Golf Scorecard Symbols: How to Decipher the Shapes

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If you’re new to golf, trying to read a golf scorecard with symbols is like trying to decipher hieroglyphics sometimes with squares above par holes, circles, triangles, and more.

But there’s a reason for the golf scoring symbols you see on a completed scorecard. It helps you quickly identify birdies, pars and bogeys. 

You dont even need a calculator if you can read the scoring symbols! 

Continue reading to learn more about these symbols as well as other scoring best practices in golf.

Golf Scoring Symbols Explained

A golf scorecard does more than simply keep track of your final score. Some golfers keep net scores while others track which golf clubs are used on specific holes. Others use it for the number and length of their strokes.

The symbols may not be as common for all golfers. These are the most commonly used symbols that you will see on a golf scorecard.

Par Score = No Symbol

Sometimes its a good thing to have no symbols surrounding your score on a particular hole. When you don’t have any geometric shape surrounding your score, that means you made a par. So if you get a four on a par 4, you won’t have anything around your score.

It’s very rare but sometimes you can get a “clean card” which means 18 pars in a golf round. This is rare, even for elite golfers. Bogeys and birdies tends to be offset. If you do get a clean card, make sure to frame it as it likely won’t happen again. 


Even if you don’t remember much from geometry class, you want to remember that circles in golf are good. If your score is circled, it means that you made a birdie on that hole. The more birdies you make, the better. 

Two Circles

If you have a score with two circles around the final score, then it’s even better! A double circle means you made an eagle which isn’t very common for the average golfer. But that’s not the only score it could mean.  

A double circle could also refer to a hole-in-one. If you get the once in a lifetime ace on a par 3, that also results in two circles around your “1.” Like a clean card, make sure you save the ball and frame that scorecard. 

Three Circles

I’ve played golf for a long time and never had the chance to write three circles around a score. Three circles is the rare double-eagle, also known by the name an albatross . 

This is only possible if you score an ace on the par 4 hole or a two on the par 5. Either way, it’s going to take a miracle shot to make it happen and even more rare than a hole in one. 


A square isn’t the end of the world and very common for the everyday golfer as it constitutes a bogey on the hole. If your final score is five on a hole of par 4, you would get a square. 

If you’re a “bogey golfer” then you would typically have close to 18 squares during the round. You could also have some pars (no symbols), and a few double-bogeys. 

Two Squares

Two squares is the symbol for double bogeys. A double bogey means two over on one hole. 

For example, a seven on a par 5 is a double. Try to avoid these if at all possible as it’s not easy to bounce back from a double bogey. 


A triangle can be used to refer to two terms depending on the app. This is a grey area in the history and practice of golf. 

A triangle on a golf scorecard is a triple bogey or worse. 

While you want to avoid squares if possible, they’re pretty common for the everyday golfer. However, a triangle is one symbol you should avoid.

However, some people also use the triangle symbol to represent an Ace. I’ve never understood this because an ace is really an eagle on a par 3, which is two circles.

Explain the Dots in a Golf Scorecard

If you play in a tournament that has a gross and net division it’s not uncommon to see dots as well. A dot on the hole indicates that you are eligible for a stroke in the net division.  

For example, let’s say you’re a 12 handicap golfer. 

You would receive a dot on the 12 hardest holes (each hole is ranked from 1-18, difficult to the most easy on the scorecard). This is reflected on the holes net score. 

If you put a dot on the hole, and you score a five on a Par 4, the dot signifies that you get a stroke. Your gross score is now four. 

You will see two dots on some holes if your handicap is higher than 18. This will reduce your net score by two strokes.

For example, if you’re a 22 handicap golfer you will get one dot on the 14 easiest holes and two dots on the hardest four holes. Your net score will be four if you score a six on a hole that has two dots.


Apps Scoring of Golf Scorecard 

If you’re the type of golfer who prefers to keep score on a golf app, there might be some differences to the traditional symbols. Golf Pad GPS, for example, changes a few symbols.

A par is still a symbol, but a solid circle signifies an eagle or better than two circles. A solid square is a double bogey or worse. On most golf apps, there are no triangles.

3 Scorecard Tips 

Now that you have a better understanding of a scorecard, let’s get into a few best practices. 

1. Use a Scorecard Holder 

The biggest thing with a scorecard is to make sure you don’t lose it! When you’re riding in a golf cart, make sure to keep the scorecard secure on the steering wheel (and the pencil too).

If you’re using a pushcart, make sure to keep the scorecard clipped in or inside one of the secure pouches. If you’re walking and carrying your golf bag, buy a scorecard holder or keep it inside a yardage guide if you have one. 

2. Use an App

If you want to track your statistics and/or don’t want to depend on someone else keeping your score, use an app. There are many apps that can be used to track your scores, and more. This is also a good idea to use when it’s raining and the scorecard might get wet too.  Here’s our list of favorite golf apps.

3. Don’t Add Up the Scores 

Dont be the one who adds up scores after just 9 or 17 holes. This adds pressure and expectation to the round if someone does it and announces it.

Golfers can get too focused on their score and lose sight of the game. I’ve seen so many players have a great 9 or 17 holes only to collapse down the stretch. You can add up the score by waiting until the last putt drops. 

Other features of the Golf Scorecard 

Each scorecard is unique and based on the course. However there are some common features, such as the hole number.

Tee Boxes/Distance

Each golf course will have a list of the different sets of tees and the length for each hole. Most golf courses have at minimum three sets of greens. Others have 5-6 boxes. This ensures there is a tee for every golfer. 

The longest tee box are the hardest and are noted at the top on the scorecard (these are also known as the tips). The scorecard shows the lowest set of tees, while the longest are the most difficult.

Additionally, sometimes courses have a “combo” set of tees where golfers play certain holes of one tee box and others from a different tee. This is an example of a male golfer using the blue/white combination. They would usually play the blue tees for longer holes and the white tees for shorter holes. 

Always use the correct tee box for your handicap index.

Slope Rating and course Rating

The slope rating for the course can be found on the left side, just next to the teebox colour. This is often 74.1/139. 

These numbers are the average score for a scratch player and the slope is calculated using a sliding scale of bogey golfers. 

Learn more about slope rating.

Par of Hole 

Every golf scorecard will have the par on each hole (typically a 3, 4,, or 5). Some courses may have a par 6, but this is very rare.

Depending on the player or tee box, some holes may have a par 4/5. For example, if a man is playing the hole it’s a par 4 but if a woman is playing the same tee box, it’s a par 5.

Most full-length courses are par 72. However, there are some that are 70, 71, and rarely a Par 73. Executive-style golf courses are shorter. 

Handicap Index

The handicap index is the last line after the boxes. All holes are ranked 1-18 with 18 being the easiest and one being the most difficult. 

It is important to know the handicap for each hole. This is especially important in gambling games where you must give strokes to other players. If you give a player 10 strokes they will get a stroke on the hardest 10 holes. 

Their handicap score would equal -1 of their gross score (these scores are also known as net scores).

Signature and Attest

Many scorecards of golf courses will include a space for the scorekeeper or player to sign the card. If you’re playing in a formal golf tournament, each card must have two signatures or the scorecard is invalid and that player is disqualified.

Do not forget to sign your scorecard after the round or your score doesn’t count! 

Local Rules 

Lastly, it’s common for scorecards to also have local rules for the course as well. These rules are specific to the course and may include:

  • Local water hazards rules
  • Any ball that is not on the roads is considered illegal
  • All golf balls found in flower beds are eligible for free (and required) relief

FAQs about Golf Scorecard Symbols 

Do you have questions about squares and circles in a golf scorecard. Continue reading to improve your golf game knowledge and learn more about circles and squares on a golf scorecard.

What is a triangular scorecard for golf? 

In golf, a triangle can refer to two things. 

Some players use the triangle to signify a triple or worse hole. Some others use it as an ace.

What are the dots in a golf scorecards scorecard? 

Your golf handicap is indicated by dots on a scorecard. It’s common to see dots in golf tournaments with net scoring. 

How do you read a scorecard for golf? 

A golf scorecard contains many things, including spots for your name, scores and pars of each hole, slope/rating and more. After adding your score, you can use symbols. 

What are the 7 terms used to score golf? 

The seven most commonly used terms for scoring are par, bogey double bogey triple bogey and hole in one. Other terms include condor, snowman (quadruplebogey), and many others.  Here are all the golf scoring names.

What happens if the wrong scorecard is signed?

Bad news for those who sign the wrong scorecard 

If you sign the scorecard with a higher score, you have to accept the mistake but luckily, you don’t get disqualified. If your scorecard is lower than yours, you will be disqualified from the event. 

This is why it’s crucial to track your score during the round and double-check the hole by hole score before signing it. 

What is the C word in Golf? 

The “C” word in golf is usually referred to as choking. While the “S” word stands for shank and the “Y” word stands for the yips.

I’d suggest keeping these three words from your vocabulary to not put a jinx on any of your playing partners. 

What is a cat in golf? 

Kitty refers the total money won at end of round. To learn more about common terms and phrases in golf click here. 

Final Thoughts about Golf Scorecards

Hopefully, you now have a better grasp of the symbols on a golf scorecard.

While these symbols are helpful to add up your score easier, don’t feel like you need to do them. If you use a scorecard in your GPS golf cart, they will make the symbols for ya. 

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