How Does Count Back Work In Golf

How Does Count Back Work In Golf

I have to admit that I have been playing golf for the past five years and I still don’t understand how the famous “countback” works. Turns out, I am not alone! The concept of countback has always been a mystery among golfers.

The chances of a tie occurring in a golf competition are slim, as many would assume. For instance, the pros tee it up for 4 days of the tournament during professional tours, which often take place over 72 holes. In amateur golf competitions, on the other hand, there are people of different abilities, ages, and handicaps, all having different starting times to hit the golf ball into 18 different holes across the hundreds of acres of a golf course. Most people would assume that the possibility of having ties, with all these factors in place, is almost impossible. Surprisingly, ties are a common occurrence in both amateur and professional golf tournaments. So, what happens when a tie occurs during the game will explain how the countback actually works.

How does count back work in golf?

This is a method used to separate players that have tied after the completion of the golf competition. With this method, the golfer with the lowest score over the last nine holes in a countback becomes the winner. As for amateur competitions, playing additional holes won’t be necessary for the countback. The competition secretary can just do some number crunching and the winner will be identified. However, there will be playoffs for the first place in a professional golf tour. For any typical golf competition, the countback will be used to determine those in the first, second, and third positions, usually for award purposes. Any ties outside this range will be shared positions.

How do you calculate a countback in golf?

Initially, this is the part of the game that I thought should be left to the more experienced golfers, especially if you are not good with numbers. However, it turned out to be quite simple after doing some digging. Well, a countback is simply determined by finding the sum of the scores of the last nine holes on your course scorecard, that is, holes 10 to18.

Nevertheless, the countback should fit the format of the design of the competition. For instance, if the competition has no handicaps or a scratch comp competition, then the countback is the sum of the players’ gross scores on the last nine holes on their course scorecard. However, the nett scores would be used in the countback if the tournament was played with handicaps.

So, what happens if there is still a tie? Yes! You heard me right. A countback can still end in a tie. Luckily, there are methods in place to be used in such situations. First, the 9 holes that were used in the previous countback will be shortened to the last six holes, that is,  holes 12 to 18. If there is still a tie, then the second step is to shorten the holes to the last three, that is, holes 16 to 18. If the golfers can’t still be separated, then the score of the final hole, hole 18, will be used as the ultimate tiebreaker.

Technically, an experienced golfer will still have tons of questions on how countback works, especially, in different situations such as Stableford golf, stroke competitions, and multi-tee starts.

So, how does the countback work in the Stableford golf and stroke play competition?

In Stableford golf, the countback uses the Stableford points instead of the standard net or gross scores. In Stableford golf, the countback starts with the back nine holes, followed by back six, back three, and then the final hole.  However, don’t expect the tie to last long in Stableford since the points are not the same per hole. The same process applies to the stroke play competition.

And how does countback work in the case of Multiple Tee and Shotgun Starts?

Using the countback is tricky when the players started on Multiple Tees or Shotgun Starts because the players will have a different back 9 holes. In that case, a decision should be made before the game starts on whether to use the back 9 holes played or the standard back 9 holes based on the hole number. Otherwise, the rest of the process is the same.


It will always be easier to calculate the back 9 holes played by hands, however, the real-time scoring system is ideal in handling complicated countback calculations. Is there a quicker or an easier method to break ties during a game other than the countback?

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