What 'Out' and 'In' Mean When They Appear on the Scorecard

golf scorecard
(Brick House Pictures/Getty Images)

The words "out" and "in" appear on most golf scorecards, alongside the par for the front nine and back nine.

What 'Out' and 'In' Mean When They Appear on the Scorecard

What they mean is fairly self-evident. "Out" and "In" on the scorecard refer to the golfer's front and back nines, respectively.

Why those terms are used dates back to the beginnings of golf. Back in the mists of Scotland, golf courses weren't so much built as they were found. Golfers would begin playing their game on the linksland alongside the Scottish coast. Patterns of play formed, and a well-worn golf course would emerge.

Such early links all took the same form. From the starting point (eventually, the clubhouse), golfers would play out in a straight line, the holes strung together one after the other. When they reached the midway point of the golf course, they turned around and started playing in the opposite direction until making it back to the starting point.

In other words, they played out, then they played back in. The first set of holes came to be called the "outward" holes; the second set, the "inward" holes. Eventually, golf courses settled on 18 holes in length; hence, the "outward nine" and "inward nine" came to comprise the 18-hole course.

Few golf courses are constructed these days in the out-and-in pattern of early links courses. But the terms "out" and "in" have stuck for the front and back nines.