What follows is applicable to our immediate golf group. It is recommended for all golf groups. It’s a combination of policy and “The Law” of the USGA Handicap System. If you find yourself keeping score in our regular golf group, please make certain you are familiar with these guidelines and adhere to them rigorously.
We putt everything out – all the way out. A ball that stops a quarter inch from the hole MUST be putted INTO the hole. Admittedly, few (with the possible exception of this writer) has more than a one-in-a-million chance of missing that putt, but it still must be putted into the hole.
Why? Because if there is ever an exception to the rule, then we have tacitly accepted “exceptions”. Once we accept one exception, we have opened Pandora’s Box and it becomes a question of “What is an acceptable exception?” If a quarter inch putt is forgiven, then it becomes a half inch putt, then one inch, then four, then twelve, thirty and the collapse of the rules is complete and our system is poisoned. Putt them out.
On to scorekeeping …
If someone fails to put the ball into the hole, a scorekeeper is duty bound to (1) record what in the opinion of the scorekeeper is the player’s “most probable” score and (2) denote that score with a “X” placed by it on the card. The “X” (depending upon the game format) will be construed as a disqualification (in the event of individual stroke play) or the highest score imaginable in a team game or Stableford format.
We’re still operating under the “benevolent dictator rule”. If someone absentmindedly picks up a two inch putt either because he’s new to the group and doesn’t understand the rules or he carries the evolutionary remnants of bad gimme habits, the scorekeeper MAY in his sole discretion allow the player to replace his ball on the spot from which it was lifted and complete the hole with no penalty.
“Most probable” score or “ESC” (equitable stroke control) score. The scorekeeper should record the MOST PROBABLE score. Even though a player with a course handicap of nineteen cannot post a hole score greater the seven, the score can (and should) be adjusted at the time of posting into the GHIN system.
A couple of questions and answers may help eliminate any confusion.
- A player’s sixth shot comes to rest two inches from the hole. He slaps it away and says “That’s a seven.” What’s the scorekeeper to record?
The scorekeeper writes down a seven. That is the “most probable score”. However, the scorekeeper is obligated to record an “X” adjacent to the seven. The player didn’t finish the hole and is either disqualified from the match or from the hole.
- A player’s second shot lies seventy yards from the green on a par five hole. The player’s partner in a two player “best ball” puts his eighty yard wedge into the hole for a gross eagle. His partner pockets his ball and doesn’t finish the hole. What is the second player’s score?
As in the previous case, the “most probable score” is recorded. But now there’s some leeway as to what the most probable score might be. If the person’s a low handicap golfer, chances are he’ll hit the next shot onto the green and two-putt. A five is the “most probable score”. If he’s a twenty-six handicap, a six or even a seven could be justified. However, an “X” must still be written on whatever score is recorded.
- A twenty-one handicap golfer (maximum allowable score for posting is eight) is out of the hole for the game being played. He lies seven twenty-two feet from the hole. He picks up and says “Just give me an eight.” What does the scorekeeper record?
Again, an “X” is an absolute requirement. If he makes the long putt, he gets an eight (his maximum), but odds are he’s not going to drain a twenty-two footer especially in his current state of discombobulation. The scorekeeper should record a nine (if not a ten – if he’s three putted the last five holes). The correct answer is “x9”.
For our system to function, we have got to maintain certain inalterable standards. The scorekeeper’s role is critical to the integrity and success of our system. Nobody likes missing a two foot putt; trust me – I’m an expert on that front). But nobody likes playing in a group when different rules and different standards apply to different golfers, especially when there’s a nickel or two on the line.
Play’em down! Putt’em out! Record the correct scores!