Source: VT Golf Magazine | Issue: Summer 2000 | Author: Stymie Gauge
Synopsis: This article is about the history and evolution of the scorecard in the game of golf.
Throughout human history the tools we have used to perform our daily tasks have been a reflection of who we are and the sophistication of our society. Golf serves as yet another amplification of this tenet. Look at the earliest tree branches that served as clubs compared with their modern day computer designed, space-age material equivalents. Or toss the ball skyward.
Once fashioned from wood, leather and feathers or tree rubber, it now has its genesis in the laboratory where scientists direct the fabrication from materials you’ve never encountered in nature. The printed objects we use in the game are no different, as a quick look at the scorecards and promotional materials from Vermont’s courses of the past will demonstrate. Scorecards are a relatively recent innovation in the 500 years of golfing history. For much of its ancient past, golf was played in match form. If you took 12 shots to reach your goal and your opponent needed 15 you won, and it was on the next contest- without need to remember the specifics, just the result. As stroke play was introduced in the 18th century- and since the memory of poorer players has always been suspect- there came a need to record the totals of each hole as they were played, so they could be correctly compiled for a final tally.
Scorecards showed little advancement in the first few hundred years, which is not surprising considering how little information there was to convey. A tiny rectangular piece of heavy paper, often only printed on one side, served to identify the holes, their yardage and perhaps the bogey that was the goal of talented players. What else did one need?