Let’s start with a scratch player. A scratch player is a very good player for whom the measure of par is how he should play around the course, i.e. if the course is par 73 then he should take 73 shots to get around. If he is playing a hole of up to 250 yards in length we assume he should hit the green in one shot and then take two putts to hole the ball. This hole is a par 3. Any hole between 251 yards and about 470 yards is classed as a par 4, where a scratch player will take two shots to hit the green, followed by two putts. A par 5 is anything over 470 yards and in this case we assume our scratch player will take three shots to hit the green, again followed by the regulation two putts to hole the ball. If you add up the pars of all eighteen holes this will give you the par for the course.
Any player who can go round in scratch will be either of club professional standard or international amateur standard. If you were a 6 handicap you would hope to go round the course in six shots more than the course par. Men can generally have a maximum handicap of 28 even if they take more than twenty eight shots over par. For ladies the maximum is 36.
When you look at the scorecard you will see that it is arranged in columns. The first column gives the yardage or distance of the hole which is measured from the tee to the center of the green when going down the middle of the fairway. Next is the par of the hole which is followed by the stroke index. The stroke index is a measure of the difficulty of the hole, with 1 being the hardest and 18 the easiest. After these come columns for writing down your score. The local rules of the course can usually be found on the back of the score card, along with details of how to calculate handicaps for different competitions. The local rules give you instructions about out of bounds areas on the course and such things as whether you are allowed to remove stones from bunkers.
So now you know how to score, all that remains is for you to get out there and have a go. Good Luck!