Rules of Golf explained: How to fill out a golf scorecard


Ever find yourself worrying you’ve missed something, or written too much? Our Rules of Golf guru has everything you need to know when it comes to that all important bit of paper

My email has been like a leaky tap recently. Drip. Drip. Drip. And when enough of you get in touch, all with the same kind of issue, it’s time to dive into the rule book to stem the flood.

Competition committees have a difficult job. They have to administer an event, gather up all the cards, check them, close a competition, and deal with any other myriad tasks – all while we’re impatiently waiting to see if we’re adding a few quid to our voucher collection.

It’s only natural they would try and speed up the task. But your rules guru has been contacted by various members asking if their clubs are taking a liberty in the information they’re asking them to provide – and what will happen if they don’t.

So what’s the, ahem, ‘score’ when it comes to filling out a scorecard? Let’s get stuck in…

Rules of Golf explained: How to fill out a golf scorecard

Rule 3.3b is very clear on what your scorecard responsibilities are as a player. The card must contain your handicap. You and your marker have to ensure the gross scores for each hole are there, that they are correct, and that the card is signed and counter-signed.

That’s it. The committee has responsibility for your name, the date, and the totals (that includes gross and net).

If your club is trying to take action against you using Rule 3.3b for not including any of those other details, get out your Rule Book and show them the diagram setting out exactly how the responsibilities are shared out.

Now, does that mean you can just crack on as you like, leaving your committee to unravel the mysteries of your scorecard each time you enter a competition?

Not quite. A committee can request players help them by completing scorecard-related tasks that are their responsibility.

To figure out how that works, we need to turn to the Committee Procedures that are contained in the 500-page Official Guide to the Rules of Golf.

Section 5A (5), under Competitions, says that a committee “must not apply a penalty to a player under the Rules of Golf” if they fail to comply with these requests, or make a mistake in doing so.

However, they may “provide a disciplinary sanction for a player who fails repeatedly to comply with such a request”.

The use of the word “repeatedly” is instructive here. We’re not talking about one-offs. If you’re a serial offender, though, you could face action and you’d need to look at your club’s individual Codes of Conduct to see what those penalties could be.

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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