Can You Hand In A Scorecard For Nine Holes Of Golf?

Can a nine-hole score count for handicap?

Close-up of a player marking a scorecard
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Under the World Handicap System (WHS), more players are entering counting scores played outside competition – known as General Play scores.

As long as you pre-register – either signing in on a computer or app, or notifying the professional or secretary that you are intending to enter a General Play score before you hit your first tee shot – you can put a scorecard in to count for handicap calculation purposes.

The more General Play scores you enter, the more reflective of your current playing ability your Handicap Index and Playing Handicap will be.

When you sign in to enter a General Play score at any course, you will be asked to select your teeing options. Within those teeing options, you should also be able to select whether you are intending to play 18 holes or just the front or back nine on an 18-hole course, just once round a nine-hole course. Yes, you can hand in a scorecard for nine holes of General Play golf and it will count towards your handicap.

In the UK, if you register to play nine holes, you must complete all nine holes by The Rules of Golf for the score to be included in your handicap record. If you register to play 18-holes, you must complete at least 10 of the holes in accordance with The Rules of Golf for it to be counted. National Associations have discretion to decide how many holes must be played for both a 9-hole and an 18-hole score to be acceptable for handicap purposes.

In this country then, if you have registered to play 18-holes, you can’t hand a scorecard in for nine holes of golf and have it count towards your WHS handicap calculation.

If you registered to play the front nine holes as a General Play but then realised you had time to also play the back nine, you could then register to do that – But doing so would count as two separate scores on your handicap record.

Many clubs will hold nine-hole competitions, even 18-holers, particularly at clubs where the ninth comes back to the clubhouse. If a club had a loop of 12 holes that it made sense to use for a shortened competition, scores from that could count towards handicap – Players would sign in to play 18 holes and, as long as they completed a minimum of 10 holes by The Rules, the score could count.


Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?