16 Important Golf Scorecard Rules To Remember

Be aware of these 16 rules regarding the scorecard.

16 Important Golf Scorecard Rules To Remember
(Image credit: Tom Miles)

16 Important Golf Scorecard Rules To Remember

Unlike many sports, it is the players and their designated markers who bear the responsibility for recording their scores in golf, but the burden isn’t too great as there are a few key things to remember to avoid a costly golf scorecard Rules breach (Rule 3.3).

16 Important Golf Scorecard Rules To Remember

1. Recording the correct handicap on the card is solely your responsibility as the player.

2. If you fail to record your handicap, or play off a handicap higher than that to which you are entitled (and this affects the number of strokes received), you will be disqualified from the handicap element of a strokeplay competition, though your score will still stand in any concurrent scratch competition.

Related: Rules of Golf Scorecard Essentials

3. If you record too low a handicap on your card, your net score will stand based on that handicap.

WATCH: Scorecard Do's and Don'ts

4. At the end of the round, all you are signing for is your gross score on each hole.

5. You do not have to add your scores up, record your net score, or allocate Stableford points in a Stableford.

6. Most golfers do mark such things on their cards (and that's fine), but you cannot be penalised for getting the maths, the net score or the Stableford points wrong.

7. Should you sign for a gross score on a hole lower than that actually taken, unfortunately you will be disqualified.

8. Should you sign for a higher score on a hole than that taken, the higher score stands, but you will not be disqualified.

9. Contrary to what some believe, you do not need to initial mistakes or corrections on the scorecard.

Related: 10 Golf Rules Myths

16 Important Golf Scorecard Rules To Remember

You and your marker(s) must sign your scorecard (Getty Images)

10. The scorecard must be signed by you and your marker (or markers if another person has had to take over) and returned as soon as possible on completion of the round.

11. Sometimes, this will be to a recorders’ area, but often simply to a box in the clubhouse or changing room.

12. Once it has been returned, no alterations can then be made to the scorecard.

13. If one or both of the required signatures are missing, you will be disqualified under Rule 3.3b.

Related: 7 Simple Golf Rules Mistakes

14. Returning the card “as soon as possible” doesn’t mean immediately, nor does it mean hours later. You might have a long trek to the area where it is to be returned if, for example, you have started on a tee some way from the clubhouse.

15. And even if computerised scoring is in operation, it is what is recorded on the physical scorecard that is all-important, rather than what might be input in error into a computer.

16. Finally if the scorecards are prepared for you, do make sure you swap before you mark and sign, or you'll end up signing for the wrong scores a la Mark Roe in the 2003 Open at Royal St George's.

So, there you have some important golf scorecard rules to be aware of. It is always worth an extra dose of concentration to make sure everything is spot-on before signing and returning your card, especially in the excitement of a good round.

There is nothing worse than the round of a lifetime being scuppered by an elementary scorecard mistake! Just ask Roberto de Vicenzo who signed for a par where he'd made birdie on the 71st hole in the 1968 Masters, costing him a spot in the play-off.

Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly. He is an expert on the Rules of Golf having qualified through an R&A course to become a golf referee. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played 1,000 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts. He reached the 1,000 mark on his 60th birthday in October 2023 on Vale do Lobo's Ocean course. Put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

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Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

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