Playing games has become a risk during the pandemic, especially the ones with heavy contact among players. There are very few games that can be played while maintaining social distancing. Golf is one of those games since it does not require players to stay close to each other. Many people admire golf from afar since the game intimidates them. The Callaway scoring system uses the ‘worst shots’ to establish a handicap. How efficient is this system?

On the surface, the game does seem pretty complex. If someone has zero knowledge about golf, they would have difficulty grasping the concept of many terms associated with the game. Just like any sport, golf also uses unique terminologies. A lot of them are related to the scoring system. Callaway Scoring System is a handicapping scoring technique many golfers use.

Golf Scoring System

golf scoring system

There are different scoring systems used in golf. Unlike many sports, golf players need the lowest scores to point. Someone who has no idea about the golf scoring system will be scratching their head after looking at a scorecard. In a golf course, every hole has a par rating that helps determine the scores. The par determines the number of strokes a golfer should get to finish their shots.

“1-over”, “1-under”, and “2-under” – these are all terms you can hear during golf. These terminologies showcase how the golfer’s shots align with the par rating. For example – if a hole has a par rating of 4, and a golfer completes it with only three strokes, it would be called a 1-under. It is also known as par rating minus one. The 1-over is when the golfer needs an extra stroke than the par rating to complete their shots.

Golfers follow this technique throughout the game. If a golfer completes a par-5 hole with just three strokes, it would be termed a 2-under. When the number of strokes is the same as the par rating, it is called an ‘even par’ or ‘level par.’

Golf Scoring Methods

Players prefer to use different methods to track their golf scores. Sometimes there are specific plays that follow a particular scoring method or system. One should be aware of three other golf scoring methods – stroke play, match play, and the Stableford system.

Stroke Play

This is a pretty straightforward way to track the shots. As you can guess from the name, you account for the strokes in Stroke Play. After each shot, you count the scores according to the number of strokes the golfer took to complete. All the scores are added up. At the end of the game, the golfer with the least number of strokes wins the match.

Match Play

Match Play follows an approach similar to Stroke Play. In this method, players keep track of the scores by counting the number of strokes. Instead of adding all the strokes at the end, you determine the winner by calculating how many holes they shot.

After each shot, the one with the fewest strokes wins the hole. And the player who wins the most holes at the end of the match is the winner.


This is where handicap comes into play. The Stableford method is a combined approach with handicaps thrown into the mix. After every shot, the golfers get points according to the number of strokes they took to finish a hole. Adjustments are made to the scores following each player’s handicap. At the end of the game, you add all the points.

There is a notable difference in the Stableford method. We already mentioned how the least number of scores in golf determines the winner. But the Stableford method goes the other way. You crown the golfer with the most amount of points as the winner.

What is Handicap in Golf?

handicap in golf

Handicap in golf is a way of making things easier for new or occasional players. With the help of a golf handicap, less frequent players can have a better shot at a win against pro-level golfers. Handicap is a way of measuring a golfer’s current playability on a full match. A lower number means a better golfer and vice versa.

The handicap number ranges from 0 to 36 (for males). But it goes up to 40 for female golfers. Furthermore, the handicap range can be different based on location. Handicaps can change as the player becomes more capable over time. The concept of handicap is to allow golfers a fair chance at winning a game despite their level of expertise.

For example – a player with a handicap score of 10 has to offer five strokes when playing against someone with a handicap score of 15. Otherwise, the round will not even start. If you follow the Stroke Play method for keeping scores, the handicap score gets deducted from the total stroke points. Then the player with the lowest number of strokes wins the game.

 The golf handicap calculation is a very complex process. It is not just the strokes and numbers that come into play; one has to consider the course they are playing at and the difficulty level. It is possible to calculate a handicap if you understand how it works, but it is still not guaranteed that you will have an accurate score.

You need to input all the necessary information to get a handicap score, including the scores for the last matches and the dates. Many free online calculators can provide you with a handicap score after you input all the information. But for a handicap score to be considered an official one, it must register at least five rounds.

Who Needs A Golf Handicap?

Getting a handicap score before playing each game is not mandatory. The handicap score is not something that everyone wants to oblige. Golf is a sport, and sports are meant to provide joy to the players. If anyone wants to play golf just for their enjoyment, then they are likely not to indulge in finding a handicap score to track.

If someone is interested in improving their golf skill, a handicap is an excellent way of keeping track. They can also experience how it would feel to play a professional golf game. Handicap is a must for official matches. People who wish to play in official golf tournaments use handicaps to evaluate their plays.

The Callaway Handicap System

Lionel Frank Callaway first introduced the Callaway Handicap system. This scoring system makes adjustments to the golfer’s handicap after each game. We mentioned above how golfers don’t need to have handicap scores. The Callaway system is an excellent way to keep a game’s score for golfers who do not have an official handicap index.

The significance of handicap is that it allows the golfers to level the playing field. The Callaway Scoring System is an efficient way of using handicaps for occasional golfers. A handicap index is not something every golfer will have. Some people play golf in their free time as a way to relax and have fun. They do not care about keeping track of their skills and do not keep handicap scores.

It becomes difficult for different levels of players to have a fair game when there is no handicap for some of them. It is where the Callaway system is implemented.

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You can use the chart above to calculate Callaway handicap scores. In the Callaway Scoring System, the stroke play method is applied to keep track of the scores. Just one adjustment is made – double par is the maximum score of the given hole.

For example – a par-3 hole will have a maximum score of 6. Players keep track of their gross score as they play. During this, they follow the double par maximum process. Then, a golfer can use the chart from above and find their score. The Callaway system allows players to deduct their ‘worst scores’ as part of Callaway Handicap system.

Once a golfer locates their score on the chart, they can deduct the required number of their worst scores to adjust the handicap. Then another adjustment is made, as shown at the bottom of the chart.

The Callaway Scoring System might seem complicated at first glance. But it becomes relatively easy once you have the chart and know how to keep golf scores. Look at this example to clearly understand how the Callaway Scoring System is applied in golf.

Callaway Handicap Example

We use the Callaway Handicap system to find the net score from the gross score. Robert has a score of 98. If we look at the Callaway chart, 98 falls on the row of “3 worst holes and adjustment” under handicap deduction. Robert’s worst scores are 6, 7, and 8 – which totals 21. Now, if we move on to the adjustment part, the 98 column has an adjustment score of 0.

So the final handicap deduction for Robert is 21. The net Callaway score is 98 – 21 = 77. Robert’s net score for the game (with Callaway Scoring) is 77.

Keep a few things in mind while following the Callaway Scoring System. You cannot count your worst scores for the 17th and 18th holes. Even if you have two worst scores on these holes, you must move on to the next worst ones. You can deduct a maximum number of 50 strokes in the Callaway Handicap adjustment.

When to Use the Callaway Scoring System?

Callaway Scoring System

The Callaway Scoring System is best used in casual settings. If you have a get-together or there is an office party where people decide to play golf, you might need Callaway. In such environments, most golfers would not have an official handicap score.

It would be unfair to hold a golf tournament if occasional golfers go up against who plays golf every week. That is when the Callaway Scoring System can come in handy. It can be used as a temporary handicap solution to organize a fair and competitive game of golf.

Final Words

Now that you know how the Callaway Scoring System works make sure to use it on your next casual golf game. People who do not have handicaps should not feel intimated about going against regular golfers. Handicaps are meant to level the field for everyone who takes part in the match. With this scoring system in place, an irregular player (someone who does not have a handicap) can have the chance of beating a professional golfer.


Stroke Play is the most common scoring method used in golf. This method tracks the score by counting the number of strokes a player uses to shoot a hole.

How does the Callaway handicap work?

The Callaway handicap is counted by eliminating the ‘worst holes’ of the golfers and then making adjustments to provide a net score.

What is the most common scoring method in golf?

How many strokes can I deduct with the Callaway system?

A golfer can deduct a maximum of 50 strokes while using the Callaway Scoring System.

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