Why keep score in golf? This fundamental question is likely garnering many quizzical looks right now, but it is a legitimate question. Short of competition, does the score really matter or is it an arbitrary number that does not really mean that much? If we are only competing against ourselves during most rounds, than the score really should not matter that much. The joy of hitting the ball into the hole is the goal of each hole and if we succeed at this small task, then how many strokes it took really is irrelevant. Right? Yet, most golfers (including myself most rounds) feel it is important to equate our success to the score. This might be the wrong approach for beginners and I dare say some more experienced players!
The reason most players are focused on score is because they like to compare themselves against their peers. There seems to be some inalienable thought that shooting the lowest score makes you the better player on that day. I would suggest that this line of thinking is folly. The reason is because most amateurs do not follow all the rules of golf, allow themselves do-overs, take gimmies, and may not count all their penalty strokes. I do not say this out of meanness, but more from the reality of watching golfers over the years. I will admit that sometimes I fall into this category, but know the difference that my score is not indicative of how well I played on any given day. Some days, I just want to have fun on the links and taking an extra drive makes that happen.
The real test of a players ability to keep proper score is to play in competitions. Primarily stroke tournaments where everything is counted. This is where the real test of a players success is tied to score. I cannot count the number of players who were shocked by their poorest round of the year when their score in a tournament is substantially above what they normally shot. I would suggest that their approach of correlating their play to their score outside of tournaments is giving them a false sense of success.
Over the past five years, I have gravitated away from the score being the tops of the pops. As you can see from the scorecard above that I track fairways, greens in regulation and putts. The two I am most concerned with are GIR and putts. If I have over a 50% GIR score and less than 30 putts, then I feel my round was successful regardless of the score. However, I will tell you that if those two stats are strong, the score takes care of itself. I feel that by capturing these three little stats, I garner a better feel and understanding of my success on the links during those rounds.
Most golfers keep score. The use it as their benchmark for success and for the most part, works for them. I would suggest that chasing a score is sometimes the wrong approach and can cause players additional anxiety for no reason. Personally, the three stats work for me and as such, will continue to keep this method of tracking my success in future rounds.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!