How to Read Golf Scores on TV: Ultimate Guide for Enthusiasts 

Mark Crossfield
9 Min Read

Ever scratched your head trying to decipher how to read golf scores on TV?

You’re not alone. Every weekend, countless golf enthusiasts, from seasoned players to newbie spectators, get puzzled by the plethora of symbols and digits that flood their TV screens. The sport of golf, with its deep-rooted history and etiquette, sometimes doesn’t make it easy for viewers.

So, how do you read golf scores on TV? In its simplest form, those numbers tell you how many strokes over or under par a golfer is, with “E” signifying they are even with the par.

But, there’s a myriad of nuances that make the journey fascinating. Let’s dive right in and decode this riddle so you’re never left scratching your head again!

Key Facts:

  • Golf thrives on the principle: Lower scores are better. (Source: Team Research)
  • An average golf course has 18 holes waiting to challenge players. (Source: Team Research)
  • Scores displayed are generally juxtaposed to the “par”. (Source: Team Research)
  • Par can be 3, 4, or 5 for a hole, denoting the number of strokes an adept player is expected to take. (Source: Team Research)
  • Televised golf tournaments flaunt their leaderboard visuals, which can seem like hieroglyphics if you don’t understand them. (Source: Team Research)

How to Read Golf Scores on TV?

Golf scores on TV are usually displayed in a table format, with the following columns:

  • Player Name: The name of the golfer.
  • Hole Number: The number of the hole that the golfer is currently on.
  • Par: The number of strokes a skilled golfer must take on that hole.
  • Score: The number of strokes the golfer has taken on that hole.
  • Under/Over Par: The golfer’s score relative to par. A negative number means the golfer is under par, while a positive number means the golfer is over par.
  • Position: The golfer’s position on the leaderboard.

For example, if the leaderboard shows the following information:

Player NameHole NumberParScoreUnder/Over ParPosition
Tiger Woods143-11
Rory McIlroy14402
Justin Thomas14513

This means that Tiger Woods is currently on hole number 1; the par for that hole is 4, and he has taken 3 strokes to complete the hole. This puts him 1 stroke under par for the tournament, and he is in first place on the leaderboard.

Golf Tournament Scoring Fundamentals

How To Read Golf Scores On Tv

Par: Golf’s Standard Measure

Whenever you see a number on the screen, it’s typically relative to par. Think of par as the gold standard, a benchmark. When I talk about a hole being a “par-3” or “par-4”, it signifies the number of strokes an expert golfer should ideally take to complete that hole.

Birdie, Eagle, Bogey: What Do They Signify?

Now, here’s where it gets riveting. A birdie means the golfer took one stroke less than par, an eagle indicates two strokes less, and the coveted albatross is three strokes less than par! Conversely, a bogey means one stroke over par, and a double bogey means two over.

Decoding the Golf Leaderboard on Television: Golf Tv Scoreboard Explained

Player Names and Positions

Ever noticed the first column on the leaderboard? That’s reserved for player names. It’s not just about ranking but also signifies their current standing in the tournament.

Interpreting the Number Next to the Score

This number is the heart of the golf leaderboard reading. It indicates how many shots over or under par a player is. Remember, in golf, unlike most sports, lower scores are preferred.

“+” and “-” Symbols on Leaderboard

When a player is doing better than the course’s par, you’ll see a “-” symbol under par. Conversely, the “+” symbol denotes they’re over par. For instance, “-3” means the player is three strokes under par.

Golf Scorecard Vs. Leaderboard: Know the Difference

Reading a Golf Scorecard

While leaderboards give a macro view, scorecards are about the micro details. Each player’s scorecard showcases their performance on each hole. It’s a deep dive into their journey, hole by hole.

The Significance of “Thru” in Leaderboards

You might spot the term “thru” followed by a number. This is the golf world’s way of telling you how many of the 18 holes a player has completed. For example, “thru 12” implies the golfer has finished 12 holes.

Advanced Insights into Golf Scores

Different Golf Scoring Systems

While the above is the traditional method, there’s also the Stableford system. Here, points are awarded based on the player’s score for each hole. It’s a fresh perspective on scoring, emphasizing aggressive play.

Understanding Golf Match Play Scores

In match play, it’s player vs. player, not player vs. course. The terminology is all about “holes up” or “holes down”. If someone says, “2 up”, it means one golfer leads by two holes.

Glossary: Mastering Golf Terminology

Being fluent in golf-speak is like mastering a new dialect. Terms like “bunker”, “hazard”, and “fairway” become second nature. Embrace this glossary as your handy reference!

FAQs About How to Read Golf Scores on TV:

How do you read golf scores?
It’s all about the strokes a player takes compared to the course’s par. The number displayed indicates strokes over or under par.

What does E mean on a golf leaderboard?
“E” stands for Even, meaning the player’s score matches the course’s par.

What does the number next to the score mean in golf?
It reveals how many shots over or under par a player is.

What does 70 mean in golf?
If a course’s par is 72 and a player scores 70, they’re two strokes under par.

What’s the difference between a golf leaderboard and scorecard?
A leaderboard shows a player’s overall standing, while a scorecard delves into performance per hole.


In a nutshell, understanding how to read golf scores on TV is all about grasping the relationship between a player’s score and the course’s par. The magic lies in the numbers and symbols, telling a gripping tale of triumphs and tribulations. As I always say, once you get the hang of it, watching golf becomes an entirely new experience, rich with drama and excitement.

Next time you tune in, will you be the one explaining the scores to your friends? I bet you will!

Key Takeaway:
Golf isn’t just a sport; it’s a narrative of highs and lows, and understanding its scoring system lets you in on its most intimate tales.

Share This Article
Mark Crossfield is a UK-based golf coach, author, and YouTuber. He simplifies complex concepts, emphasizes understanding fundamentals, and has authored several golf books. Mark has helped golfers worldwide improve their game through his coaching, online content, and contributions to magazines and TV programs.
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *