When fans tune in to watch a professional golf tournament on the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour or DP World Tour, they'll quite commonly see an asterisk (*) on the leaderboard or a tournament scoreboard -- particularly during the first two rounds of the tournament.
The asterisk tells golf fans some important information about a golfer and where they started their round.
What does an asterisk mean on a golf leaderboard?
On a golf leaderboard, an asterisk is used to tell us where a golfer started their round.
In golf, it's typically assumed that a golfer starts their round on the first hole, playing the course in ordinal fashion, from No. 1 through No. 18. However, that's not always the case. In fact, it's quite common that it's not the case.
During the first two rounds of most professional golf tournaments these days, the field is split into two waves of tee times: morning and afternoon. Then the two time waves are further split into waves: players going off the first tee and players going off the 10th tee. It's for the latter of those two groups that the asterisk is needed.
An asterisk is next to a player's name or the number of holes they've played in a round to indicate that the player started on a tee different than the first hole. Almost always, that tee is the 10th tee. However, there are some golf courses where the 10th tee isn't particularly close to the clubhouse or easy to access compared to the first tee. At those venues, sometimes the ninth or 11th tee is used instead as the alternate starting tee.
When that asterisk is next to the number of holes a player has played, that figure still tells us the number of holes played, just not the next hole they're playing. If a player is shown having played 10 holes with an asterisk next to their name, then they have played Nos. 10-18, as well as No. 1, meaning they're playing the second hole. In a similar example with the asterisk, if they've played six holes, then they've played Nos. 10-15 and are on the 16th hole of the course at the moment.
This is a simple way to indicate to a viewer or golf fan where the player they're tracking started and where they could go to watch them play.