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Didn’t finish a hole? Still post your score!

Didn’t finish a hole? Still post your score!

If you begin a hole (make any stroke or strokes) and do not finish it, section 4 of the handicap manual allows us to apply the idea of “most likely score” to a hole that we may not finish on the golf course


Example 1 – Conceded Putts:

In match play you have a 25 foot putt up a large slope remaining for a birdie, your opponent has just holed out for a bogey and concedes your birdie putt. While this may mean you have won the hole, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you made a birdie for handicap purposes. This is an instance in which you would need to apply your judgement to what your most likely score is. Do you typically 2-putt from that distance? If the answer is yes, then you should mark your score down as a par. However, if you think you probably would have 3-putted up that large slope, then a bogey may be more appropriate. This is a judgment call that only you can make, but in order for your handicap to most accurately reflect your abilities you must be as honest as possible.


Example 2 – Picking up the ball:

You’ve hit your 3rd shot on a par 4 into a deep greenside bunker. After your second attempt to advance the ball you notice a group is quickly approaching behind so you decide to pick up your ball and move on to the next hole. At this point you would need to think about most likely score. How many more shots would it have taken you to get onto the green, and how many putts would you have needed to complete the hole? As in example above, only you can answer that question and you need to do so as honestly as possible regardless of whether you think it would have taken 2 more shots or 5 more. Once you have a most likely score you can once again compare this score to your ESC score and use the lower of the two for handicap purposes.


Equitable Stroke Control

Course Handicap

Maximum Score on any Hole

9 or less

Double Bogey

10 through 19


20 through 29


30 through 39


40 or more




  • Not finishing hole is different than not playing a hole. The above procedure (and the ESC chart) only apply to not finishing for some reason or another.
  • When you are deciding on most likely score remember that you must consider the score you would make more than half the time from the same position, not what your best score may be.

Questions about this article? Please contact Hannah Purdy, Manager of Course Rating & Handicapping at hpurdy@theiga.org


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    • PGA Rocky Mountain Section
    • GHIN
    • USGA
    • First Tee
    • PNGA