Guidance on Running a Competition

Issuing Score Cards and Recording Scores

In stroke play, it is the Committee’s responsibility to issue for each competitor a score card containing the date and the competitor’s name, or in foursome or four-ball stroke play, the competitors’ names. The Committee’s duties in respect of addition of scores, applications of handicaps, etc. in the various forms of stroke play are clearly outlined in Rule 33-5 (for a breakdown of the responsibilities of the Committee, marker and competitor in relation to the score card, see Appendix F).

It is important that the task of recording scores is given to a responsible person or group of persons as any errors that occur during the returning of score cards can have serious consequences and can undermine all the good work which has been put into a competition.

The method of receiving score cards may vary depending on the nature of the competition. It is common for Golf Clubs to utilise a “ballot box” where completed cards are returned, whereas in most professional events there is a recorder’s office or tent. Where a ballot box is in use, the Committee may consider the card returned when it is dropped into the box.

Irrespective of method used, it is essential that the Committee make it clear when a competitor is considered to have “returned his card”, after which point no alterations may be made to the card. This should be established in the conditions of the competition in case a dispute arises. For example at The Open, Championship, the following condition is used:

“Returning of Score Card 

A player’s score card is deemed officially returned to the Committee when he has left the recording office/area.”

At The Open Championship, where the recorders work from a mobile office, while a competitor is within the office he is considered to be in the process of returning his card and alterations may be made on the score card, even if the competitor has handed the card to a member of the Committee. The competitors are advised to stay whilst cards are being checked.  The Committee is responsible for the addition of the scores (Rule 33-5).  Any error can be amended while the competitor is still in the office, but once the competitor has left the office, he has “returned his card” and no subsequent alterations are possible. Since a competitor is subject to severe penalties if he signs for an incorrect score or fails to sign his card, the Committee should ensure that competitors enter the recorders area immediately after completing their round and certainly before conducting any media interviews. Similarly, access to the recording area should be highly restricted, with the public and the media kept at a sensible distance.

The routine for a recorder should be as follows:

  1. If the competitors are entering an office or tent, ask each competitor to check his scores hole by hole, and suggest that they wait until the official has checked the card before departing.
  2. Read the name on the score card back to the competitor to ensure that his scores are on the correct score card.
  3. Check to see that both the competitor and the marker have signed the card and that the competitor’s signature corresponds with the name on the card. (If it is a handicap competition, also check that the competitor’s handicap is recorded on the card.)
  4. Check the addition of the scores recorded and settle the gross total score for the round (If it is a handicap competition, apply the handicap recorded on the card).

In addition to their recording duties, recorders should make a note of, but not comment on, any verbal complaints from the players. In due course, this information should be relayed to the Committee. The recorders should also note the time of finish for each group on a draw sheet.

These responsibilities should be issued to the recorders by way of a simple instruction sheet.

It is recognised that the use of computers to log competition scores and calculate results is commonplace and that such methods can greatly assist Committees in the administration of competitions. However, the use of a computer in such a way does not override the requirement in the Rules of Golf that a score card, containing the competitor’s handicap (Rule 6-2b) and signed by the marker and competitor, must be returned to the Committee as soon as possible after completion of the round (see Rule 6-6b).

In addition, while the Committee may introduce a requirement that competitors enter their scores into a computer, any penalty imposed by the Committee for a failure to meet this requirement would have to be of a disciplinary nature, not involving a penalty under the Rules of Golf, such as disqualification (see Decision 6-6b/8).

Although the necessity for setting up a detailed recording system is not as essential in match play competitions as it is for stroke play, it is important that players know where they should report the result of a match and with which player this responsibility lies, e.g. the winner of the match.