How to Read a Golf Score Card

By Anthony K

golfer standing over a tee shot with iron
A golf scorecard might seem like it is written in a different language. There are lots of numbers, plus and minus signs, and numbers in parentheses. This is daunting at first, but a little understanding let's you see that it's a lot simpler than it looks.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy
  1. Locate the number identifying each hole. These numbers are at the top of each column, numbered 1 through 18, identifying each hole on an 18-hole course.
  2. Locate par for each hole, which should be listed under or to the side of the hole number. Par is the number of shots it should take a golfer to sink his ball into the cup at the end of the hole.
  3. Write down, in the space next to the golfer's name, how many shots it took him to sink his ball. For instance, a hole-in-one is designated by a "1" on the scorecard. Sinking a ball in one fewer shot than listed as par is called a "birdie." Two fewer shots is an "eagle." Taking one more shot than par is called a "bogey," two extra shots is a "double bogey," three is a "triple bogey," and so on.
  4. Locate par for the course. This number should be listed (often in parentheses) one column from the 18th hole's column, and is the sum of the par listings for all 18 holes. Remember that if you play only nine holes you can't base your score on the total par number. You'll need to add up the par numbers from the nine holes you play to get total par.
  5. Total all holes played to get the final score for each golfer. The golfer with the lowest score is the winner. Once you total scores, determine how many strokes over or under par each golfer was. This number should be written as a plus or minus (for example, -3 for a golfer who finishes three strokes under par, or +3 for someone who finishes three strokes over par.

About the Author

Anthony is a freelance writer and amateur filmmaker. His work has appeared in various online publications, such as eHow and Golflink. He is currently a senior in college working toward graduating with a B.A. in English-Writing.