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Scoring ProceduresRules Notebook: Amateur Championships

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It is the responsibility of this assignment to ensure that all official scorecards are properly handled, and any disputes are settled prior to a player leaving the designated scoring area.

In order to maintain order in scoring, ONLY the players and USGA officials should be allowed in the scoring area.

All conversations with players should be kept to a minimum unless answering any Rules disputes. If there are any problems, please notify a Rover or the Review Committee.

1.  Scoring Area Items                                        

A.  A skirted table, an appropriate number of chairs to accommodate all players and scoring officials and a waste basket will be needed in the scoring area.

B.  Before leaving the USGA Office, please make sure you have the following items:

  • Pencils with erasers and a cup or box to collect pencils
  • Radio, with earpiece
  • 3 x 5 cards
  • Pairings and tee times for the day
  • Blank scorecards for lost or severely damaged cards
  • Verification tablet, when available from USGA Scoring


1.  Scoring Procedures                                        

USGA officials receiving scorecards should establish a routine such as the following:

A.  Note the finishing time of the group (when the last ball is removed from the hole) on the pairings sheet, or similar if provided by the Championship Director, and return it to the USGA Office at the end of your shift.

B.  Ask the players if they have any Rules questions.

C.  Ask each player to check his or her score for each hole.

D.  Make sure both the player (or a player on a side) and their marker have certified (i.e. signed) the scorecard.

E.  Make sure the player checks hole-by-hole scores along with his or her marker. A player may not change his or her score without the marker’s agreement or Committee’s approval.

F.  Check the hole-by-hole scores and verify that scores are recorded for each hole (double check those that started on a hole other than No. 1). Total the nines for each scorecard.

G.  Confirm that the name on the scorecard belongs to the player whose score it belongs to.

H.  The scoring official and the player should agree on the total score.

I.   Make sure the players wait until one of the USGA officials has reviewed all scorecards. A scorecard is considered officially “returned” when the player (or both players on a side) has exited the scoring area.

J.  Write the correct total score and record it in the upper right-hand corner of the scorecard and initial the scorecard.

K.  Once the players have left the scoring area, please fill in the 3 x 5 cards.

  • Record the score on the 3 x 5 card.
  • File 3 x 5 cards as follows:
    • After the first round, file in the same order as tee times.
    • After the second round, file in order of scores, with the lowest on top. File ties in order of return. In case of ties in a group, file in order listed on the pairings sheet.
  • The 3 x 5 cards are used to as an independent check to ensure the computer is correct for the match-play draw, so it is essential that they are correct.
  • Return the 3 x 5 cards to the USGA Office after your shift.


L.  To verify the scores are complete and correct, one of two procedures is used utilized. Either a scorecard runner will take the cards after each group or the scores will be blind entered into a verification tablet after each group.

CHECKING A SCORECARD (click to view)



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Incomplete Scorecards

It is important for incomplete scorecards to accurately reflect what actually happened. Therefore, the scorer should write on the player’s scorecard one of the following notations, if applicable.

WD – This notation is used in cases where a player officially withdraws by notifying a USGA official or staff member.

DQ – The appropriate classification for a Rules violation, which necessitates a player’s disqualification – including when a player fails to appear for his or her tee time without prior notification or fails to return a scorecard.

Note: In Four-Ball stroke play, a side may be represented by either partner for all or any part of a round.



Referees will handle the match play scorecard.

Referees will announce out loud the hole scores of each side and the match score at the conclusion of each hole played.

Scores are then relayed to the scoreboard and posted on the internet. Hand-held scoring devices are used in most USGA championships. These devices are updated by a walking scorer or by the Referee. The same scores announced at the conclusion of each hole should be entered into the hand-held scoring device.

If scoring devices are not used, the Referee is requested to radio in the individual hole-by-hole score at the conclusion of each hole. At the discretion of the Championship Director, scores may be called in by radio, in addition to being entered in the handheld scoring device, during later rounds of match play. When scores are required to be radioed in at the conclusion of each hole, please contact the scoreboard or scoring control. Wait for a response from them. After they acknowledge your call, please say, “match #, hole #, player name on line 1, score, player name on line 2, score, match score.” They will then repeat your information for confirmation.



Referee: “Match 4 to Scoreboard.”

Scoreboard: “Scoreboard, go ahead Match 4.”

Referee: “Scoreboard, Match 4, Hole 1. Smith-3, Jones-4. Smith is 1 up.”

Scoreboard: “Match 4, Hole 1. Smith-3, Jones-4. Smith is 1 up.”

Referee: “Correct.”


Four-Ball Example:

Referee: “Match 4 to Scoreboard.”

Scoreboard: “Scoreboard, go ahead Match 4.”

Referee: “Scoreboard, Match 4, Hole 1. Adams/ Johnson-3, Burns/Haley-4, Adams/Johnson is 1 up.”

Scoreboard: “Match 4, Hole 1. Adams/Johnson-3, Burns/ Haley-4, Adams/Johnson is 1 up.”

Referee: “Correct.”

Also, since as many as 16 matches will be on each channel, please make sure that no one else is speaking before you try to contact the scoreboard.

PLEASE NOTE: It may be difficult to reach the scoreboard in some areas of the golf course. If you are unable to  reach the scoreboard after two or three attempts, please wait until after the next hole to contact the scoreboard.

Referees are asked to announce the match score after each hole.

At the conclusion of each hole, please announce to the players and fans as follows:



Referee: “Smith-3, Jones-4. Smith is 1 up.”

Four-Ball: “Adams/Johnson-3, Burns/Haley-4. Adams/ Johnson is 1 up.”

After announcing the results to the players and fans following the match, please confirm that the scores are correctly entered in the hand-held scoring device, and/or if required, radio the results in to the scoreboard.

In all rounds of match play, even if hand-held scoring devices are in use, at the conclusion of your match, please radio the scoreboard with the final result. Ensure that

the airways are clear before making your announcement. After radioing the scoreboard, please take the match play scorecard to the scoreboard.

Thank you for your assistance. This will enable others on the golf course as well as the media and those following the match online to be updated.



A.  Players and fans watching the match normally understand the result of a hole when viewing it in person. However, the results are also posted on the scoreboard and online, and it is necessary to record a numeric score in most cases to make the result understandable to those not following the match in person. Therefore, the following are provided as guidelines to record and report this information.

B.  When a concession of a hole is made, ALL balls involved in the match are treated as being holed with their next stroke, regardless of the distance involved.

C.  When a concession of a hole is made, any penalty strokes not yet applied are accounted for in scores entered into the hand-held scoring device and radioed to the scoreboard.

  • Example A: A tee shot is played out of bounds and a concession occurs. The player lies 2 (1 stroke and 1 penalty stroke), and the score after the concession for this player would be 3 and his or her opponent would receive a 2.
  • Example B: A player’s second shot is in a yellow penalty area and he then concedes. His score is 4 (2 strokes, 1 penalty stroke and 1 for the conceded stroke).


D.  If a player gets a “loss of hole” penalty, his or her score for the hole is reported as “X.” The opponent’s score is the number of strokes already made plus 1 for the conceded stroke.

E.  Report any breaches of Rule 4.1b to the Championship Director, the scoreboard and scoring control as it requires a match adjustment.

F.  If a hole is conceded when the players have taken the same number of strokes, the player who concedes gets an “X” for the hole and the score for the other player is the number of strokes taken plus one for the conceded stroke.


SAMPLE SITUATIONS                                                   

Situation 1:        Both players lie 3, Smith makes his putt, Jones misses and picks up without holing out.

Referee:             “Smith-4, Jones-5. Smith is 1 up.”

Situation 2:        On a par 4, Smith has a 10-foot putt for par.

Jones holes a 20-foot putt for birdie.

Referee:             “Smith-4, Jones-3. The match is tied.”

Situation 3:        On a par 5, Smith lies 3, 4 feet from the hole. Jones misses his putt for par. Jones then concedes Smith’s putt or the hole.

Referee:             “Smith-4, Jones-6. Smith is 1 up.”

Situation 4:        Both players have played two strokes.

Smith’s second shot went out of bounds and he concedes the hole.

Referee:             “Smith-4, Jones-3. The match is tied.”

Situation 5:        Both players lie 2. Smith improves the area of his intended swing prior to his third stroke.

Referee:             “Smith gets a loss of hole penalty. Jones is 1 up.” (X is entered for Smith, 3 is entered for Jones.)

Situation 6:        Smith lies 2 near the hole on the putting green. Jones plays his second stroke into a penalty area. Jones surveys his chances of recovering from the penalty area and concedes the hole.

Referee:             “Smith-3, Jones-4. The match is tied.”

Situation 7: During the fourth hole, it is discovered that Smith started the round with 16 clubs in his bag. Both players hole out in four strokes.

Referee:             “Smith-4, Jones-4. Smith gets a two-hole deduction to the match score. Jones is 2 up.” (Report the match adjustment penalty to the Championship Director, scoreboard and scoring control.)

Situation 8:        Smith and Jones both lie 2 on the putting green, Smith has a 60-foot putt and Jones is only 3 feet away. Smith concedes the hole.

Referee:             “Smith concedes the hole. Jones is 3 up.” (X is entered for Smith, 3 is entered for Jones.)

Situation 9:        Smith is 1 up playing the last hole and both players lie 2. Smith holes his putt for 3 and Jones shakes his hand as a concession. (See Rule 3.2b(2))

Referee:             “Smith-3, Jones-3. Smith wins, 1 up.”

Situation 10:     Smith is 1 up playing the last hole and both players lie 2. Jones misses, two-putts and then shakes hands with Smith as a concession. (See Rule 3.2b(2))

Referee:             “Smith-3, Jones-5. Smith wins, 2 up.”



When reporting the scores over the radio to the scoreboard, do not use Mr., Ms., Mrs. or Miss. Keep the announcement as short as possible to minimize radio time. However, courtesy titles may be used when announcing scores to players and fans at the completion of each hole.

Always announce/report the scores of the players in the order of how their names appear on the scorecard. In other words, if Smith is listed on the top line and Jones on the second line, always announce Smith’s score first and then Jones’ score, regardless of who won the hole.

If Jones is 2 up with two holes to play, announce that “Jones is 2 up with two holes to play.”

If a match goes to extra holes, the winner of the match will always win by one hole. Therefore, announce the match score as “Jones wins in 20 holes.”

At the conclusion of your match, please radio the scoreboard with the final match score and then take the scorecard to the scoreboard.

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