You get the ultimate penalty for failing to scrawl your name – but a new Local Rule in the 2023 update will allow committees to soften the sanction. Steve Carroll explains

It was purely a moment of forgetfulness. The player had returned their card, the numbers were all correct, but it wasn’t signed. Even worse, they had the winning score. Golf scorecard rules are rules and this one was clear.

Rule 3.3b (2) imposes a penalty of disqualification when the hole scores on the scorecard haven’t been certified by the player, the marker, or both.

Even though we all realise we’ve basically got one job when it comes to our cards, did the penalty really fit the crime? On the odd occasion this has come up in the pro game, some of you have clearly felt the ultimate sanction was too harsh for what’s essentially an administrative error.

So if you’ve ever paid the highest price for your absentmindedness, your clubs can take a new route with the 2023 Rules of Golf and, specifically, Model Local Rule L-1.

golf scorecard rules

In situations where they feel it to be “more appropriate”, competition committees will be able to modify the cost of missing player or marker certification from disqualification to two shots.

That penalty would apply to the last hole of a player’s round. So while signing a scorecard would remain an important responsibility of both player and marker, failing to do it – depending on the reason – may not always now be the round-wrecking punishment that currently befalls offenders.

Talking to Golf Digest, Craig Winter, USGA senior director of Rules of Golf and Amateur Status, hinted the Local Rule may become a permanent fixture of the main book in the next big revision in 2027 – but the governing bodies wanted to use the next four years to assess its impact.

“We can make a decision come 2027 if this becomes the rule of golf and perhaps there’s a local rule that says if a committee wants to be where we are with disqualification today, they can choose that option for a local rule,” he said.

“But this is pretty normal path forward for us in these areas. Local rule first, see how it goes and perhaps move it into the rules if it works out well for the game.”

Do you agree with these golf scorecard rules? Should players be allowed a little leniency when it comes to the scorecards, or should they still be disqualified? Is your club going to bring it in? Let me know with a tweet.

More on the 2023 Rules of Golf update

We’ve painstakingly been through every update to make sure you have everything you need to know about the biggest changes, from penalties in Stableford, handicaps on scorecards, back-on-the-line relief, and much, much more.

Rules of Golf podcast

Steve Carroll and Tom Irwin sat down to discuss the 2023 updates on the From the Clubhouse podcast.

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 23 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former captain and committee member, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the national Tournament Administrators and Referee's Seminar. He has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying and the PGA Fourball Championship. A member of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap.

Handicap: 10.9

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