Golf's New Rules: "Maximum Score" Form of Stroke Play

Under the new Rules of Golf, an alternative form of stroke play called “Maximum Score” allows for a maximum number strokes to be set to cap a player’s score on each hole.

“Maximum Score” Form of Stroke Play

2019 Rule:

“Maximum Score” will be a new, additional form of stroke play:

  • A player’s score for each hole is capped at a maximum set by the Committee, which may be fixed (such as 6, 8, 10, etc.), related to par (such as two times par or triple bogey), or related to the player’s handicap (such as net double bogey).
  • A player who does not complete a hole (often referred to informally as “picking up”) will not be disqualified, but simply gets the maximum score for the hole.

Current Rule:

The Rules now recognize two main forms of stroke play:

  • The basic form of stroke play where a player must hole out at every hole, or else is disqualified (Rule 3), and
  • The Stableford form of play where a point scoring system is used and a player who scores two or more than the fixed score or does not finish the hole simply gets zero points for that hole (Rule 32).

Reasons for Change:

The need to hole out on every hole in stroke play can have at least two downsides:

  1. It often leads to a slow pace of play, and
  2. It may discourage golfers who feel they no longer have a realistic chance to compete or to make a good score for the round once they get a very high score on one or two holes.

Maximum Score will be an alternative form of play that addresses both concerns, by allowing a player to “pick up” when he or she scores at or above the maximum and by capping the player’s score for any hole at the maximum.

These are important reasons why Stableford is popular in various parts of the world; Maximum Score will create a similar form of stroke play, with the difference that scoring is by strokes rather than by number of points.

The Maximum Score form of play will be unlikely to be used for elite play, but it may be useful in many other contexts, such as for play by beginners or golfers who are less skilled or experienced and, more generally, for club level and day-to-day play when pace of play is a particular concern.

Like Stableford, Maximum Score could be used in conjunction with handicap systems that set a maximum score (such as net double bogey) that can be posted on any hole.

For more information on the new Rules of Golf, visit