Explaining the 'Ringer Score' ('Ringer Round')

Do you have a favorite golf course that you love to play as often as you can? Do you know what your "ringer score" is on that course? A ringer score, also called a "ringer round," is the total score a golfer makes counting only his lowest scores on each hole of a golf course that is played multiple times within a given time period.

For example, let's say you played Podunk Municipal on consecutive days. On the first hole, you scored 5 on the first day and 4 on the second day. Four is the lower of the two scores, so that counts for your ringer score. On Hole 2, you made a 3 one day and a 6 on the other, so 3 counts for your ringer score. Do that for all 18 holes, add up those lowest scores on each hole, and that's your ringer round for the two days you played Podunk Municipal.

A ringer score is something you can track over short periods of time — consecutive days, 36 holes in one day, a week — or longer periods of time, such as over the length of a golf association summer schedule of tournaments.

You can even calculate your ringer score over your entire golfing lifetime. Maybe you started playing Podunk Municipal when you were 12, and you are 56 today and still playing it. And you saved all your scorecards, hundreds of them? Compare them all, find your lowest-ever score on each hole of the course, and you'll have your all-time ringer round. (Stat-tracking programs make it much easier to do these days.)

The terms "ringer score" and "ringer round" have been around a long time. For example, the 1922 Spalding's Official Golf Guide (much earlier references can also be found) noted that Dorothy Campbell Hurd (a legend in the early 20th-century history of women's tournament golf) had achieved a ringer score of par-69 at Pinehurst:

"Mrs. Dorothy Campbell Hurd played every hole on the No. 1 course at Pinehurst in par figures in 1921 ... Her ringer score as it stands totals 35-34—69, which are the par totals for the course."
Ringer scores can be used for tournament play. We mentioned earlier that a golf association league is one place where ringer scores are sometimes calculated. Such a golf association might announce a Ringer Tournament (also called Ringers or an Eclectic Tournament) that runs all summer long. As league members play the individual tournaments, they are also tracking their ringer scores, and at the end of the league schedule the lowest ringer round wins in the Ringer Tournament.

Ringer scores can also be used for wagering purposes between buddies who are playing 36 holes in a day or multiple rounds over multiple days at the same golf course. In addition to whatever wagering is going on during each, individual round, at the end of the four days (or whatever) of play, the low ringer score wins the bonus pool or the agreed-upon amount from each of the other golfers.

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