Although the amount of numbers on a golf scorecard can seem daunting at first, even a beginner golfer can learn how to read a golf scorecard with a little bit of practice. Knowing how to read a golf scorecard and keep score is an important skill to learn when you start golfing, especially since the scorecard contains important information about the difficulty of the course.
- Examine the different tee boxes. A golf scorecard contains information on the difficulty of the course played from several different tee boxes, including professional golfers, men, ladies and juniors. These are usually denoted by the different colors in the leftmost column of the golf scorecard. What tee you use will affect the difficulty of the course.
- Examine the course rating and slope rating. The set of numbers next to the tee boxes on the scorecard denote the course's difficulty for different levels of golfers. The first number is the course rating, which gives the course difficulty for a par golfer–someone who can play a course in 72 strokes. The second number is the slope rating, which gives the course difficulty for the bogey golfer–someone who can play a course in 90 strokes. The average slope rating for a golf course is 113.
- Note the distance, par and handicap for each hole. The hole numbers, one through eighteen, are listed on the top row of the golf scorecard. The numbers directly underneath each hole number show the distance to the hole from each tee. The numbers underneath that show the handicap for each hole. The handicap gives information about the hole's difficulty compared to the others in the course, and helps you calculate handicaps for different players at the end of the game. The next numbers show the par for each hole–the number of strokes it should take to play the hole.
- Write your name and score. Your name, and the names of other golfers in the game, should go in the leftmost column of the golf scorecard. Record your score for each hole under that hole number in the same row as your name. Add up your numbers to calculate your score for the course, which you should record in the rightmost column.
- Note any special markings. Some golfers mark scorecards with a circle for a birdie (one stroke below par), two circles for an eagle (two strokes below par), one square for a bogey (one stroke above par) and two squares for a double bogey (two strokes above par).