Blow up hole


When thinking about golf scoring, most people automatically think of under-par, over-par, birdies, bogeys and pars. When thinking of other methods of scoring, people jump to match play.

However, there are other ways to score a round of golf.

One such, is the format called Chicago-Style scoring. (Easy interchangable with the game “Quota“)

This format rewards golfers for their great play on an individual hole and not only for their total scores at the end of a round. It’s a way to eliminate “blow-up” holes ruining your round while still providing a fair, fun atmosphere. What a great way to play tournament golf at the club!

Chicago-style scoring has a unique way for keeping tabs, taking the difference in handicaps amongst players into account in its scoring formula, giving the players of different abilities an opportunity to compete with one another.

To compete in a Chicago-style format, only one requisite is needed– an established handicap (ideally, for accuracy, a USGA handicap). Each player is given a number of points to start based on their individual handicap.

The scoring will be based off of the course rating for the course in play. For simply math’s sake, a person with a 1-handicap, will start with 38 points, a 2-handicap will get 37 points, and on down the line. A 17-handicap will have 22 points to earn.

This is called the “quota.”

Each tournament will have a different number used for the “quota,” based on a number of variables. But from there, the scoring doesn’t change. Here’s how the scoring lays out:

  • A bogey represents 1 point
  • Par equals 2 points
  • Birdie is 4 points
  • Eagle is 8 points
  • Double Eagle, that always elusive albatross, is worth 16 points.


So let’s take a look at the scoring process in practice a bit:

chicago style scoring

In this example, player 1 has 12 pts and player 2 has 6 pts.


The winner in Chicago-style golf is the one who earns the most points in excess of his preliminary allotment of points.

In an example of scoring, a person with a 6-handicap who bogies 2 holes, has 6 birdies and the rest pars would have a total of 46 points, which is 13 more that his or her 33, for being a 6-handicap.

At the same time, an 11-handicap scoring the same score as indicated above, would earn 18 points over the 27 he or she started with, which would give that person a 5-point win over the person with a 6-handicap.

All scoring is relative to skill level.

The amount of players can vary from just two having a head to head showdown to teams of four or even a full tournament field where each are competing on their own against the field. In fact, for many club tournaments, this is a great way to get the entire field involved in trying to win a tournament.

This style of play needs to be played, obviously, under stroke play rules.

The Chicago style format helps players of differing handicaps played more evenly giving the round a more competitive feel. For pace of play, enjoyment, relaxing environments and still, competitive play, you’d be hard pressed to find a scoring style better than Chicago-style scoring.

Now start racking up those points.

Blow up hole