2012 Masters: How Are Scorecards Supposed to Be Signed, Anyway?

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 05: Patron pose for pictures in front of a scoreboard during a practice round prior to the 2010 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2010 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Luke Donald dodged a potential disqualification this afternoon after signing what was thought to be an incorrect scorecard. So how does the card-signing process usually work, anyway?

The first day of the 2012 Masters was certainly exciting for many players, and Luke Donald certainly saw his fair share of attention.

As most of the golf world already knows, Donald had a bit of a scare this afternoon when it was reported he may have signed an incorrect scorecard following his opening round. During his round, Donald scored a bogey 5 on the par 4 fifth hole after three-putting the green. After sinking his final putt on the 18th hole, Donald would sign his scorecard attesting to an opening score of 75. His playing partners would verify the score, as is customary, and the scorecard would then be turned over to Masters officials to be transmitted to the official tournament score center.

This method of signing and verifying a scorecard during a professional golf tournament is similar among all tournaments, although there can be a few minute differences from one tournament to the next.

Typically, PGA TOUR events feature scorecards that have detachable paper slips on the bottom of the card where players will keep their own score during a round. At the top of the card, each player will keep the score of their opponents while also tracking their own score on the bottom, detachable half. When the round's over, the player detaches their own scores and uses that to check the official card the other player kept. Many of the players verbally tell their opponent what they had on each hole during a round, however others expect that their opponent is keeping track. Once it is verified that all the scores match for each hole (usually in the scorer's booth or tent near the clubhouse), players will then sign their scorecard and go on their merry way.

The Masters' process includes an additional step that requires tournament officials to fax each player's card to the aforementioned score center. This process is certainly prone to human error, of course, as the faxed scorecard must then be manually entered into a computer. At times, the individual entering these computerized scores can misread a fax transmission, as was the case in recording Luke Donald's opening round card.

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