How Golf Scoring Works

By Ben Jarratt •  Updated: 07/14/23 •  6 min read

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In this blog post, we will talk about how golf scoring works. You may be thinking to yourself that it couldn’t be too complicated, but you would be wrong. Many different things go into calculating your score and understanding how the game is played. We hope this article provides insight into how the game is scored, so you know what’s going on out on the course!

The Object Of The Game

The object of the game is to get the ball in the hole. Although you can hit the ball wherever you want, some things and hazards will make it more challenging to get in.

Scoring Zones And Strokes

How Golf Scoring Works - golf score

The game is played with 18 holes which consist of four parts: a teeing ground, fairway, green, and a putting surface. The golfer must use a few strokes to get the ball from the teeing ground to the putting surface.

Stroke Score

Golfers are given a score based on how many strokes they take. This is based on a player’s score relative to how many strokes they took. A more challenging course will have lower scores, while an easier one would be higher. It all depends on the golfer and how accurate their shots are!

The Stroke Scale Explained

Golfers use different techniques for scoring: Some of the methods used when it comes to scoring include bogey, birdie, and eagle. Bogeys are made by taking one stroke more than par for the hole (which is how many strokes it takes to get down a particular hole in 18 holes), while Birdies are when you have completed the course in as few strokes as possible. Eagles are accomplished when you take one fewer stroke than par!

A bogey counts two points on your scorecard; a birdie is worth three points, and an eagle nets four. A triple-bogey – or worse yet, a quintuple-bogey – would mean that someone has taken 11 shots instead of nine (or five shots too many). This means they end up with 12 points which equals double their original score of six!


A golfer’s score can be affected by penalties such as hitting out of bounds or even taking too much time.
One common penalty is a stroke and distance, which means that the golfer must re-hit their ball instead of just taking an extra shot.
If they’re playing in a tournament with more players than there are holes to play on, then this can happen if you have taken too long over your turn or hit out of bounds.
Penalties come with different numbers of strokes, depending on which rule has been broken.


How Golf Scoring Works - score card

Scoring is usually determined by counting up the number of strokes taken and then adding any penalty shots to that total.

If you’ve taken more strokes than the target number of shots, then your score will be more excellent. If you take fewer strokes than expected, then your score may be lower, but it won’t go below zero unless a penalty stroke is added to the total for any reason, like too many clubs in hand or hitting out of bounds.
The goal on a hole is usually par (or “par-five” if there are five holes), meaning that golfers should try and make fours instead of threes when they can. The aim is not always met, so sometimes players end up with over 100 points which means they have scored double their original 180 shot count!

Hitting Out of Bounds

Hitting out-of-bounds will result in two penalty shots for each stroke over par (e.g., if you hit your ball into an out-of-bounds area twice, it would count as four penalty shots)

Hitting the Ball Twice

If you hit your ball twice, it is one penalty shot for each stroke over par

Adding Clubs to Your Hand or Golf Bag When You Can’t Play With All of Them on the Course

You will be penalized two shots per club if you add clubs to your hand when not playing with all allowed clubs and have more than 14 in total. The rules are different when adding a driver because they can only carry 14 clubs at any given time. They also must declare which side they’re carrying their 15th club (it cannot exceed 30°) before adding that extra piece to make sure there’s no interference while swinging back:
The addition of iron means removing a wood, which might mean removing another wood, and so on.

Penalties After Making A Double Bogey Or Worse On The First Nine Holes
When golfers make double bogeys or worse on the first nine holes, they will have three penalty shots to add onto their score as opposed to two if they were just short of par but did not fall below it:

Taking Too Much Time

How Golf Scoring Works - keeping score

Taking too much time results in one stroke per minute over par (e.g., if you took five minutes to play a shot, it would count as five strokes) as well as a one-stroke penalty.

Taking Too Little Time

If the player takes too little time, he will be penalized with two strokes per minute over par (e.g., if you took five minutes to play a shot, this would count as ten strokes). The penalties for playing slowly or quickly can go from taking only a couple of shots off your score up to costing the player almost their entire round’s worth of golf balls.”
A golfer who is found guilty of deliberately distracting another competitor by any manner other than singing in harmony may incur an additional stroke and disqualification from that hole’s competition.

In Conclusion

Many factors determine a golfer’s score. Remember that it is crucial to know how golf scoring works before you head out on the course.