What the dots on your golf scorecard mean about your handicap
Golf Culture

What the dots on your golf scorecard mean about your handicap


If you've ever showed up to compete in a golf tournament of any kind, there's a good chance you've received your scorecard for the day and seen dots on it. You might have been perplexed to see some dots on your card, and you were wondering what they meant.

Well, the dots on your scorecard are used to indicate the number of handicap strokes you get on that hole. They're on the card to let you know those holes so you can play accordingly and make doing the math of your net score -- your gross score minus your handicap -- easier.

Here's how the dots are placed on the card:

  • If your handicap index translates to a 12 on the golf course you're playing, then you'll have one dot in your score box on the card for the 12 hardest holes on the course. You won't get any dots on the card for the other six holes.
  • If you're getting 20 strokes that day, then you'll have one dot in the score box for 16 holes and two dots in the score box for the two hardest holes on the golf course. After you get 18 strokes on a golf course, the 19th handicap stroke is applied to the No. 1 handicap hole on a course, and it follows from there on to 36 strokes, the maximum handicap.

At the end of the round, you're going to have two scores, a gross score that is your actual score for the round and your net score, which is your gross score minus your handicap strokes.

About the author

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is currently a +2.6 USGA handicap, and he has covered dozens of major championships and professional golf tournaments. He likes writing about golf and making it more accessible by answering the complex questions fans have about the pro game or who want to understand how to play golf better.

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