Golf Scoring Rules

golf scoring rules

In golf, there are both different scoring methods and names for all types of scores. Read on to learn about these methods of scorekeeping, as well as the scoring lingo you will hear on the course.


Golf Scoring Lingo

Par

Par is the expected number of strokes the golf course expects a golfer to use to complete the hole. When a golfer scores a par, he is even for that hole. A golf hole will typically be a Par 3, Par 4, or Par 5.

Birdie

Birdie is when a golfer uses one fewer stroke than par to complete a hole. For example, if a golfer completes a par 4 in three strokes, they have made a birdie.

Eagle

An eagle is when a golfer uses two fewer strokes than par to complete a hole. For example, if a golfer completes a par 5 in three strokes, they have made an eagle.

Albatross / Double Eagle

An albatross is when a golfer uses three fewer strokes than par to complete a hole. For example, if a golfer completes a par 5 in two strokes, they have made an albatross, an incredibly rare feat in golf. Another word for an albatross is a double eagle.

Bogey

A bogey is when a golfer uses one more stroke than par to complete a hole. For example, if a golfer completes a par 4 in five strokes, they have made a bogey.

Double Bogey

A bogey is when a golfer uses two more strokes than par to complete a hole. For example, if a golfer completes a par 4 in six strokes, they have made a double bogey.

Triple Bogey

A bogey is when a golfer uses three more strokes than par to complete a hole. For example, if a golfer completes a par 4 in seven strokes, they have made a triple bogey.

Quadruple Bogey

A bogey is when a golfer uses four more strokes than par to complete a hole. For example, if a golfer completes a par 4 in eight strokes, then they have made a quadruple bogey.

Hole in One / Ace

A hole in one occurs when a golfer hits a tee shot in the hole, thus only needing one stroke to complete the hole. The term ace is another way of saying hole in one.

Golf Scoring Methods

  • Stroke Play
  • Match Play
  • Alternate Shot / Foursomes
  • Scramble
  • Best Ball
  • Best Ball Match Play
  • Shamble

Stroke Play

Stroke play is a method of keeping score by counting the number of strokes a golfer uses to complete a round of golf. Stroke play is the most common way of keeping score and indicates the golfer's score relative to par.

Match Play

Match play consists of two golfers playing each other based on the number of holes won. For example, if golfer #1 shoots a lower score than golfer #2 on a hole, then golfer #1 is up one. Golfer #2 is down one. If both players tie on a hole, then they are even.

Alternate Shot / Foursomes

Alternate shot features a team of two golfers sharing one ball throughout the entire round, alternating who hits the ball on every shot. The players must also alternate who takes the tee shot on each hole. At the end of each hole, the players will tally their strokes for their team score.

Scramble

A scramble is a format where a group of golfers play the best shot from a teammate in order to shoot for the lowest score collectively. Unlike stroke or match play, a golfer does not play his own golf ball for the entirety of the round.

Best Ball

Best ball is a format where a group of golfers each play their own ball for the entirety of a golf round and record the lowest score out of the group for each hole.

Best Ball Match Play

Best ball match play is a two versus two format where each team takes its player's lowest score to go against an opposing team. The team with the player who shoots the lowest score goes up one on that hole.

Shamble

A shamble is a modified version of a scramble but instead only uses the best drive of the group, and then each player is required to play their own ball through the completion of the hole.