Stroke Play or Medal
Stroke play is an 18 hole cumulative score competition where the golfer with the best overall score after 18 holes wins. In stroke play you are going up against the course and trying to out play your fellow competitors.
Stroke Play – RandA Rule 3.3
Purpose: Stroke play has specific Rules (particularly for scorecards and holing out) because:
- Each player competes against all the other players in the competition, and
- All players need to be treated equally under the Rules.
After the round, the player and the marker (who keeps the player’s score) must certify that the player’s score for each hole is right and the player must return the scorecard to the Committee.
a – Winner in Stroke Play
The player who completes all rounds in the fewest total strokes (including strokes made and penalty strokes) is the winner.
In a handicap competition, this means the fewest total net strokes.
See Committee Procedures, Section 5A(6) (the Terms of the Competition should say how ties will be decided)
b Scoring in Stroke Play
The player’s score is kept on his or her scorecard by the marker, who is either identified by the Committee or chosen by the player in a way approved by the Committee.
The player must use the same marker for the entire round, unless the Committee approves a change either before or after it happens.
(1) Marker’s Responsibility: Entering and Certifying Hole Scores on Scorecard. After each hole during the round, the marker should confirm with the player the number of strokes on that hole (including strokes made and penalty strokes) and enter that gross score on the scorecard.
When the round has ended:
- The marker must certify the hole scores on the scorecard.
- If the player had more than one marker, each marker must certify the scores for those holes where he or she was the marker.
(2) Player’s Responsibility: Certifying Hole Scores and Returning Scorecard. During the round, the player should keep track of his or her scores for each hole.
When the round has ended, the player:
- Should carefully check the hole scores entered by the marker and raise any issues with the Committee,
- Must make sure that the marker certifies the hole scores on the scorecard,
- Must not change a hole score entered by the marker except with the marker’s agreement or the Committee’s approval, and
- Must certify the hole scores on the scorecard and promptly return it to the Committee, after which the player must not change the scorecard.
If the player breaches any of these requirements in Rule 3.3b, the player is disqualified.
Exception – No Penalty When Breach Due to Marker Failing to Carry Out Responsibilities: There is no penalty if the Committee finds that the player’s breach of Rule 3.3b(2) was caused by the marker’s failure to carry out his or her responsibilities (such as the marker leaving with the player’s scorecard or without certifying the scorecard), so long as this was beyond the player’s control.
See Committee Procedures, Section 5A(5) (recommendations on how to define when a scorecard has been returned).
(3) Wrong Score for a Hole. If the player returns a scorecard with a wrong score for any hole:
- Returned Score Higher Than Actual Score. The higher returned score for the hole stands.
- Returned Score Lower Than Actual Score or No Score Returned. The player is disqualified.
Exception – Failure to Include Unknown Penalty: If one or more of the player’s hole scores are lower than the actual scores because he or she excluded one or more penalty strokes that the player did not know about before returning the scorecard:
- The player is not disqualified.
- Instead, if the mistake is found before the close of the competition, the Committee will revise the player’s score for that hole or holes by adding the penalty stroke(s) that should have been included in the score for that hole or holes under the Rules.
This exception does not apply:
- When the excluded penalty is disqualification, or
- When the player was told that a penalty might apply or was uncertain whether a penalty applied and did not raise this with the Committee before returning the scorecard.
(4) Scoring in Handicap Competition. The player is responsible for making sure that his or her handicap is shown on the scorecard. If the player returns a scorecard without the right handicap:
- Handicap on Scorecard Too High or No Handicap Shown. If this affects the number of strokes the player gets, the player is disqualified from the handicap competition. If it does not, there is no penalty.
- Handicap on Scorecard Too Low. There is no penalty and the player’s net score stands using the lower handicap as shown.
(5) Player Not Responsible for Adding Up Scores or Applying Handicap. The Committee is responsible for adding up the player’s hole scores and, in a handicap competition, applying the player’s handicap strokes.
If the player returns a scorecard on which he or she has made a mistake in adding up the scores or applying handicap strokes, there is no penalty for doing so.
c Failure to Hole Out
A player must hole out at each hole in a round. If the player fails to hole out at any hole:
- The player must correct that mistake before making a stroke to begin another hole or, for the final hole of the round, before returning the scorecard.
- If the mistake is not corrected in that time, the player is disqualified.
See Rules 21.1, 21.2 and 21.3 (Rules for other forms of stroke play (Stableford, Maximum Score and Par/Bogey) where scoring is different and a player is not disqualified if he or she does not hole out).