Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

Succeed with maths: part 1
Succeed with maths: part 1

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

1.3 Using negative numbers in golf

Negative numbers can be used in golf to show how well a player is doing on a particular course, compared to the average number of shots needed to complete each hole. If a player has a score of +2, it means that it took them two more shots than expected. But if they have a score of –2, this is better news! Then they have finished the hole in two shots fewer than expected.

A golfer on playing on a golf course.

Use this knowledge in the next activity.

Activity 5 Are you ready for some golf?

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

On a lazy Sunday afternoon, you are watching golf on TV. There are two players that you are particularly interested in and their scores for the first nine holes of the round are shown below. The score for each hole is the number of shots below or over the average for that hole – so the lower (which means more negative) the score, the better!

What is the total score for each player and who, at this point in the game, is ahead? Use multiplication and addition to find your answer, not addition alone.

Player 1 scored as follows:

  • 0 on hole 7
  • –1 on holes 1,3, 4
  • –2 on holes 2,5,8,9
  • –3 on hole 6.

Player 2 scored as follows:

  • 0 on holes 4 and 7
  • –1 on holes 5, 8 and 9
  • –2 on holes 1, 2 and 6
  • –3 on hole 3.

Hint: count how many of each score the player has and then use multiplication and addition to find the total.


Player 1

3 × (–1) + 4 × (–2) + 1 × (–3) + 0 = (–3) + (–8) + (–3) = –14.

Player 2

3 × (–1) + 3 × (–2) + (–3) + 0 + 0 = (–3) + (–6) + (–3) = –12

Player one is therefore ahead at this stage.

One final operation to look at with regards to negative numbers is what happens when you raise a negative number to an exponent or power. You’re going to make good use of a calculator again now to explore this.