Going scorecard-free

I took my six-year-old niece miniature golfing during school break. My childhood memories of miniature golf are conflicted: It’s one of those activities that always looks like it will be fun (all those turrets and railroad cars and gnarled fake trees with moving trap doors), but I’ve always been been bad at it, and having the worst score in the group was painful for a high achiever like me.

The attendant handed us our mini-clubs, balls and a scorecard. I asked my niece whether she or I should be the scorekeeper.

“Let’s not keep score,” she said.

Wait—was this even an option? Since it was her date with Aunt Janet, I let her set the rules. No scorecard.

We ambled along, taking as many strokes as we needed to get the ball through moving doors, up anthills, and into 18 holes. We helped each other out, standing in front of water traps so the other person’s ball wouldn’t go too far astray.

Miniature golf is a lot more fun when you don’t keep score.

Where else am I keeping score, when I don’t need to be?


  1. Joan Price says:

    I love this! A lot of activities and life experiences are more fun if you don’t keep score. Out of the mouths of babes!

    Joan Price

  2. Liz says:

    When I was growing up my mom, sister and I would play Scrabble without keeping score. We rooted for each other, cheered for especially cool words and would even trade letters- loaning a vowel or the like.

    When I told my husband’s (very sports-centered, very competitive) family about our way of playing, they looked at me like I had three heads.

  3. Janet Bailey says:

    @Joan – Yes, smart kid!

    @Liz – I’ll have to try scoreless Scrabble. Sounds like fun.

  4. Will Kwan says:

    I use to do this all the time when playing tennis. It’s fun to do occasionally, but if you play like that repeatedly, you’ll want to improve, and it’s good to have some sort of marker to measure that.

  5. Janet Bailey says:

    @Will – I agree that measuring improvement can be helpful…and most athletes and sports fans would probably insist that scorekeeping is beyond helpful, it’s a necessity. (Speaking for myself, I find that Charades quickly breaks down without scorekeeping, but maybe that’s because I’m good at Charades—and one of those oddballs who actually likes the game. ;-)) It’s freeing for me to remember that not everything needs to be a competition.

  6. Adam Vogas says:

    Totally agree with you…Not everything need to be a competition.
    One should take a chance and say” Here’s my shot” 😉

  7. Janet Bailey says:

    @Adam – “Here’s my shot…and another one…and another one…” 😉

  8. As a student we are always being compared to other students. I try to be more concerned with whether I am learning. But the system is against me. I find when I set my goal for my own accomplishments I’m much better off. This is a great reminder of all those cases when the goal can be nothing but “Let’s have fun!”. Great post!

  9. Janet Bailey says:

    @Holly – I still have (pleasant) dreams about being back in college and realizing I’ve got a surprise extra semester to take any classes I want—just for the love of it. It’s great that you’re working to keep your focus on your own goals, despite the competitive pressure.

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