The short answer: There is none.
For handicap purposes, the USGA imposes stroke limits (called Equitable Stroke Control, or ESC) to prevent golfers from sandbagging one hole to keep their handicaps high. Thus, when you enter a score into MyScorecard, we ask you to adjust that score for any holes where your strokes exceed that limit.
However, when you’re on the course, there is no “maximum” to take. Even a professional golfer can run up scores into the double digits. And just to prove a point, back in April of this year, Tour Player Kevin Na posted a 16 on the par 4 ninth hole at the Valero Texas Open.
The strokes included 2 tee shots, 2 unplayable lies, 2 left-handed shots, one whiff where he completely missed the ball, one penalty stroke for the ball hitting him off a tree, a couple other strokes in the woods, an approach, chip and a one-putt.
Walking down the next fairway Na said his hand was numb after striking several rocks. He also told his caddie he lost count on how many strokes he took.
The PGA Tour posted a shot by shot breakdown of the hole:
1-2 – Tee shot right. Went down and found ball and declared an unplayable lie.
3 – Went back to the tee box and hit another tee shot which went right in to the woods. Then hit a provisional left (Abandoned provisional). Found second tee shot on the right and played it.
4-5- Played ball in the woods and hit a tree and the ball hit himself and took a one shot penalty.
6 – Took unplayable where ball came to rest.
7 – Hit ball in woods.
8 – Hit ball in woods (Left-handed and missed ball).
9 – Hit ball in woods (Left-handed and advanced ball).
10 – Hit ball in woods (barely moved the ball).
11 – Hit ball in woods and did not get out of the trees.
12 – Hit ball in woods and advanced to the rough.
13 – Hit ball from woods in to rough.
14 – Played from rough to the fringe.
15 – Played from fringe on to green.
16 – Made putt from 5 feet, 10 inches.
Na’s score turned out to be the worst par-4 score ever posted on the Tour. However, if he can post a 16 on a hold, so can you. Keep that in mind next time someone says they’re picking up after 7 strokes.
Thanks for the folks at 72strokes for bringing this one to our attention.