Do you need to initial changes on a golf scorecard?


So you need to change a hole score and your marker has approved. Do you need to scrawl your moniker in the margins? Our Rules of Golf guru has the answer

There are those whose scorecards look like a piece of art – clean numbers, neat, and everything filled out with precision.

Mine looks like the rest of my personal life, a disorganised mess of crossings out, numbers crammed into tiny margins, and a smattering of my initials, SC, where we’ve come to adding up and I’ve had to change a hole score where a mistake has been made.

Yes, I should clearly pay more attention – or do better at maths – but it got me thinking about the practice of essentially countersigning any alterations.

Plenty of us do it, of course, and maybe you can tell me where the practice started, but is it required under the Rules? Or are we all wasting our time?

Rules of Golf explained: Do I have to initial changes on a scorecard?

The answer is the latter. Rule 3.3b (2) states that players and markers must check and certify the hole scores. But you knew that, of course.

It also says a player “must not change a hole score entered by the marker except with the marker’s agreement or the committee’s approval”.

But when that happens, doesn’t that require a smorgasbord of signatures? No.

An interpretation to Rule 3.3b (2) reveals no extra certification is needed when changes to hole scores are made on a scorecard.

When a change has been approved, “neither the player nor the marker is required to initial or make any extra certification of the changed score”.

It adds: “The player’s certification applies to all hole scores, including those that were changed.”

Have a question for our Rules of Golf expert?

Despite the simplification of the Rules of Golf at the beginning of 2019, there are still some that leave us scratching our heads. And as I’ve passed the R&A’s level 2 rules exam with distinction, I am more than happy to help.

If you’ve sent me an email and are yet to hear back from me, I will try to answer your query. I’m still inundated with requests and trying to get through them.

Just to reiterate, I continue to receive emails from players hoping I can intervene in a club rules dispute. For fairly obvious reasons, I can’t do that and would direct those players either to their county or to the rules department at the R&A for a definitive judgement.

Click here for the full Rules of Golf explained archive and details of how to submit a question to our expert.

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