Why I Don’t Keep Score When I Golf
I used to keep score when I golfed. I generally would melt down, playing against the scorecard. I will play against someone my level on the rare occasion, but usually it would just be me vs the score card. The scorecard wins 4/5.
When I keep score, I keep track of my total score, and putts. My good rounds, I’m putting well. Most holes, I turn par opportunities into double bogeys. I am known for a mid round, usually 8, 9 and 10, meltdown. I will mangle a few holes throughout the round. When I’m fighting to keep it under 90 or 100, depending on how it is going, the scorecard makes sure I know how many strokes I have to play with the last few holes. I usually blow it.
So I stopped bothering to keep score. A big change I noticed, I take it 1 hole at a time. I don’t have the bad holes glaring at me as I write my score in. I know how I am scoring and putting. When I’m on hole 6, I’m not thinking about the 2nd hole I botched. My focus is on the hole I’m playing, not the disasters behind me. I’m more at ease as I take each shot. Will holes still frustrate me, sure. The only way I’m becoming the world’s best golfer is if millions of other golfers give it up.
I can tell how I am playing without the card. I can mentally keep track if I am having more good or bad holes. I can tell if I’m 3 putting every hole. I can guesstimate my score, and fill it in later when I think I scored well. I know what par is on the course, so I can figure out my score. Even on my best days, I’m not keeping up with the pros.
I can measure improvement from round to round. I went from ‘I had 2 or 3 good holes’ to 10 or 11 good holes. There is less pressure, because I am not focused on a number on the card. We are playing a mental game as it is, not keeping score removes an aspect that really doesn’t matter. I have friends who shoot in the 60’s and 70’s, they don’t care that I managed an 88.
Let’s look at why I golf. I get out for a few hours, laugh with friends, maybe have a few drinks. We don’t play competitively. We are rooting for each other to make that 30 foot putt. With a few exceptions, my friends and I are not in a position to brag about our score. We don’t care if someone mis-hits and takes a mulligan. We aren’t trying to figure out how many penalty shots someone racked up.
Don’t take this to mean I am opposed to keeping score. I know some want to play competitively with their friends. They have no effect on my game. If anything, it amuses me when one is up against a tree and the ‘play it as it lies’ arguments start. I take the side that it is man made, as the course designer decided that tree should be there.
I know some people keep track of their handicap, I have no idea of what mine is. Just pencil me in for the highest. I did find out from people that keep everyone’s score that the highest score you can enter is an 8. It saved me a few strokes on long par 5’s. I will stop on a hole at double par, not including penalty strokes and at a 3 putt. This is for the foursome behind me, not my score.
So should you keep score? It depends. If you want to keep score, do it. If you just want to hit the ball, go for it. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. But you can always laugh at the person who takes 6 shots to get on the green, 3 putts then says they got a 5.
By Sebastian Wyczawski