The Marker: What (or Who) Is It, and What Are the Duties?

A marker in golf writes down the scores
The job of a 'marker' in golf? Marking down a competitor's scores. Michael Cohen/Getty Images

In golf, the "marker" is someone who is tasked with recording your scores. Think of it this way: The marker is the one marking down your scores on the scorecard.

Markers, in this sense, are probably most visible to recreational golfers when we are watching the pros play on TV. You know how tour players exchange scorecards at the beginning of the round? That's because they are serving as each other's markers.

If you play a round of golf and a marker is keeping your score, he or she will give you your scorecard at the end of the round for you to check and sign. It is the player's responsibility to make sure the scores are correct before signing the scorecard, even when a marker was the person writing down your scores.

"Marker" is a term that appears throughout the Official Rules of Golf, so ...

The Rulebook Definition of Marker

The definition of "marker" as it appears in the golf rules maintained by the USGA and R&A:

"In stroke play, the person responsible for entering a player’s score on the player’s scorecard and for certifying that scorecard. The marker may be another player, but not a partner.
"The Committee may identify who will be the player’s marker or tell the players how they may choose a marker."

Rule 3 covers Competition, and in that rule's preamble the governing bodies include this:

"After the round, the player and the marker (who keeps the player’s score) must certify that the player’s score for each hole is right and the player must return the scorecard to the Committee."

Disambiguating 'Marker'

The word marker is used in several other contexts in golf, too, so try these other pages if you were looking for info on a different type of marker:

The Duties of a Marker

You are most likely to have a marker, or to serve as one, during a tournament or competition. What are the duties of a marker? If you are serving as a marker for another golfer, you should:

  • Observe, as best you can, each stroke the golfer plays;
  • Count those strokes, plus any penalty strokes that may be necessary to add;
  • Double-check the score with the golfer after each hole (this is not required, but is strongly recommended) and write it down;
  • Total and sign the scorecard at the end of the round;
  • Turn the scorecard over to the golfer.

As noted at the beginning, making sure the scores on the card are correct is the obligation of the golfer, who should check and sign his or her scorecard after the marker has done so. The marker, even if its another golfer, is not subject to penalty if there are any good-faith mistakes on the scorecard.

However, if the marker knowingly writes down an incorrect score, or knowingly attests (by signing the card) to an incorrect score, the marker (if it's a fellow-competitor) will also be disqualified. And if that marker is not a golfer, it's doubtful the Committee would ever again make use of that individual.

If the marker and the player disagree about a hole score, the marker can decline to sign the scorecard. In that case, the Committee would have to speak to both the marker and golfer and make a ruling.

Rule 3-3(b) goes into specifics regarding the duties of the marker and the player's relationship to the marker and his or her own obligations as to the scorecard.

For example, this is one part of that rule:

"Marker’s Responsibility: Entering and Certifying Hole Scores on Scorecard. After each hole during the round, the marker should confirm with the player the number of strokes on that hole (including strokes made and penalty strokes) and enter that gross score on the scorecard."

And another section addresses the player's responsibilities, which include that the golfer:

"Should carefully check the hole scores entered by the marker and raise any issues with the Committee,
"Must make sure that the marker certifies the hole scores on the scorecard,
"Must not change a hole score entered by the marker except with the marker’s agreement or the Committee’s approval, and
"Must certify the hole scores on the scorecard and promptly return it to the Committee, after which the player must not change the scorecard.

The penalty for breaching certain player responsibilities relating to scorecards and markers is disqualification, so it is very important for any golfer who plays or hopes to play in tournaments to read and grasp the full Rule 3-3(b).