The format is a "par" or "bogey" tournament in which players compete against the course. The game is played hole by hole. A golfer wins a hole if he makes a net birdie or better and marks it with a +. If a player makes a net bogey or worse, the hole is lost and marked with a -. The player who has the most points at the end of the number of holes played wins the tournament.
Points are awarded based on the current leader's position in the tournament. For example, if there is only one player in the tournament, he or she would receive 100 points for each hole won. If the leader loses every hole except for one, he or she would still receive 100 points because they are still leading the tournament. However, if the leader loses this last hole then his or her overall point total would decrease by 1 because they now have a loss on their record.
To win a tournament, a player must have the highest cumulative score at the end of the number of holes played. If more than one player has the same amount of points at that time, a special event known as a "playoff" will determine the winner. In a playoff, all remaining players other than the one who currently has the lowest score will drop out of the tournament, leaving just the two remaining players fighting for the prize money and title.
A player halves the hole if they score a nett par, which is denoted by a 0. Any lower score than that and the player loses the hole.
In a stroke play event, each participant plays all the holes on one course in order. The player who has the lowest total score wins. In an open event, anyone who pays to enter can play. There are three types of open events: individual, team, and mixed (individuals on one side of the gallery playing against individuals on the other). In some countries there is also a handicap system used for open events. The player uses a rating based on age, gender, and skill level to determine their starting number. They then play every hole under this number, which allows more low-rated players to participate.
In a match play event, also called best-of-n-holes or knockout format, only one winner will be announced at the end of the tournament. Each player plays one round-robin mini-match against the other players, with each member of the pair playing one half of a hole. The person who wins most of these matches wins the tournament. Match play is popular among professionals because it's thought to be easier to play well under pressure.
Competitions for bogey and par. Bogey and par tournaments use the same scoring system as match play. Any hole for which a competitor receives no return is considered a loss. The contestant who is the most successful in the aggregate of holes wins. If both players end up with the same number of losses, the winner is determined by who had the better score overall.
Any score below 18 does not count against you for bogey or par competitions. So if you have a 77 but finish with a 78 to win, you win because you scored lower overall. A score of 17 or more does count toward your total for bogey or par competitions.
Even though any score below 18 doesn't count, there are some exceptions based on the type of tournament being played. For example, in stroke play events where scores can be low enough to qualify, the lowest score among those eligible to advance to the next round is what counts as one's official result. In match play events where only two results are accepted, the person who has the higher score after two rounds wins.
There is also an exception when it comes to haggling over the score. If the difference between two competitors is less than 1 point, they will usually agree to a tiebreaker to decide who wins. This is called "going to the hole" on matters of score.
On the scorecards of some more traditional clubs, there are par and bogey scores for each hole. In a par and bogey tournament, the person who wins the most net holes is the winner, therefore competitors must know and distribute their handicap strokes to each hole. The player who shoots lowest overall score wins.
The distribution of handicaps to different holes determines how many players will finish each group ahead or behind par. For example, if only five players remain after two rounds and the leading player has a handicap of -10, then they will be tied with a golfer who has a handicap of +5. If these were actual people, the one with the -10 handicap would be ten strokes behind leader because it takes ten shots to go from minus ten to plus ten, while the one with the +5 handicap could shoot ahead of them both because it takes only five shots to get from plus five to zero.
Handicaps are calculated based on the number of strokes you take off your gross score on any given hole. Your handicap can change due to many factors; age, gender, height, weight, club selection, weather conditions, course difficulty, etc. There are computers that use all this information to calculate your average handicap rating, which is used to determine what kind of stroke count you should make in order to have a chance at winning.
A "bogey" occurs when a player requires one stroke more than par to complete a hole. So, if you finish a par 4 in three strokes, you make a "birdie," but if you take five strokes, you make a "bogey."
The "bogey" score is used instead of the actual number of holes played because not all players use hoses on their golf balls. A golfer who uses a hose will be able to play faster and still keep his or her score within range of par. Thus, the "bogey" system was created so that everyone has an equal chance of winning.
The first two rounds of most tournaments are called "qualifying rounds." These are official events where the field is cut down from the maximum number allowed to play. The third round is usually called the "playoff round" and it determines which players have qualified for the next stage of the tournament. In fact, the term "playoff" comes from this use of the word round.
The "cut" is the amount of money each player must pay to enter the tournament. This amount varies depending on the prize structure of the event but is usually between 10% and 40% of the total cost of entering the tournament.