Rules Clinic – Scoring (805.02)

Important Rules That are Often Overlooked
Rule 805.02 Scoring

One of the most important, but frequently overlooked aspects of playing a tournament is properly scoring the round.  Most players have their own way of keeping score when they play a casual round, and it is usually a method that makes it easy for them and their companions to keep track of their scores.  Not that there’s anything wrong with any scoring method as long as it provides you with an accurate score at the end of your round, but for fairness and simplicity’s sake, there is a standard disc golf scoring method that is required for all tournament play.

The required standard can be found in the PDGA rulebook (rule 805.02).  It not only describes who is responsible for scoring during a tournament round, but how it is to be done and what penalties exist (yes, penalties) when a card is scored or added incorrectly.  Let’s take the rule piece by piece and flesh it out.

805.02  Scoring
A. The player listed first on the scorecard(s) bears primary responsibility for picking up the group’s scorecard(s).
B. Players in the group shall rotate the scorekeeping task proportionally, unless a player or a scorekeeper volunteers to keep score more and that is acceptable to all members of the group.

This covers the start of the tournament round.  The scorecards for your group will be made available by the tournament director via a scoreport/scoreboard system or he/she will call out the groupings individually.  The first person listed for the group is the person responsible for picking up the cards and carrying them to begin the round.

Each member of the group is expected to keep score for the entire group for a portion of the round.  The most common and effective way to divvy up responsibility is to follow the original teeing order from the first hole of the round.  In other words, the first player listed would score the first few holes, the second player listed would take over from there, then the third, and so on.  In a standard 18-hole round, each player should score at least three holes of the round (in a five-some) and no more than six (in a three-some).

C. After each hole is completed, the scorekeeper shall call out each player’s name. The called player shall answer with the score in a manner that is clear to all players of the group and the scorekeeper. The scorekeeper shall record that score and read it back, in a manner that is clear to all players of the group. If there is any disagreement about the score a player reports, the group must review the hole and attempt to arrive at the correct score. If the group cannot reach consensus on the player’s score, they shall consult 805.01.

On the course, this is by far the most important part of scoring to remember.  The first step, that is not included in the rule but really should be, is to clear the green before the scorecard is taken out.  To keep the play flowing, all scoring should be done at the next tee.  Writing down scores while still standing near the basket is considered a huge faux pas on the disc golf course, tournament or not, so always remember to clear off before scoring.

Once you’re at the next tee, the scorer should call out each player by name and the player should call out their score.  It should be done in such a manner that the entire group can hear and if necessary, verify.  As the scorekeeper, it is not sufficient to simply ask the group “All ‘threes’ there?” or “Was Joe the only deuce?” and then write down your memory of the scores for all players.  Calling each score aloud allows for any possible discrepancies to be dealt with immediately while the hole is still fresh in everyone’s minds.

When you are asked to announce your score, the proper answer is always the actual number of throws you made plus any penalty throws you incurred.  Saying “par” or “birdie” or “bogey” won’t suffice. This is very important, especially when you find yourself in a tournament group with unfamiliar players.  What par is on a given hole may be defined differently by different people.  A course local may know that posted par on hole #5 is four, but an out-of-towner won’t necessarily know that.  Better to avoid confusion and just give the number.  Which leads us to the next section of the rule:

D. The scorekeeper shall record the score for each player on each hole as the total number of throws, including penalty throws. The total score for the round shall also be recorded as the sum of all hole scores, plus any additional penalty throws. The use of anything other than a number (including the lack of a score) represents an incorrect hole or total score and is subject to penalty as described below.

Just as with announcing one’s score, the actual number of throws made on a given hole should be what is recorded on the scorecard.  Markings such as plusses, minuses, slashes, dots, or the like are not acceptable.  At the end of the round, the total score should also be recorded as the total number of throws made during the round.  Score relative to par such as “-5” or “+2” are not acceptable because, again, par can be defined differently by different people.  If you shot a 62, then the number “62” should be what is written on the scorecard as your total.

The overriding reason for recording scores as numerals is for score verification, both by other players and the tournament director and staff.  If another player or the tournament director can not decipher the meaning of the markings on the card or is not familiar with the par on the course, they will be unable to re-count your score to verify it.  An impatient tournament director is well within his power to ask you to re-write your scorecard using the correct method and then penalize you for turning in the incorrect scorecard.  Don’t run the risk and be sure to write down actual scores for each hole and your total.

E. Warnings and penalty throws given to a player for rules infractions shall be noted on the scorecard.

There are two commonly accepted methods for noting penalties on a scorecard.  The first is to circle the score on the hole in which the penalty was incurred.  For example, if you threw your tee shot out-of-bounds, then threw an approach shot and a putt, you would record your score as “4” with a circle around it.  Often, players will announce their score as “circle-4” in that situation to emphasize the penalty included in the score.  On a hole in which multiple penalties are incurred, multiple circles can be made around the score, as in “double-circle-6” or “triple-circle-9”.

The second method is to write a small “P” in a corner of the score box of the hole in which the penalty was incurred.  Such a score is often announced as a “4P” or a “4 with a P”.  Again, with multiple penalties on a given hole, multiple “P”s can be recorded in the score box.

Warnings tend to be a rare occurrence, but when necessary, warnings can be noted on the back of or in the margins of a scorecard.  What should be noted is the player’s name, the hole on which the warning occurred and the reason for which the warning was issued.  It is especially important to note the hole in case a further penalty results from the warning.  Noting the sequence of events is important when reporting to the tournament director.

F. At the end of the round, each player shall sign the scorecard to attest to the accuracy of the score on each hole as well as the total score. If all players of the group agree that a hole score was recorded in error, the score may be changed prior to the scorecard being turned in. Players whose scorecards are turned in unsigned accept responsibility for the scores recorded.

Simply a method of verification, signing or initialing the scorecard prior to turning it in states to the tournament director that you have checked and accept the score as recorded on the scorecard.  All too often, when a score is added incorrectly or the score listed on the scoreboard is not what the player remembered shooting, the excuse is that they did not see or verify the scorecard before it was turned in.  Whether signed or not, once the card is in, it is in and can not be changed without penalty.  Every player is responsible for their own score, regardless of who had possession of the scorecard last.  Initialing the scorecard after every round is a verifiable way of making sure you accept and agree with the score being turned in.

G. All players are responsible for returning their scorecards within 30 minutes of the completion of a round. The round has been officially completed for all competitors when the last group on the course has completed their final hole and has had, in the Director’s opinion, reasonable time to travel from their final hole to tournament headquarters. Failure to turn in the scorecard on time shall result in the assessment of two penalty throws, without a warning, to each player listed on the late scorecard.

Every once in a while, the following incident will occur at a tournament: After everyone has checked and signed the card, one person volunteers to bring the scorecard back to the tournament director.  On his way, he becomes distracted talking to a buddy or gets rushed off to grab some lunch and forgets to turn in the card.  Regardless of which individual fails to turn in the card(s), all of the players involved are penalized.

The best remedy for this is to follow your card (or carry it yourself) and ensure that it is turned in.  Even if you leave the responsibility with someone else, YOU will be penalized if the card does not make it to the TD in time.  Save yourself and your group-mates the trouble and make sure the card(s) gets turned in.

H. After the scorecard is turned in, the total score as recorded shall stand with no appeal, except for the following circumstances:

1. Penalty throws may be assessed at whatever time the infraction is discovered until the Director declares the tournament officially over or all awards have been distributed.
2. If it is determined that the total score was incorrectly recorded, either by an error on a hole score or by an error in totaling the hole scores, including omission of the total score, the director shall add two penalty throws to the correct total score. These penalty throws are not added when the Director corrects a player’s score for other infractions determined after the player had turned in an otherwise correct scorecard.

This section, while the last in the rule, is perhaps the most important, since it explains the strong penalties involved with scoring violations.  Any error on the scorecard, whether it is a mis-added total or forgetting to write the total or not scoring properly, is an automatic two-throw penalty added to the correct score.

A lot of folks think that the mandatory two-throw penalty is rather harsh for the “crime”, but really, it only emphasizes how important proper and correct scoring is in a tournament.  So it is well worth the time to double-check and even triple-check your scorecard before it is turned in.  It could be the difference between winning and second place.  It seems there is always at least one “victim” of this rule at nearly every tournament, don’t let it be you.