What is a Countback?

What is a Countback?

When golfers have tied scores, how do you decide which golfer has won? You could go out on the course and play another hole to decide, but there is a quicker way…The Countback!

What is it?

If you watch the professional golfers, you will sometimes see two of them go back out on to replay the 18th hole to determine the winner. If they tie again, they replay it and keep doing so until one of them wins. If you are playing in a friendly match, at a golf day or with a golf society, replaying the hole might not be an option. The countback allows you to determine the winner based on how they performed on certain holes.

How Does It Work?

Countback compares the players’ scores over a range of holes, starting with the back 9 holes. The scores are compared and the best score wins. If players are still tied, the scores are compared using the next criteria. This repeats until the order of the tied players has been found.

The full criteria:

  1. Back 9 holes
  2. Back 6 holes
  3. Back 3 holes
  4. Back 1 hole
  5. Hardest 1 hole
  6. Hardest 3 holes
  7. Hardest 6 holes
  8. Hardest 9 holes

You will rarely have to compare scores past the back 1 hole. If you do, then comparing the score on the hardest holes should be enough to determine the winner.

What happens if the scores are still tied after the countback? 
In the unlikely event that players have scored exactly the same all of the way around the course, then you would need to choose a deciding factor.


Alex, Bob & Claire are playing in a Stableford competition and have all scored 40 points. The Countback is applied to these players to determine their final positions.

We start with the back 9 holes:
Alex & Claire both scored 21 points and Bob scored 19 points. Alex & Claire are both tied for First position and Bob will be Third.

Next criteria, the back 6:
On the back 6 holes, Alex and Claire both scored 14 points, so are still tied.

Next criteria, the back 3:
On the back 6 holes, Alex scored 8 points and Claire scored 7 points. Alex has the best score, so is the winner, with Claire coming Second.

What About Multiple Tee and Shotgun Starts?

If you are starting on Multiple Tees, or have a Shotgun Start, the players will have a different back 9 holes. You need to decide before the event if you are going to use the standard back 9 holes according to hole number or if you will use the back 9 holes played. If you are calculating this by hand, the back 9 holes played will be easier to calculate.

Handling the complicated countback calculations is one of the advantages of using a real-time scoring system.


Using countback is a quick and easy way to determine who has won when players have tied scores.

Do you use a different form of countback?

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