Written by: Darin Green, Senior Director of Rules & Competitions
In all stroke play competitions, the player’s score is kept on a scorecard by the marker, whether a paper scorecard or a digital scorecard. The marker is assigned by the Committee or chosen by the player in a way approved by the Committee. The marker must be the same person for the entire round, unless the Committee approves a change either before or after it happens.
During the round, the marker should confirm with the player their score after hole; however, there is no penalty to the marker if they do not. When the round has ended, the marker must certify the hole scores on the scorecard by signing it. If a marker knowingly certifies a wrong score for a hole, the marker should be disqualified under Rule 1.2a.
While the marker has some responsibility, the player has much more responsibility for their scorecard. The player must check that their hole scores are correct and raise any issues with the Committee. The player must make sure the marker signed the scorecard. The player must not change a hole score except with the marker’s agreement or the Committee’s approval. The player must also sign the scorecard and promptly return it to the Committee. Once the player physically leaves the scoring area, the scorecard is returned and final. If the player breaches any of requirements, the player is disqualified.
New Optional Local Rules for Stroke Play
Two new optional Local Rules were introduced to the Rules of Golf in 2023 regarding scorecards. The first one is Model Local Rule L-1 and called Modification of Penalty Under Rule 3.3b(2) for Missing Player or Marker Certification. This Local Rule, if in effect, removes the disqualification penalty when a scorecard is returned and is missing one, or both, signatures. Instead of disqualifying the player, the Committee must add a two-stroke penalty to the player’s last hole. The FSGA and USGA has adopted this Local Rule for their competitions.
The second one is Model Local Rule L-2 and called Making Player Responsible for Handicap or Scorecard. Rule 3.3b(4) states that there is no requirement for a player’s handicap to be shown on the scorecard and that it is the Committee’s responsibility to calculate the player’s handicap stroke for the competition in order to calculate the player’s net score. If this Local Rule is adopted, it makes the player responsible for displaying the correct handicap on the scorecard. The FSGA does NOT recommend adopting this Local Rule for competitions at golf clubs.
Historical Scorecard Incidents
At the 1957 U.S. Women’s Open at Winged Foot Golf Club, Jackie Pung walked off the final green assuming she won the championship with a one-stroke victory over Betsy Rawls. After returning her signed scorecard, the Committee became aware that her scorecard showed a 5 on the fourth hole when she actually made a 6. Pung was disqualified and Rawls was declared the champion. Fun fact – the members and officials around the clubhouse felt bad for Pung and took up a collection for her. They raised more money for Pung than Rawls received in the winner’s check.
At the 1968 Masters, Roberto De Vicenzo walked off the final green believing he was headed to a playoff with Bob Goalby. After De Vicenzo returned his signed scorecard, it was discovered that his scorecard had a 5 on the 17th hole when actually made a 4. Since the score was higher than he actually made, the score stands and he missed out on a playoff with Goalby by one stroke. Goalby was declared the winner.