The Rules of Golf require that in stroke play ever competitor has a marker to attest their score on each hole of their stipulated round. Both the player and their marker have an explicit responsibility for the correctness of the player's score card. The Definition of Marker is;
A "marker" is one who is appointed by the Committee to record a competitor's score in stroke play. He may be a fellow-competitor. He is not a referee.
(Edit 23rd August 2016: A subscriber has pointed out that whilst a marker is not a referee, they can be. Recently, she was the appointed referee for a two-ball, one of the competitors had to withdraw and she then acted as both marker and referee.)
Rule 6-6a deals with recording scores;
After each hole the marker should check the score with the competitor and record it. On completion of the round the marker must sign the score card and hand it to the competitor. If more than one marker records the scores, each must sign for the part for which he is responsible.
Note that a player may have more than one marker during their round. So, if the marker they start with cannot complete their round for any reason, such as sickness or responding to an emergency, they must sign the player’s score card for the holes that they were present to witness and hand it over to another person to complete the remaining holes. If a player is not accompanied by a marker for any hole of their round they do not have an acceptable score for the competition (Decision 6-6a/2). It follows that an unaccompanied pair in a four-ball or foursome cannot return a valid score card, as they may not mark their own score card.
Rule 6-6b deals with the signing and returning of a score card;
After completion of the round, the competitor should check his score for each hole and settle any doubtful points with the Committee. He must ensure that the marker or markers have signed the score card, sign the score card himself and return it to the Committee as soon as possible.
I have heard of markers (and players!) who sign the score card as soon as they receive it, so that they cannot forget to do it at the end of the round. This is obviously not acceptable, as the Rule 6-6b starts, “After completion of the round …”.
Some Decisions relating to markers;
• A marker does not have to be a competitor, so if a fellow competitor ceases to play during a round they may continue to mark the player’s card and may even act as their caddie for that part of the round, Decision 6-4/9.
• If a Committee has failed to provide a marker for a competitor, they may find someone to mark their score card and the Committee should give retrospective authority to this person, Decision 6-6/1. This assumes that the person was acceptable person to the Committee and was permitted by the Conditions of Competition. Some Conditions of Competition require that the marker must have an authorised handicap, or cannot be a junior member.
• A marker who knowingly attests a wrong score should be disqualified, whether or not the competitor was aware that one of their scores was wrongly recorded, Decisions 1-3/6 and 6-6a/5.
• A marker is not required to follow the player around the course to witness every single stroke that is made, but Rule 9-2 does require a competitor who has incurred a penalty to inform their marker as soon as practicable.
• A marker may attend the flagstick even if he is not a fellow-competitor. Decision 17-1/3.
• In any circumstance, a marker (or anyone) may provide information on the Rules to the player whose card they are marking. Players and officials are encouraged to do this to prevent a player from breaching a Rule. Information on the Rules is not advice, Definition of Advice.
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