How to Read Golf Scores on TV

Golf is a popular sport enjoyed by millions of fans worldwide, and watching golf tournaments on television is a common pastime for enthusiasts. To fully appreciate the competition, it’s important to understand how to read golf scores on TV. Golf scoring can appear complex at first, but with some guidance, you can easily follow along and appreciate the players’ performance. In this guide, we’ll break down the key components of golf scores on TV.

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1. Player Names and Positions

When watching a golf tournament on TV, the first thing you’ll notice is the display of player names and their respective positions. These are typically shown at the top or bottom of the screen. The players’ names are listed along with their current scores relative to par. For example, you might see “Tiger Woods -4,” which means Tiger Woods is currently at 4 strokes under par.

2. Leaderboard

The leaderboard is a crucial element of watching golf on TV. It displays a list of players and their scores in relation to par. The leaderboard provides an overview of how each golfer is performing and who is leading the tournament. The player with the lowest score (furthest under par) is usually at the top of the leaderboard.

3. Par Information

Par is a standard that represents the number of strokes a skilled golfer should take to complete a specific hole or the entire course. Golf courses typically have 18 holes, and each hole has a designated par value, usually ranging from 3 to 5 strokes. On TV broadcasts, the par value for each hole is usually displayed next to the hole number. This information helps viewers understand how well or poorly a golfer is performing on a particular hole.

4. Scorecard Graphics

Many TV broadcasts also feature a graphic representation of the golf course, known as the scorecard. This graphic provides viewers with a visual representation of the course layout, including the placement of hazards, bunkers, and greens. It often includes information about the hole’s yardage and par value. This helps viewers follow along with the players’ progress as they navigate the course.

5. Live Scoring Updates

As the tournament progresses, TV broadcasts provide live scoring updates for the players on the course. When a golfer completes a hole, their updated score is displayed on the screen, showing how they performed on that particular hole and their overall score in relation to par.

6. Special Symbols and Icons

To make it easier for viewers to understand the status of the game, TV broadcasts often use special symbols and icons. These can include “+” and “-” signs to indicate whether a player is over or under par on a specific hole. Additionally, icons may be used to highlight birdies (one stroke under par) and eagles (two strokes under par), showcasing exceptional play.

7. Moving the Cut Line

In some tournaments, there is a “cut line” that determines which players continue to play in the later rounds. TV broadcasts will often display this cut line and update it as the tournament progresses. Players who are below the cut line will not advance to the next round.

8. Player Statistics

In addition to basic scores and positions, TV broadcasts often provide viewers with more in-depth player statistics. These statistics can include fairways hit, greens in regulation, number of putts, driving distance, and more. These insights help viewers gain a deeper understanding of a golfer’s performance and playing style.

9. Highlight Replays

TV broadcasts of golf tournaments frequently feature highlight replays of exceptional shots or pivotal moments. These replays can help you appreciate the skill and precision required in golf. It’s common to see these highlights accompanied by commentary and analysis to provide context and insights into the shot.

10. On-Course Interviews

During a golf tournament, you may also see on-course interviews with players. These interviews provide an opportunity for viewers to hear directly from the golfers about their strategies, thoughts, and emotions during the round. It adds a personal touch to the broadcast and allows fans to connect with the players.

11. Tournament Information

Throughout the broadcast, you’ll also find information about the tournament itself. This includes details about the venue, the history of the event, prize money, and the format of the competition. Understanding these aspects can deepen your appreciation of the significance of the tournament.

12. Scoring Updates for the Field

In addition to individual player scores, TV broadcasts often provide updates on how the entire field is performing. This includes the number of players under par, over par, and those who are making significant moves up or down the leaderboard. These updates give you a broader perspective on the overall competition.

13. Final Round Excitement

As a golf tournament nears its conclusion, the TV coverage becomes more intense. The leaderboard may become more crowded as players jockey for position. TV graphics may also include projected finishing positions based on current performance, adding to the drama and suspense of the final round.

14. Overtime and Playoffs

In the event of a tie at the end of regulation play, some tournaments go into overtime or playoffs. TV broadcasts will provide coverage of these exciting sudden-death or playoff holes, often showing shot-by-shot coverage of the playoff to determine the winner.

Golf Score Terminology

ParThe expected score for a holePar 4The standard number of strokes a skilled golfer should take to complete the hole.
BirdieOne stroke under parBirdie on a Par 4Scoring one stroke less than the hole’s par.
EagleTwo strokes under parEagle on a Par 5Scoring two strokes less than the hole’s par.
BogeyOne stroke over parBogey on a Par 3Scoring one stroke more than the hole’s par.
Double BogeyTwo strokes over parDouble Bogey on a Par 5Scoring two strokes more than the hole’s par.

Golf Score Abbreviations

DNFDid Not FinishDNFWhen a player doesn’t complete the round.
WDWithdrawnWDWhen a player withdraws from the tournament.
CUTMissed the CutCUTWhen a player’s score is too high to continue to the next round.
TTiedT-3Indicates a player’s position when tied with others.
EEven ParEWhen a player’s score equals the hole’s par.

Scoring System

Scoring SystemDescription
Stroke PlayTotal number of strokes are counted for each player.
Match PlayHoles won and lost determine the outcome of the match.
StablefordPoints awarded based on a player’s score relative to par.
Modified StablefordPlayers earn points for specific achievements on each hole.
FourballTwo-player teams, and the best score for each hole counts.

Golf Tournament Formats

Tournament FormatDescription
Stroke PlayEach player completes all rounds, and the player with the lowest total score wins.
Match PlayPlayers compete head-to-head, with the winner of each hole awarded a point.
FourballTwo-player teams, and the best score for each hole counts for the team.
ScrambleTeam format where each player hits, and the team chooses the best shot.
SkinsPlayers compete for individual holes with a designated value (skin) for each hole.



Watching golf on TV can be an immersive and enjoyable experience when you understand how to read golf scores and appreciate the various elements of the broadcast. Whether you’re following your favorite golfer or just enjoying the competition, these details and insights can enhance your viewing experience and help you become a more informed and engaged golf fan. So, the next time you watch a golf tournament on TV, you’ll be equipped to fully immerse yourself in the world of golf scoring and excitement.

How to Read Golf Scores on TV


  • Anglo Carson

    Anglo Carson, a Certified Golf Instructor, embarked on a remarkable journey, driven by his unwavering love for golf. He founded The Golf Mine with a singular mission - to create a golfing haven where passion knows no boundaries. His lifelong love affair with golf, combined with his expertise as a Certified Golf Instructor, turned into a vision to share his extensive knowledge, inspire, and promote the game he holds dear.

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