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Why a scorecard's John Hancock still matters

The First Call readers offer their opinions on whether the age-old tradition of signing for a score is still necessary

ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer
Australia'a Su Oh records her score on the 18th hole during the final round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic in 2018.

Question of the week [February 19-25]: Given today's scoring technology, should tournaments still require players to sign their scorecard?
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Given that players can call rules officials in whenever there is a question about how to proceed, I think that it should be an option for players to call in an official to verify their card before signing it.

This eliminates the gotcha moments we see now because of mistakes made by players. They should still have to sign the care, but there needs to be something done so that it can be verified by a Tour official without the potential for DQ after the fact.

Rob King
Savannah, Georgia

Although I believe the player is ultimately responsible for the recording of his score, I think his personal recorded score should be matched against the electronic version. If they match, he signs it and we’re good to go. If there is a discrepancy, they find whose error it is, correct it, sign and go.

I do not believe disqualification is necessary for the incorrect scorecard. I don’t think any PGA Tour pro is attempting to cheat the system. Access two strokes for signing the incorrect card and move on until the system is updated to the better. Also, remember the current disqualification system works whether you sign for a score that’s better or worse than you sign for. 

Barry Duckworth
Knoxville, Tennessee

In 2024, smartphones and tablets are ubiquitous. To comply with Rule 3.3 et al., the purpose of the rule is to ensure that each player competes against all other players in the competition, and all players need to be treated equally under the rules. 

Furthermore, Section b. speaks to scoring the game, where a simple amendment could occur. Section (1), in part, states the Marker’s responsibility is for entering and certifying hole scores, and the marker must certify the hole scores on the “scorecard.” 

Perhaps an edit could be made to include a "digital scoring device” in the scorecard definition. With all of the monitoring that tracks and takes place on each hole, player, and caddie, it is not unreasonable to include a live scorecard for each player during an event (via Shotlink or other means) so that at the end of the round, the player/caddie/marker could verify their score with the existing tracking taking place.    

Finally, if an oversight were caught by a slim chance, a General Penalty (2 strokes) would be sufficient. Cutting off a player’s head for an infraction seems harsh and unreasonable. 

Ralph Brown
Vacaville, California

One would think that golfers have enough to worry about than the old-fashioned scorecard. Time to let this one go and for golf to make an attempt to enter the 21st century. While we are at it, the other foolish rule is the requirement for a player to play it as it lies from a fairway divot. This is an unnecessary penalty for golfers who are in the latter groups before the cut, as well as the tournament leaders after the cut. 

Craig Whaley
Tucson, Arizona

Of course players — and players alone — should be responsible for their scores. They only need to keep track of hole-by-hole scores. They are already not responsible for adding it up. Another scorer could easily make a mistake just as a player could.

Tom Tays
West Des Moines, Iowa

I understand that it's a tradition and that each player is responsible for his or her score; however, at the PGA Tour level of play, with TV recording every stroke, along with the tracking that supports the strokes gained stats, it is time to lay the scorecard signing to rest. 

Another factor is that the financial impact on a player can be huge for a rules infraction that is just a slip-up due to a moment's distraction.  Jordan Spieth's recent situation is a good example. He undoubtedly lost several hundred thousand dollars, possibly a million or more, just for a simple mistake that anyone could make. 

Does anyone think he deliberately cheated? I don't think so. And finally, the player's scorecard is kept by a fellow competitor, so this huge penalty is imposed because of an error made by someone else, and the player didn't happen to catch it. 

The penalty is simply too harsh for the size and nature of the infraction. If the practice isn't eliminated, then replace the DQ with a two-stroke penalty. It's always hard to let go of long standing traditions, but this one needs to be laid to rest.

John Abercrombie
Cape Girardeau, Missouri

No. Another stupid rule.

Steve Pratt
Ardmore, Pennsylvania

I can appreciate the tradition of having to sign for a correct scorecard. However, in today's world when the whole world knows what score the player actually made, it seems ridiculous to disqualify the player. Give the player one chance to correct the card and be done with it.  Disqualification is about as bad as not allowing a player to move a ball out of a divot made by another player without penalty.

Bob Norris
Cincinnati, Ohio

Players should absolutely have to sign scorecard. Errors can be made by humans and technology. I mean come on. Players at the top level are making millions of dollars playing this game with more incentives provided every year. How hard is it to take five minutes after a four-hour round to verify what you shot. Bathroom dashes aside, signing the scorecard has worked 99.934% of the time.

And where would the automatic tracking of each score stop? It certainly wouldn’t be available for amateur tournaments around the country. Let’s keep some of what we have used from a historical view a part of the game we love. At least, that’s how I see it. Signing off now. 

Paul Vicary
The Villages, Florida

Despite ShotLink technology and the electronic gathering of shot data, players should still be required to sign their scorecards as a formality of playing in a competitive professional tournament. I do not believe the player should be disqualified for a "clerical error." Each competitor should have up to their next tee time to make the correction.

This may or may not involve a one-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard depending on how you change this rule. At the moment, the penalty does not fit the crime, hence it needs to be reviewed as there is no threat to the integrity of the game or competition. All of this is clerical in nature, hence disqualification is obviously overkill and needs to be amended.

Reid Farrill
Toronto, Ontario

Yes, but … the player and fellow player scorer cannot leave the scoring area until their signed card is in agreement with the scoring technology report. And the shall resolve any discrepancy with the rules official before leaving the scoring area.

Richard Williams
Lakewood Ranch, Florida

Yes, there should still be scorecard. Disqualification is harsh. Penalize only the amount of strokes they are off up or down. It’s not like they are trying to gain advantage with multiple strokes and 99% of the time it is one stroke.

Bob Durrbeck
Tinley Park, Illinois

It's funny how golf wants to move forward with technology in some areas while totally rejecting it in others. No other sport would be so Neanderthal as to make the participants keep their own score. 

We aren't at the stage where personal integrity is the issue. It's simply honest oversight. It's correctable and should be allowed.

Terry Fraser
Huntsville, Alabama

Players should not be required to sign scorecards, Score is kept electronically so players shouldn’t even carry the damn things (scorecards).

Who knows, it might even speed up play a bit? (Doubtful)

John Brewton
Johns Island, South Carolina

Yes, players should continue to be required to sign their card.

1. It shows/confirms the player has agreed to the score on each hole on the card.
2. If penalties have been added to the strokes played, the player will be able to confirm them prior to and when signing.
3. As a walking scorer for PGA, LPGA and USGA events, we record each stroke and penalty, but players and rules officials don’t always confirm with us whether or not a penalty or free drop has occurred. So our entry and ShotLink may or may  not have the correct score.

Jim Noyd
San Marcos, California

Recording your proper score is a part of playing golf and protecting the field. It is just plain silly that these players not only know the rules ... but cannot add? Silly.

Kevin F. Widmer
Jamestown, North Dakota

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