Golf Scoring Terms: A Guide To Basic, Advanced, Handicap, Match Play, And Stroke Play Scoring

Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases

Discover the key golf scoring terms you need to know, from basic and to advanced albatross and hole-in-one. Learn about handicap, , and scoring in this comprehensive guide.

Basic Golf Scoring Terms

Golf, a game that combines skill, strategy, and precision, is known for its unique scoring system. To fully understand the game and its intricacies, it’s important to grasp the basic golf scoring terms. In this section, we will delve into the fundamental concepts of scoring in golf: Par, Birdie, Eagle, Bogey, and Double Bogey.


Par is a term commonly used in golf to describe the number of strokes an expert golfer is expected to complete a hole or course in. It represents the standard score for a hole, based on its length and difficulty. For example, a 3 hole typically requires three strokes to complete, while a 4 hole requires four strokes, and a 5 hole requires five strokes.


A is a term used to denote a score that is one stroke under for a given hole. Achieving a is considered a notable accomplishment in golf, as it indicates that the player completed the hole in fewer strokes than expected. For instance, if a golfer completes a 4 hole in three strokes, they have achieved a .


An eagle is an impressive score that represents completing a hole two strokes under par. It is a rare and highly coveted achievement in golf, showcasing exceptional skill and precision. For example, if a player manages to complete a par 5 hole in just three strokes, they have successfully achieved an eagle.


A occurs when a golfer completes a hole one stroke over . It signifies that the player struggled slightly on that particular hole, failing to meet the expected standard. For instance, if a 4 hole is completed in five strokes, the player has scored a .

Double Bogey

Double is a term used to describe a score that is two strokes over par for a given hole. It indicates a significant challenge for the golfer, as they struggled to complete the hole within the expected number of strokes. For example, if a player completes a 3 hole in five strokes, they have scored a double .

Understanding these basic golf scoring terms is essential for players and enthusiasts alike. They provide a common language and framework to discuss performance on the golf course. Now that we have explored the fundamentals, let’s move on to more advanced scoring terms in the next section.


Score Description
Par The expected score for a hole
Birdie Completing a hole one stroke under par
Eagle Completing a hole two strokes under par
Bogey Completing a hole one stroke over par
Double Bogey Completing a hole two strokes over

As you can see from the table above, these scoring terms provide a clear indication of a player’s performance on a hole. They serve as benchmarks for golfers to strive for, with birdies and eagles representing exceptional play, while bogeys and double bogeys highlight areas for improvement.

So, the next time you find yourself on the golf course, keep these scoring terms in mind. They not only add to your golfing knowledge but also enhance your ability to appreciate the achievements of professional golfers. Stay tuned for the next section, where we will explore advanced scoring terms that push the boundaries of golfing excellence.

  • Par: The expected score for a hole
  • Birdie: Completing a hole one stroke under par
  • Eagle: Completing a hole two strokes under par
  • Bogey: Completing a hole one stroke over par
  • Double Bogey: Completing a hole two strokes over par

Advanced Golf Scoring Terms


Imagine hitting a shot in golf that is so perfect, it results in a score that is three strokes under par on a single hole. This remarkable achievement is known as an albatross, and it is a rare occurrence that golfers dream of achieving. To put it into perspective, an albatross is even more elusive than a hole-in-one, as it requires an incredibly long shot, usually on a -5 hole. Only a select few golfers in the world can claim to have hit an albatross, making it a feat reserved for the legends of the game.


Every golfer dreams of hitting a hole-in-one, and for good reason. It is the ultimate display of skill and precision, resulting in the ball finding the bottom of the cup with a single shot. The excitement and joy that come with achieving a hole-in-one are indescribable, and it is a moment that will be remembered by the golfer forever. Whether it’s a -3 hole or a longer hole, the elusive hole-in-one is a testament to the golfer’s ability and a cause for celebration on the course.


While the albatross and hole-in-one are well-known scoring terms in golf, the condor is a term that is less familiar to many golfers. In fact, the condor is the rarest of all scoring terms, as it refers to a score of four under par on a single hole. This incredible achievement is typically seen on -5 holes, where a golfer manages to reach the green in one shot and then sinks the putt for an eagle. The condor is a mythical score that very few golfers have ever achieved, but it serves as a reminder of the incredible possibilities that exist in the game of golf.


An ace is another term for a hole-in-one, and it is a moment of pure magic on the golf course. When a golfer hits a perfect shot that finds the bottom of the cup on a -3 hole, they have achieved an ace. It is a shot that requires precision, skill, and a little bit of luck. A hole-in-one is a rare occurrence that is celebrated by golfers around the world, and it is often accompanied by cheers, high-fives, and even a round of drinks at the clubhouse. An ace is a moment that every golfer aspires to experience at least once in their lifetime.


In golf, the term “snowman” refers to a score of 8 on a single hole. While it may not be the most desirable score to achieve, it is a term that brings a touch of humor to the game. The snowman is a reminder that even the best golfers can have a bad hole now and then. It serves as a reminder to stay focused, maintain composure, and keep pushing forward, even in the face of adversity. While a snowman may not be the score golfers aim for, it is a reminder that golf is a game of highs and lows, and every hole presents a new challenge to overcome.

Golf Handicap Terms

Handicap Index:

The Handicap Index is a numerical value that represents a golfer’s playing ability. It is calculated based on the scores the golfer has achieved in previous rounds of golf. The Handicap Index is used to determine the golfer’s Course Handicap, which is specific to the golf course being played.

Course Handicap:

The Course Handicap is a number that is derived from the Handicap Index and is specific to the golf course being played. It is used to adjust the golfer’s score so that players of different abilities can compete against each other on an equal footing. The Course Handicap takes into account the difficulty of the course and provides a fair way to compare scores.

Net Score:

The Net Score is the golfer’s score after the Course Handicap has been applied. It represents the actual number of strokes the golfer took to complete the round, taking into account their skill level and the difficulty of the course. The Net Score allows golfers of different abilities to compete against each other by leveling the playing field.

Gross Score:

The Gross Score is the golfer’s score before any adjustments are made for their handicap. It represents the actual number of strokes the golfer took to complete the round, without taking into account their skill level or the difficulty of the course. The Gross Score is a raw measure of a golfer’s performance and is used to calculate their Handicap Index.

Slope Rating:

The Slope Rating is a measure of the relative difficulty of a golf course for a golfer compared to a scratch golfer. It is expressed as a number between 55 and 155, with 113 being the standard rating. The Slope Rating takes into account factors such as the length of the course, the layout, and the obstacles present. A higher Slope Rating indicates a more challenging course, while a lower Slope Rating indicates an easier course.

In summary, understanding these golf handicap terms is essential for any golfer who wants to compete on a fair and level playing field. The Handicap Index and Course Handicap allow golfers of different abilities to compete against each other, while the Net Score and Gross Score provide a measure of a golfer’s performance. The Slope Rating helps golfers assess the difficulty of a course and adjust their expectations accordingly. By familiarizing yourself with these terms, you can navigate the world of golf handicapping with confidence and enjoy the game to its fullest.

Match Play Scoring Terms


In golf, the term “concede” refers to when one player acknowledges that the opponent’s next stroke would have been successful, and therefore, the opponent is awarded the hole without having to actually complete that stroke. It’s a way to save time and effort on the golf course and is usually done when the outcome of the hole is already determined. For example, if Player A has a putt for a and Player B has a putt for a , Player A can concede the hole to Player B since the outcome of the hole is already clear. This can be a strategic move to conserve energy and focus on the remaining holes.


“Dormie” is a term used in golf to indicate a situation where one player holds a lead that is equal to the number of holes remaining. For example, if there are two holes left to play and Player A is leading by two holes, they are said to be “dormie.” In this situation, Player A only needs to halve (tie) one of the remaining holes to win the match. If Player B wins both of the remaining holes, the match would end in a tie and typically proceed to a sudden-death playoff or extra holes to determine the winner. Dormie adds an extra layer of excitement and tension to as both players strive to secure or overturn the lead.


When a hole in ends with both players or teams achieving the same score, it is referred to as “halved.” This means that neither player gains an advantage or wins the hole. Instead, the hole is considered tied, and the players move on to the next hole without any change in the score. The term “halved” can also be used to describe the overall match when both players or teams have won an equal number of holes, resulting in a tie. In this case, additional holes may be played to determine the winner or the match could end in a draw.


Fourball is a format where two players form a team and play against another team of two players. Each player plays their own ball throughout the round, and the team’s score for a hole is determined by the lowest score among the two players. For example, if Player A scores a 4 on a hole and Player B scores a 5, the team’s score for that hole is 4. This format encourages teamwork and allows players to rely on their partner’s performance to achieve the best possible outcome on each hole. Fourball can be an exciting and dynamic format, as players strategize to maximize their team’s score while also challenging their opponents.


Foursomes, also known as alternate shot, is a format where teams of two players compete against each other. Unlike fourball, in foursomes, the players on each team alternate hitting the same ball. For example, Player A tees off on the first hole, and then Player B hits the second shot, and they continue to alternate until the ball is holed. The team with the lowest score on a hole wins that hole. Foursomes require strong teamwork and coordination, as players must carefully plan their shots and rely on each other’s skills. It adds a strategic element to the game, as players must decide who will tee off on odd or even-numbered holes to play to their strengths. Foursomes can be a challenging and exciting format, testing both individual skill and team dynamics.

Stroke Play Scoring Terms

Medal Play

Medal Play is the most common form of scoring in golf. It is also known as Stroke Play. In Medal Play, each golfer’s score is recorded for every hole, and the total number of strokes is added up at the end of the round. The golfer with the lowest total score is the winner. This format is used in most professional tournaments and is also popular among amateur golfers. Medal Play is a true test of a golfer’s skill and consistency, as every stroke counts towards the final score.


Stableford scoring is a more forgiving format compared to Medal Play. Instead of counting the total number of strokes, each hole is assigned a certain number of points based on the score relative to . The objective is to accumulate as many points as possible. Under the Stableford system, golfers earn points based on their score on each hole. For example, a score of par earns the golfer two points, while a earns three points, and a earns one point. The golfer with the highest number of points at the end of the round is the winner. Stableford scoring encourages aggressive play, as golfers can still earn points even if they have a bad hole.

Modified Stableford

Modified Stableford is a variation of the Stableford scoring system. It is often used in professional tournaments where the course is particularly challenging. In Modified Stableford, golfers earn points based on their score relative to a predetermined target score for each hole. For example, a might be worth four points, while a is worth minus one point. The objective is still to accumulate as many points as possible, but the scoring is adjusted to reflect the difficulty of the course. This format adds an extra layer of strategy to the game, as golfers need to carefully consider their approach on each hole.


Skins is a popular betting game among golfers. In Skins, each hole is worth a certain amount of money, known as a “skin.” The golfer who has the lowest score on a hole wins the skin for that hole. In the event of a tie, the skin carries over to the next hole, increasing its value. Skins can be played with any number of players, and the value of each skin can be predetermined or determined by the players themselves. This format adds an element of competition and excitement to the game, as golfers have the opportunity to win money on each hole.

Peoria System

The Peoria System is a handicap-based scoring system that is often used in casual golf tournaments. It is designed to level the playing field by giving higher handicapped golfers a better chance of competing against lower handicapped golfers. In the Peoria System, a golfer’s handicap is determined based on their performance on a randomly selected nine holes of the course. The handicap is then used to adjust the golfer’s score on the remaining nine holes. This format allows golfers of different skill levels to compete on an equal footing and adds an element of unpredictability to the game.

In conclusion, Stroke Play Scoring Terms encompass a variety of scoring formats in golf. From the traditional Medal Play to the more forgiving Stableford and Modified Stableford systems, each format offers a unique challenge and strategy. Skins adds an exciting betting element to the game, while the Peoria System levels the playing field for golfers of different skill levels. Whether you prefer the precision of counting every stroke or the thrill of accumulating points, there is a scoring format that suits your playing style. So, next time you hit the golf course, consider trying out one of these scoring systems to add a new dimension to your game.

Leave a Comment