What Is A Bogey in Golf? 4 Origin Stories

bogey in golf score card

A bogey in golf means one stroke over par.

Thus, if the par value is three, a bogey means that a player took four strokes instead of three to complete the given hole. Similarly, if the hole is a five par, a bogey here can suggest that the player took six strokes to get the ball in the hole.

In a similar vein, there can also be a double bogey, triple bogey, or quadruple bogey, which means that the player uses two, three, or four additional strokes respectively to complete the hole.

You should be aware of several scoring systems and terms when it comes to golf if you are thinking of getting into the game or learning it from scratch. In fact, this kind of knowledge can also be useful if you simply want to start watching professional golf tournaments and finding out more about them.

No matter your reason, I will take you through the origins of a bogey, or “bogie”, when it comes to golf, along with additional information about it. Such as how it affects scoring and handicaps and whether or not it is good in the first place.

However, before understanding what a bogey in golf means, you will need to briefly understand what par means in golf. Let’s begin!

What Does Par Mean in Golf?

player writing down par in on golf cart

When it comes to golf, a par can refer to the number of strokes a golfer should make to get the ball inside the hole. 

This number is usually calculated based on the skill level of a professional golfer and is established beforehand by the relevant authorities that oversee golfing rules and tournaments.

Usually, holes can have a score or a number between three and five. For instance, a par three can mean that you should complete the given hole within three strokes.

In this sense, several holes in a golf course or tournament have a certain value for the overall par.

Now that you have a brief understanding of what par is in golf, it can be easier for you to understand a bogey.

Origins of Bogey in Golf

player writing down bogey score while in golf cart

Several different stories or versions can be attributed to the origin of bogey or its use in golf. You can go through some of these below:

● In the last decade of the 19th century, the notion of the ground score originated at the Coventry Golf Club to make the number of strokes per hole typical or universal.

● Around this time, the term ‘bogey’ was also introduced at the Great Yarmouth Golf Club to mean the total number of strokes that a professional golfer should be able to make. This is what we now refer to as par.

● With time, the rules and regulations associated with golf came into place and became stricter and led to the separation between par and bogey, with bogey meaning one more than the par.

● Suppose you thought of the phrase “bogey man” or “boogie man,” you’re not too far off, interestingly. This myth led to the origin of the term bogey in golf and led to associations with the score itself.

Impact on Score

A bogey can certainly impact your overall score in a golf tournament, which can then also affect your ranking. 

Of course, it is not possible for a golf player, whether professional or amateur, to attain a par score on every hole they play, so a few bogeys are pretty common and something to be expected.

However, a higher number of bogeys (or worse, double or triple bogeys) can set you back in a tournament, especially at an advanced level. 

On the other hand, even if a player hits a few bogeys, it can be possible to compensate for the reduced overall score by hitting more pars or even hitting a few birdies.

The ability to make up for it can also depend on your skill level, with professionals more likely to be able to carry this out and see it through so that their total score does not receive too much of a blow.

In fact, one of the only professional players to complete the PGA Tour golf tournament and win without a bogey is Lee Trevino, who got through 72 holes in 1974 without one.

Is a Bogey Considered to Be Good?

Since a bogey is one stroke more than the par, it is not exactly good since it can reduce your overall score. However, bogeys are also unavoidable, even by professional players.

Thus, in some cases, a bogey can also be considered good if it can help you stabilize your score without too many setbacks.

In particular, if your competitors score more bogeys than you, then this can end up being good for you in terms of your rank.

However, as the level increases, it is expected for a player to score fewer bogeys than more amateur players.

How Does a Bogey Golfer Rank in Terms of Handicap?

The United States Golf Association has a handicap system in place to rate professional golfers based on their scores and abilities. Generally, bogey golfers tend to score a bogey quite often while golfing.

This can give them a handicap score or rating of around 20 (for men) and around 23 (for women). 

Of course, several factors such as the length of the course, number of holes, the overall score, and standard are taken into account here.

Final Remarks

To sum up, a bogey in the sport of golf relates to the number of strokes required to complete a hole, plus one additional stroke. 

While bogeys are common in golf, too many bogeys compared to other players can adversely affect your score and handicap, particularly for professional golfers.

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