less shots than all of your opponents for the golf course. Cumulatively, for all 9 or 18 holes on the golf course, you need to take less shots than the other players if you want to win.

Therefore, to win a golf tournament or beat all the other players, you need to have the lowest golf score. Having a lower golf score implies that you took less shots to complete the golf course.

How Golf Scoring Works During A Golf Course

At the beginning of a golf course, take out your Sportsruby Scorecard, and write down your name in the players section.

When you start a golf hole, look on your course guide, or at the par sign to note the par number of the hole. The par number is usually a number between 2 and 6. Take out your SportsRuby Scorecard, and write down the par number in the corresponding par section for that hole.

For every golf hole you play, count the number of shots you take until you pot the ball in the golf hole. After potting the ball, take out your SportsRuby Scorecard, and write down the number of shots you took to complete that hole in the corresponding square.

Keep doing counting and noting the amount of shots you take for each hole, until you get to the end of the golf course, usually 9 or 18 holes.

If you shoot a golf ball out of bounds, you count that missed shot, and you add an extra missed shot to your shot total for the current golf hole, before placing a new golf ball at the same position you shot your missed shot from.

If you shoot a golf ball into a water hazard, or out of bounds, you will take a one shot penalty, and need to reset. A one stroke penalty, or one shot penalty, simply means that you will add an additional missed shot to your shot total.

How Golf Scoring Works After Completing A Golf Course

When you are finally done completing the golf course, and your row of shot totals for each holes is filled up, it is time to compare with the par numbers.

For each you, take the number of shots you took and subtract the par number for that hole from the amount of shots you took; this is your score for that hole.

For example, if on golf hole #1, you took 5 shots to complete a par 3 hole, your score is 5 – 3 = +2, meaning you took 2 shots more than par.

Calculate your differential score for each hole like for the example just given, and you will end up with 9 or 18 different golf scores, one for each hole. Finally, add up all of these differential scores, and you will end up with your final differential hole that you can compare to the scores of your opponents.

For example, for a 9 hole golf course, if your scores are the ones in the following table:

sportsruby example 9 hole golf scorecard
Example Scorecard for 9 Holes

Your individual differential scores would be +0, +1, +1, +1, +2, +0, +1, -1, -1, for a total score of +4.

You can finally write your overall score on your Sportsruby Scorecard, and compare with your friends and opponents to see who won the tournament. The lowest score wins.

Golf Scoring Terminology

What is Par in Golf?

In golf, the par is the expected number of shots an advanced golf player would need to complete a given hole.

In golf, your score is calculated by comparing the number of shots you took for a given golf hole with the par number for that same hole.

For example, if you needed 4 shots to pot a golf ball in a par 3 hole, your score for that hole would be 4 – 3 = +1. In golf, a negative score is better than a positive score.

Look below at the image of a par plaque.

par plaque
Par Plaque (the Par is 4 in this example)

As you can see in the image above, there should be some kind of sign near the start of any golf hole. This sign will tell you some distance measurements from the beginning to the end of the hole, as well as the par number.

What is a Hole-In-One in Golf?

A Hole-In-One is the name given to the act of potting a golf ball into the hole with only one shot, starting from the tee. A Hole-In-One is nearly impossible to perform in golf.

In mini-golf, Hole-In-Ones are a lot more common.

What is a Birdie in Golf?

A Birdie is the name given to the act of taking one less shot to complete a golf hole than the number of shots indicated by the par number.

For example, taking 2 shots to complete a par 3 hole would be a birdie, and your score for the hole would be 2 – 3 = -1.

What is an Eagle in Golf?

An Eagle is the name given to the act of taking two less shots to complete a golf hole than the number of shots indicated by the par number.

For example, taking 2 shots to complete a par 4 hole would be an eagle, and your score for the hole would be 2 – 4 = -2.

What is an Albatross in Golf?

An Albatross is the name given to the act of taking three less shots to complete a golf hole than the number of shots indicated by the par number.

For example, taking 2 shots to complete a par 5 hole would be an Albatross, and your score for the hole would be 2 – 5 = -3.

An Albatross is a very rare occurrence in golf.

What is a Condor in Golf?

A Condor is the name given to the act of taking four fewer shots to complete a golf hole than the number of shots indicated by the par number.

For example, taking 2 shots to complete a par 6 hole would be a condor, and your score for the hole would be 2 – 6 = -4.

A Condor is an extremely rare occurrence in golf.

What is a Bogey in Golf?

A Bogey is the name given to the act of taking one more shot to complete a golf hole than the number of shots indicated by the par number.

For example, taking 4 shots to complete a par 3 hole would be a Bogey, and your score for the hole would be 4 – 3 = +1.

What is a Double Bogey in Golf?

A Double Bogey is the name given to the act of taking two more shots to complete a golf hole than the number of shots indicated by the par number.

For example, taking 5 shots to complete a par 3 hole would be a Double Bogey, and your score for the hole would be 5 – 3 = +2.

What is a Triple Bogey in Golf?

A Triple Bogey is the name given to the act of taking three more shots to complete a golf hole than the number of shots indicated by the par number.

For example, taking 6 shots to complete a par 3 hole would be a Triple Bogey, and your score for the hole would be 6 – 3 = +3.

Conclusion

There you go! After reading this article, you should have a good grasp at how golf scoring works, how to fill a Scorecard, and golf terms that are commonly used in golf scoring terminology.

We wish you a pleasant time playing golf, and many, many wins to come.

Do you understand how golf scoring works now? Are there any questions this article has not answered? Let us know in the comments down below!