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How to Keep Score in Golf

Keeping score in golf using the stroke play method is relatively simple, but it's important to understand the concept of handicap as well. In stroke play, the goal is to complete each hole in the fewest number of strokes possible. Each player's score is recorded for each hole, and the total number of strokes for the entire round is calculated at the end. 

Handicap comes into play to level the playing field between players of different skill levels. It is a measure of a golfer's potential ability, and is used to adjust each player's final score. The handicap is subtracted from each player's total score at the end of the round to determine the net score.

When keeping score, it's essential to accurately record scores on a scorecard for each hole. Using an app such as 18Birdies will help streamline the scoring process to keep you focused on the course. Keeping track of your scores and stats has never been easier!

At the end of the round, simply add up the total number of strokes for each player, and then subtract their handicap to calculate the net score. The player with the lowest net score is the winner.

Understanding stroke play, handicap, and accurately recording scores on a scorecard is crucial for successful golf scoring.


Golf Pars and Scoring

Understanding pars and scoring is essential for any golfer looking to improve their game. From knowing the target score for each hole to understanding how to keep track of your own score, these fundamental principles of the game are key to success on the course.

In golf, a par is the predetermined number of strokes that a skilled golfer should require to complete a hole. The par for each hole varies depending on its length and difficulty, with most holes being either par 3, par 4, or par 5. Knowing the par for each hole is crucial for setting realistic expectations and planning your strategy for playing the course.

Planning your round in an app like 18Birdies will help you know the pars and allow you to find the best game plan for your next round. Scoring in golf is relatively simple, with each stroke counting towards your total score for the round. The objective is to complete the course in as few strokes as possible, with the lowest overall score being the winner. 

Keeping track of your score is important for assessing your performance, identifying areas for improvement, and monitoring your progress as a golfer. Understanding golf pars and scoring provides a solid foundation for enjoying and excelling at the game. 

By mastering these basic concepts, golfers can enhance their strategic approach, set realistic goals, and ultimately improve their overall performance on the course.

Stroke Play

In stroke play, recording the score on a scorecard is essential for keeping track of each player's performance throughout the round. As you make your way through the course, make sure to accurately record the number of strokes played on each hole. This includes keeping track of penalty strokes as well.

If you are playing against an opponent, it's important to write down their name on the scorecard and record their strokes for each hole as well. This ensures transparency and fairness in the scoring process. If necessary, you can designate an official scorekeeper to oversee the process and ensure accuracy.

At the end of the round, tally up the total number of strokes for each player to determine the winner. The player with the lowest total score is the winner of the stroke play competition. By following these simple steps and staying diligent with the scorecard, you can effectively keep track of the scores and determine the winner of the stroke play competition.

Match Play

Match play is a great format for golf that adds an element of strategic, head-to-head competition. In a match-play format, the golfer or team that wins the most holes during the round is declared the winner. To keep track of holes won, simply mark a point for yourself or your team on the scorecard after each hole that you win. 

If a player or team is "X holes up," it means they have won X more holes than their opponents. For example, if you are 3 holes up with only 2 holes left to play, you have won the match.

Players also have the option to concede a hole, which means they give up on that hole and allow their opponent to win it. This can be strategic if a player is already behind and wants to conserve their energy for the remaining holes. To determine the winner, simply count up the number of holes won by each player or team. The player or team with the most holes won at the end of the round is the winner. And that's all there is to it! 

Happy match playing!


Stableford is a popular scoring system in golf that rewards players for their performance on individual holes rather than their overall score. Points are awarded based on the number of strokes taken on each hole, with the goal being to accumulate the highest number of points throughout the round. The system was first introduced by Dr. Frank Stableford in 1931 as a way to make the game more enjoyable for players of all skill levels. It is widely used in casual and amateur competitions due to its simplicity and ability to speed up the pace of play.

In professional golf, Modified Stableford is often used, which applies a different point system to reflect the higher skill level of the players. Points are awarded based on the number of strokes taken relative to par, with an emphasis on achieving the highest point total.

Stableford has a rich history in the UK and has become a popular choice for club competitions. Its impact on the pace of play is significant, as it allows players to pick up their ball once they have reached a certain number of strokes and move on to the next hole, reducing the time it takes to complete a round.


Penalty Strokes

In professional golf, penalty strokes can be incurred for a number of different situations. Hitting a ball out of bounds, landing in a water hazard, losing a ball, and accidental infractions all result in penalty strokes. If a player hits a ball out of bounds, they will receive a one-stroke penalty and must replay the shot from the original position. 

Landing a ball in a water hazard also results in a one-stroke penalty, and the player has the option to either play the ball from where it entered the hazard or take a drop and play from a designated area, adding an extra stroke to their score.

Losing a ball will also incur a penalty stroke, and the player must return to the original spot and take a one-stroke penalty. 

Accidental infractions, such as moving the ball while addressing it or grounding a club in a hazard, can result in a one-stroke penalty as well. There are two-stroke penalties in some cases, such as hitting the wrong ball or taking an improper drop. 

These penalties can have a significant impact on a player's score and overall performance in a tournament. Keeping track of penalties is crucial for progress and a Golf Scorecard and GPS app like 18Birdies will help you record and analyze your stats today.


In golf, handicaps play a crucial role in leveling the playing field for players of different skill levels. To calculate a golfer's handicap, the first step is to determine their handicap index, which takes into account their recent scores and adjusts for the difficulty of the courses played. Once the handicap index is established, strokes are then assigned to each hole based on its difficulty, to allow players of varying abilities to compete on an equal footing. This ensures a fair and enjoyable experience for all participants. Apps like 18Birdies, while not an official handicap from the USGA can make the process of keeping track of your handicap and calculating net scoring much easier. 

The World Handicap System is an essential tool in this process, as it ranks the difficulty of each hole and determines the number of strokes a player receives based on their handicap index. This system provides a standardized method for calculating handicaps, making it easier for players to compete in different courses and tournaments.

Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro, understanding how handicaps work is essential for fair and competitive play in golf. By utilizing the handicap system, players can enjoy the game while accounting for skill disparities and ensuring a level playing field for all.



Below, you'll find answers to some of the common queries that we hear golfers frequently ask. 

If you can't find the information you're looking for, feel free to reach out to our customer service team for further assistance.

What is a good score in golf?

A good score in golf is not just about shooting below par but also takes into account the player's skill level and the difficulty of the golf course. While shooting below par is the standard benchmark for a good score, the number of birdies and improvement from previous rounds also contribute to a favorable score.

The skill level of the golfer is a key factor in determining a good score. A player with a higher skill level is expected to shoot lower scores than someone with less experience or skill. Additionally, the difficulty of the golf course plays a significant role in determining what constitutes a good score. A score that is considered good on a more challenging course may not be as impressive on an easier course.

In addition to shooting below par, the number of birdies and improvement from previous rounds are also factors that contribute to a good score. More birdies and improvement demonstrate a higher level of skill and overall performance, which are indicative of a good score.

Ultimately, a good score in golf is a reflection of the player's skill level, the difficulty of the course, shooting below par, the number of birdies, and improvement from previous rounds.

What are the different scores in golf called?

In the game of golf, there are several different scores that players can achieve, each with its own unique name and significance in relation to par. First up is the elusive eagle, which represents scoring two strokes less than par on a given hole. It's a bit of a rarity, but always a cause for celebration on the course.

Next is the birdie, which signifies scoring one stroke less than par. It's a common goal for most golfers and a key component to lowering overall scores. Then there's a par, which is simply scoring exactly at the designated par for the hole. It's a respectable score and what players aim for on most holes.

On the flip side, we have the bogey, which indicates scoring one stroke over par. It's not ideal, but certainly not the end of the world on any given hole. Following that is the double bogey, representing scoring two strokes over par, and the triple bogey, which signifies scoring three strokes over par. These scores can be a bit of a setback, but every golfer experiences them from time to time.

So, whether you're chasing eagles and birdies or trying to avoid bogeys and beyond, understanding these golf scores is essential for improving your game.

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