How Golf Scoring Works – Basics Of Golf Scoring

How Golf Scoring Works

How golf scoring works – Golf is a game of accuracy and skill that requires the player to hit a ball into a predetermined number of holes. In competitive golf, the difficulty level of each hole determines its associated score. The golfer’s goal is to complete the course with as low a score as possible. 

The Basics of Golf Scoring


The standard “Par” expects an expert golfer to make several strokes on a hole or round. For instance, a hole with a par of 5 should take an expert golfer five strokes to get the ball from the tee into the hole.

Birdie and Eagle

“Birdie” and “Eagle” are terms used when a golfer completes a hole in fewer strokes than the assigned par. If they finish one stroke under par, it’s called a “birdie.” If they finish two strokes under par, it’s an “eagle.” 

Match Play 

In “Match Play,” each hole is a separate competition. The player with the lowest number of strokes on that hole wins the hole. 

Stroke Play Scoring

In stroke play, golfers determine the score for a hole by subtracting their handicap from their total strokes on that hole. A golfer with a lower handicap will have a lower score than one with a higher handicap. 

For example, if two golfers complete an 18-hole round in the same number of strokes, the golfer with the lower handicap will have the lower score. The total of all 18 scores is then added up to determine who has won. 

Match Play Scoring

How golf scoring works – In match play, golfers determine the score for each hole by subtracting their handicap from their total strokes on that hole. The player with the lowest number of strokes wins that particular hole. At the end of 18 holes, declare the player with more won holes as the winner.

Stableford Scoring

The Stableford scoring system awards points based on the golfer’s stroke total for each hole. Subtract the golfer’s handicap from their score. But instead of counting up the total number of strokes, use a point system to check the performance.

For example, if a golfer takes four strokes on a hole and has a handicap of 3, the hole awards them 1 point as their score is one over par. If they had taken six strokes, the hole wouldn’t award any points, as they are three over par. 

Bogey and Double Bogey Scoring

In the Bogey and Double Bogey scoring system, assign each hole par plus a handicap modifier. It is then used to determine what score counts as “par” for that particular hole. For example, if a hole has a par of 4, but the golfer’s handicap modifier is 2, they would need to complete the hole in 6 strokes or fewer to earn a score of “par.” 

A bogey is one stroke over par, and a double bogey is two strokes over par. This system rewards golfers for completing holes in fewer strokes than the handicap modifier plus par total. They will have lower scores than those who complete the hole in the same number of strokes.

Handicaps and Net Scoring

Handicaps level the playing field between golfers of different skill levels. Use a golfer’s handicap to reflect their potential ability, which then adjusts each player’s score.

The most common type of scoring system used with a handicap system is “Net Scoring.” It involves subtracting a golfer’s handicap from their strokes on each hole. It results in a score that is more reflective of their ability. At the end of 18 holes, we declare the player with the lowest net score the winner.

Special Scoring Situations

Albatross or Double Eagle

A golfer achieves an “Albatross” or “Double Eagle” when they complete a hole in three strokes under par. It is a rare achievement, as it requires extraordinary skill or luck. 


A “Hole-In-One” is when a golfer gets the ball into the hole on their first stroke from the tee. This achievement is more likely on par-3 holes but can theoretically occur on any hole.


A “Mulligan” is a second chance to perform a certain stroke, usually after a poor shot. It’s not recognized in professional play but is often used in casual games.

Conceding Putts in MatchPlay

In match play, players may “concede” a putt to their opponent. It means the player acknowledges that their opponent would have made the putt. The ball holed without the opponent having to make the stroke.


What is the difference between stroke play and match play scoring? 

Stroke play scoring involves adding the number of strokes after each hole to determine a golfer’s score. Match play scoring involves awarding points for each hole based on who has the lowest number of strokes.

What is the point system for Stableford scoring? 

In Stableford scoring, we award points based on a golfer’s stroke total for each hole. We declare the golfer with more points at the end of 18 holes as the winner. 

What is a handicap in golf? 

A handicap in golf is a numerical measure of a golfer’s potential ability. It’s used to even out the playing field by giving higher-skilled golfers a handicap higher than their ability. Similarly, lower-skilled golfers receive a handicap lower than their ability.

What is the difference between bogey and double-bogey scoring? 

In bogey and double bogey scoring, we assign each hole par plus a handicap modifier. A bogey is one stroke over par, and a double bogey is two strokes over par. 


Golf scoring can become complicated. But golfers with a basic understanding of how golf scoring works and an awareness of proper etiquette should have no problem keeping track of their scores. It’s important to remember that golf is meant to be enjoyable for everyone involved. Following the rules and playing with integrity are key elements to maintaining a fair and friendly game environment. 

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