Glossary – scoring and handicapping

Glossary of golf names and terms relating to scoring and handicapping in golf rounds. Items are listed alphabetically.

To find a sought word:
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A-C   .   D-F   .   G-H   .   I-Q   .   R-Z



1 up (2 up, 3 up etc.)
A situation during Match Play when a side (player or team) is leading by the specified number of holes. 1 up means that the side has won 1 hole more than the opponent, 2 up means 2 holes etc.
As a final score it means that the match went the full 18 holes² and the winner has won 1 hole more than the opponent.


2&1 (3&1, 3&2 etc)
A final score in Match Play when a winner won before reaching the 18th hole². The first number specifies the number of holes by which the winner led, and the second number specifies how many holes left to be played when the match ended.
5&4 means the winner was 5 holes ahead with 4 holes to play – the match ended after 14th hole.


Ace see Hole in One


Adjusted Gross Score
A player’s gross score adjusted for handicap purposes under procedures of Rules of Handicapping. The score is adjusted for unfinished holes, conceded strokes, holes not played or when number of strokes is bigger than the maximum hole score.
read more about Adjusted Gross Score …


A score of 3 strokes under par on a hole². Other name: Double Eagle.


All Square (A/S)
A situation during Match Play when opposing sides (players or teams) have an equal number of points or holes² in their favour.


A score of 1 stroke under par on a hole².


A score of 1 stroke over par on a hole².


Bogey golfer
A player who can play to the bogey from any set of tees. Bogey golfer has an Handicap Index of approximately 20.


Bogey Rating
The USGA designation that indicates the evaluation of the playing difficulty of a course for bogey golfers under normal course and weather conditions. Expressed as strokes taken to one decimal place, and is based on the extent to which yardage and other obstacles can affect the scoring ability of a bogey golfer.


Buffer Zone
In EGA Handicap System the range of returned Stableford scores, within which the player’s Handicap Index remains unchanged.


A situation during Match Play when a side (player or team) acknowledges that it doesn’t have a likely chance of winning the hole² or match and allowing the opponent side the privilege of not having to complete a putt, hole-out or finish the match.


Course Handicap
The number of handicap strokes a player receives for a specific set of tees at the course being played for handicap purposes. Calculated on the basis of the Handicap Index  and expressed as a whole number.
read more about Course Handicap …


Course Rating (CR)
The USGA evaluation of the playing difficulty of a course for scratch golfer under normal course and weather conditions. It is expressed as strokes taken to one decimal place, and is based on yardage and other obstacles to the extent that they affect the scoring ability of a scratch golfer.


CR see Course Rating


Do-Over see Mulligan


Double Bogey
A score of 2 strokes over par on a hole².


Double Eagle see Albatross


A situation during Match Play when a side (player or team) is leading by the same number of holes² remaining. So if they are one up with one hole left to play then the match is dormie.


A score of 2 strokes under par on a hole².


EDS see Extra Day Score


Even Par
A score equal to the par of the course.


Extra Day Score (EDS)
In EGA Handicap System a Stableford score returned in general play, other than a competition.


Any person with whom the player (competitor) plays.


Free drop see Relief


In a Match Play situation a putt that has one side has conceded to an opponent side. Usually very short putts are conceded as a sporting gesture and as recognition that the side would have holed the putt.
Not allowed in Stroke Play qualifying rounds. Used in casual Stroke Play rounds.
There are no rules about gimmies as to what is an acceptable length. It is considered rude to request a gimme. It is completely up to the discretion of the opponent however, and he is perfectly entitled to never give a gimme.


Good- good
A situation during Match Play when a side A offers to concede its opponent’s (side B’s) putt if side B reciprocates by conceding side A’s own putt. Simply saying it means: “I’ll give you your putt if you give me mine” and the opponent agrees.


Green in Regulation (GIR)
To hit the ball onto the green within a specified number of shots. The GIR changes depending on the par of the hole². For a par 3 it is 1, for a par 4 it is 2 and for a par 5 it is 3. It is used as a statistic to show the accuracy of a golfer’s approach shots.


Gross Score
The total number of strokes taken on a hole² or during a round of golf plus any penalty strokes.


Halve a Hole / a Match
A situation during Match Play when a hole or match is tied.


Handicap Allowance

The percentage of the Course Handicap determined by the Committee for calculation of handicap strokes a player receives in a handicap competition (Playing Handicap).


Handicap Category
EGA Handicaps
were grouped within the 6 handicap categories. 1st category contained the lowest Handicap Indexes, while 6th category contained the highest ones.


Handicap Index
The designation of the relative golfing ability of a player, on a course of standard relative playing difficulty.
read more about handicap index …


Handicap Stroke
A stroke that a player is entitled to deduct from his gross score. A player with a “plus” Playing Handicap adds strokes to his gross score.
read more about handicap strokes …


Handicap System
A scoring system that takes into account the ability of the golfer before they are awarded a score. It is used so that golfers of different abilities can compete together. The lower a Handicap Index is, the better the golfer is.
read more about handicap …


The privilege of playing first from the teeing area. On the first hole², honor can be determined by the tournament’s draw or by any other way (lowest Handicap Index, the player who is ready first to tee off first, etc.). Beginning on the second tee, the player with the best score on the preceding hole gets honors on the next tee. In Match Play it is the hole’s winner, in Stroke Play the player with lowest actual score on the hole. If players halved the hole or shoot the same score on the hole they continue to tee off in the same order on the next hole.


Initial Handicap Index
The first Handicap Index attained to beginners, who has never obtained a Handicap Index before. The initial Handicap Index is calculated on the basis of score returned after a qualifying round (9 or 18 holes).
read more about initial Handicap Index …


Level Par
A score that matches par.


Low Handicapper
A golfer with a Handicap Index in single figures, i.e. less than 10.


A person who is appointed to record (mark down) a player’s score in stroke play. Usually he is a fellow-competitor. It is the player’s responsibility to make sure the scores written down by the marker on the scorecard are correct before signing it. The marker is not a referee.


Match Play
A form of competition and scoring system in which two sides (players or teams) play every hole² as a separate contest against each other. The party with the lower score (strokes and penalty strokes) wins the hole, regardless of how many strokes he won the hole by. Opponents compete to win individual holes, and the side who wins more holes than the other wins the match. The gross or net scores on holes can be applied.
read more about Match Play …


The custom of hitting a second ball from the tee after a poor first shot without penalty stroke. Not allowed in qualifying round. Other name Do-Over.


Net Score
The score a player gets after subtracting his handicap strokes from his gross score.
read more about net score …


No Card (NC)
A status shown on the tournament scoreboard if the player completed a round and did not hand in a scorecard.


No Return (NR)
Any round that is not completed and/or for which no scorecard is returned, and additionally, in Stroke Play only, when no score is returned for one or more holes².


No Show (NS)
A status shown on the tournament scoreboard if the player did not show up to the round.


A number of strokes a good player is expected to make on a hole². Pars range from 3 to 5 normally, although some courses have par 6 holes.


Par for a Course
The sum of the pars of all the played holes² on a course. It is the number of strokes the good golfer is expected to complete all the holes. Most full-size golf courses range from pars of 69 to 74. Par 70, 71 and 72 courses are most common.


PCC see  Playing Conditions Calculation


Penalty Stroke
An additional stroke or strokes added to a player’s score for an infraction of the rules. In Match Play the penalty is loss of the hole² except for penalties assessed for relief from a penalty area or a lost ball.


Playing Conditions Calculation (PCC)
The calculation that determines statistically if conditions on a course differ from normal playing conditions and if they significantly impact player’s performance on a day. If PCC is not equal to zero its value is taken into Score Differential calculations.


Playing Handicap
The number of handicap strokes a player receives in handicap competition. It is the Course Handicap adjusted by Handicap Allowance. Expressed as a whole number.
read more about Playing Handicap …


A person who is appointed by the Committee to decide questions of fact and apply the rules.


The action of lifting the ball from the present situation and dropping it under the Rules without penalty (e.g. from casual water, ground under repair etc.). Other name: free drop


The completion of nine or eighteen (or nine) holes² on a golf course.


Rules of Handicapping
The regulations of handicapping developed by The R&A and USGA that are encompassed within seven Rules. It informs administrators and golfers on how an official Handicap Index is calculated and administered.
see the cover …


Golfer who maintains artificially high Handicap Index so he can achieve better net score in handicap competitions.


Score Differential
The difference between a player’s score (Adjusted Gross Score) and Course Rating, normalized (desloped) on  the basis of Slope Rating of the course on which the score was made. Score Differential is rounded to the nearest tenth.
read more about Score Differential …


A card on which the score of a round is recorded. The scorecard enables to identify players and contains the lengths, the pars and the stroke indexes of individual holes².
see the example …


Scoring Record
A file with player’s submitted scores arranged in chronological order. It includes: posted Score Differentials, current Handicap Index, calculated Low Handicap Index, details of each registered round (date, course, tee) and any applicable adjustments.


A golfer who can play par from any set of tees. Scratch golfer has an Handicap Index of 0,0 or lower.


Shot see Stroke


A player, or two or more players who are partners. In Match Play, each member of the opposing side is an opponent. In Stroke Play, members of all sides are competitors and members of different sides playing together are fellow-competitors.


The classic format of golf competition of single players, that can be played off scratch or full handicap difference as Match Play or Stroke Play.


Slope Rating (SR)
The USGA designation that indicates the relative playing difficulty of a course for players who are not scratch golfers. It is computed from the difference between the bogey rating and the course rating. A golf course of standard relative playing difficulty has a SR of 113.


SR see Slope Rating


A scoring system of Stroke Play in which the sides (players or teams) award points (Stableford points) on each hole². The points are awarded on either a net or gross basis in relation to the par at each hole: 1 point for a bogey, 2 for a par, 3 for a birdie, 4 for an eagle and 5 for an albatross. The side with the highest total number of points wins.
read more about Stableford …


The forward movement (swing) of the club made by a golfer who is trying to strike the ball. The swing completed with the intention of hitting the ball counts as a stroke regardless of whether the ball is struck or missed.


Stroke Index (SI)
The relative difficulty rating for the hole². Each course ranks its holes² in the order from which is the most difficult (SI = 1) to easiest (SI = 18).
see the example …


Stroke Play
A form of competition and scoring system in which the sides (players or teams) play the nominated amount (1 – 4) of rounds. Each stroke the side takes and penalty strokes are tallied and makes up its final score. The side with the lowest total score (gross or net) wins. Other name: Medal Play.
read more about Stroke Play …


Square see All Square


Triple Bogey
A score of 3 strokes over par on a hole².


Withdrawn (WD)
A status shown on the tournament scoreboard if a player is voluntarily withdrawn from a competition after starting it.



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update: January 2021