A scorecard is produced by each golf course. Each hole has its own column on the card where a golfer writes the number of strokes it takes him to finish a hole. Par for each hole also is given. At the end of a round, the golfer adds the numbers from each hole to get his final score.
The scorecard usually has sections giving the distance from each tee to the hole. The tees closer to the hole are for women and youth players.
Par is the number of strokes it should take you to complete a hole. You know if you hit above or below par by comparing it to your stroke total. Most holes are par 4, with a few par 5s and par 3s in an 18-hole round. Smaller courses may consist only of par 3s.
The handicap section of the card is more complex. A handicap figure is usually given for men and women on the card, but this is different from an actual handicap. A handicap is intended to allow golfers of different skill levels to have a fair competition. The golfer with a 10 handicap subtracts 10 strokes from his or her final stroke total, while a golfer with a 20 handicap would subtract 20. The handicap line on the card is a difficulty rating for the hole. One is the highest difficulty and 18 the lowest. For example, if you are a 24 handicap, you would subtract one stroke from all 18 holes, but still have six left. The remaining six strokes would be subtracted from the six holes with the most difficult handicap rating. Imagine an 18-hole course with all par 4s. A person with a 24 handicap would consider 12 holes par 5, and the six toughest holes par 6. This way, they know how they performed on each hole.
In match play against another golfer, the game begins at "all square." If a hole ends with each player having the same stroke total after handicaps, the card is marked AS. If you are ahead by one stroke, you would mark the card +1 for the hole, while your opponent would mark his -1.
Since you need only one row to record your score, additional space on the card is provided to keep track of other statistics, such as sand saves and greens in regulation.