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Critical Information on Golf Course Scorecards

At the start of each round, we all turn the steering wheel of the golf cart and scratch in the names of our foursome on the golf course scorecard. The standard questions are asked:

  • How do you spell your name?
  • Are you keeping score?
  • What are we playing for?
  • How many strokes are you giving me?

A few laughs and jokes are shared then we grab our driver and swing to loosen up as we wait for the next foursome to make it to the green and open up the fairway. As we talk on the tee box, the golf course scorecard sits alone in the cart with so much more to tell us. It knows it will be discarded after the round but its greatest heartache comes at the beginning of the round as its wisdom and insight into the course is ignored.

Not all scorecards are created equal. It depends on the course manager and the level of players that define what the scorecard can tell you. There is information that can help set your expectations of your performance.

Golf Scorecard Elements

Here are elements all GOOD scorecards should have:

  • Hole handicap ranking
  • Hole layout
  • Green pin placement locations
  • Green depth
  • Rating/Slope (more about these in future articles)
  • Local rules
  • Tee box recommendation

We will look at each of these in coming articles but let’s address the simple ones now.

Hole Layout:

If you are new to a course, getting a overview of the hole before hitting your first shot is crucial. A good pictorial description of the course may be simplified but it will show you doglegs, bunker locations, water hazards, and green shape.

Scorecard - Hole Layout
Pictorial description of hole layout including location of bunkers and prominent trees along with shape of green.

This scorecard shows a clear picture of what the hole has in store for you incase a hill blocks your vision.

Green pin placement:

Good courses will rotate pin placement to help the green not get trampled. The course will divide each green into three to six sectors. The start will tell you the pin place is “2” today. The scorecard will then tell you where zone 2 is for each green. This will help your depth perception from 150 yards out.

Scorecard - Green Depth
Depth of green measurement with pin placement locations. Also pictorial description of hole layout.

The scorecard above shows the six various locations of the pin.  The pro shop or starter should tell you what the pin position of the day is.  As a bonus, it also includes the depth of the green.

Green depth:

You ever look at a green from 160 yards out and try to think you can hold it. What if they is only 10 yards beyond the flag? Nothing worse that hitting the green and rolling off the back. This will usually leave you with a downhill putt back to the hole. Green depth will tell you how many yards deep a green. This knowledge will help you decide how aggressive to be going for the green and the pin.

Scorecard - Pin Locations
Pin placement based and green dimensions of width and depth.

This scorecard gives the width and depth of the green for an added level of awareness.

Golf Course Scorecard Local rules:

Each course has certain rules in place due to local environmental conditions. These rules help keep pace of play up. Some of these rules may help you save a stroke or two. The scorecard can tell you:

  • Which holes have drop areas beyond environmental hazard area?
  • Local yardage markers or stake locations.
  • Which stakes are water hazard or lateral hazards?
  • What are the references for distance posted on sprinkler heads?

These two scorecards have useful information about the course including drop area and measurement reference points.

Where to play from:

Does peer pressure ever get you to play from the wrong set of tees?  Knowing where to play from leads to a more enjoyable game.  Playing the course in  longer format doesn’t win you more points just more strokes.

Scorecard - Tee Recommendation
Tee recommendation based on handicap.’

The scorecard above gives recommendations based on handicap for which tee box to play from.  Basically, they want you to be shooing in the mid 80s to play form the blues.

So on your next round, prop your feet up on the golf cart and give the scorecard a good once over.  There is probably some information that will be useful to know before your first tee shot.

What do you find useful on scorecards?  What would you like see added to scorecards?


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