How Does Golf Scoring Work?

The top earners in golf make over $100 million on-course. So if you want to play golf for a living, you’ve got a luxurious future ahead of you. But being in the top 1% of golfers takes a lot of work.

You’ll have to practice hard, compete at every opportunity and, most importantly, learn the rules of the game. That includes golf scoring. Once you know how to keep score, you can calculate your winning chances.

Here are some basic rules to help you get started.

How to Score Golf

Most golf games have 18 holes. Every hole has a par. A par is the number of strokes an expert player should take to finish the hole.

The player with the lowest score at the end of the 18 holes wins.

Stroke Play

The object of the game is to complete each hole in the fewest strokes. A stroke is any action that causes the ball to move. At the end of each hole, players are awarded points equal to the total strokes taken on that hole.

Stableford Scoring

Stableford scoring assigns points to each hole depending on how many strokes it takes to complete it in comparison to the par score. If your par is 72 and it took you two shots less, you would receive 4 points. Here’s a breakdown of the point system:

  • Bogey equals 1 point

  • Par equals 2 points

  • Birdie equals 3 points

  • Eagle equals 4 points

The handicap of each player is also taken into account. For example, a player with a 45-handicap would receive 2 points for every hole.

Match Play

Match play is when each hole is a separate contest. For example, if you play 18 holes with your friend and win the second hole, you’ll be the winner of match 2. You’ll usually see this format in informal competitions.


A foursome competition has two teams of two players. You can score a foursome match using stroke play or match play.

In match-play mode, both teams add their individual scores together for the total. They compare this number to that of their opponents. The team with the lowest score gets 1 point.

In stroke play, the teams play an 18-hole round on alternating holes. The first player from Team A tees off. Then the second player from Team A strikes the ball.

Team A will continue playing like this until they finish the hole. Team B will play the second hole in a similar fashion.

Win the Game Using Accurate Golf Scoring

If you’re competing against someone who has no idea how golf scoring works, you’ll have the upper hand. For example, if you’re playing against someone with a 10-handicap and they’ve taken 18 strokes on the first hole, you can assume they won’t be taking as many strokes on other holes.

Rules are the cornerstone of any sport. If you want to expand your sports knowledge, explore our blog posts. You’ll find lots of information on all the sports we love here at UCLA!

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.