Unfinished Hole:
how to record your golf score
for handicap purposes

An unfinished hole often poses a problem when it comes to filling in your score card.

For handicap purposes, a golf score has to be recorded for every hole, even if you don't hole out. There are 2 elements to scoring an incompleted hole: the most likely score and the ESC.

  • Most likely score:

    If a player does not finish a hole, she should record the "most likely" score for handicap purposes. A most likely score is the amount of strokes already taken, plus in the player's best judgment, the amount of strokes she would need to complete the hole from that point in more than half the times she plays that hole.

    For example: if the hole is a par 4 and you shoot a 6 at least once every other time you play this hole, 6 would be considered your most likely score. For handicapping purposes, the most likely score is recorded on the scorecard, preceded by an "X" (X-6), to indicate it is an estimated score.

  • ESC (Equitable Stroke Control):

    At the end of the round, the most likely score recorded then needs to be checked against the ESC to determine if the most likely score exceeds the ESC, the maximum allowable score on any hole depending on your handicap index.

    For example: if you have a handicap index of 24, your ESC is 8. Sticking with the above example of a most likely score of 6, it turns out that this score is below the maximum ESC of 8 you have, so the 6 stands as score for handicapping purposes.

    Another example: you pick up on a challenging par 5, where your most likely score is 9, while you have a handicap index of 29 and an ESC of 8. The most likely score exceeds the ESC, so the score that will be recorded for the incomplete hole is X-8.

    Therefore, the ESC can be, but is not automatically your score when you don't hole out.

Return from Unfinished Hole to Golf Rules

Return from Unfinished Hole to Golf Basics for Women