Why PGA President Suzy Whaley wants to change your scorecard’s design

November 13, 2019

Have you ever considered the simple design of a scorecard? Take a closer look next time.

It is very likely your scorecard is laid out horizontally, with the first hole on the far left and the 18th on the far right. Very intuitive. But that classic orientation also includes an unwelcome element you may have never thought about. Up on the top, there are yardages from the back tees, then the men’s tees, then likely the senior tees, followed by a bunch of empty boxes to record scores. Then, down at the bottom, come the women’s yardages.

“That small little token is the first thing women see when they see a scorecard,” PGA of America President Suzy Whaley said on the Drop Zone Podcast this week. “We’re on the bottom and you’re on the top, which is not great.”

Whaley presented her point well. There is perhaps no stigma more inherent in the game than the one surrounding the tee boxes we play from, and that difference is reinforced by that massive gap on the scorecard.

“What we have to accomplish in the game is kind of a new set of mores and norms,” Whaley said. “The scorecard typically has the four back tees at the top and the two forward tees at the bottom. Why is that? Why aren’t they all together? Who is going to go to the forward tees if it’s below on the card? Why don’t we just have every tee box at the top and choose the tee where you want to play?

“Would there be a stigma about that then? Especially those generations learning the game now? There would be no differentiation. It’d be just ‘I’m going to play the golds today and I might play the greens and somebody else might play the reds.’”

There are a number of norms in golf that, according to Whaley, exist just because they always have, rather than enduring because they make inherent sense. As a leading executive and one of the most important people in the game, Whaley is focused on eliminating some of those aspects that might keep some people from diving head-first into the game she loves. Taking it another step further, Whaley would like to see double-par as an option on some scorecards as a secondary level of accomplishment for beginning players.

“If you’re starting the game and you see 3-4-5-3-4-5 and you go 9-10-8-9-10-8, you pretty much think you stink,” Whaley said. “You just don’t have it yet. You’re learning how to get there. If you put ‘Your par on a par-3 is 6,’ and we can reach double par on any hole, we can really reach some progress.”

Her point is as simple as it is sound. Why is there one obvious goal on our scorecards? Why, if we can’t make par, do we need to create our own separate goal in our heads? Another option printed on that same sheet of paper would, in Whaley’s eyes, make this game more approachable for everyone. She’s not wrong.

To hear those thoughts and a number of others she shared, check out the Drop Zone Podcast on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. To receive GOLF’s all-new newsletters, subscribe for free here.