What Is Par In Golf? (18-Hole Scoring Explained)

Par is a golf term that refers to how many strokes it should take a scratch golfer to complete a single golf hole or a round of golf.

All golfers aim to achieve par, and it is also the way that scoring is measured. But what is par in golf?

For example, if it took you five strokes to complete a 3-stroke golf hole, you would be two over par, and if you scored 87 on a course with a par of 72, you would be 15 over par.

So, let’s take a closer look at how par works and how the scoring is worked out.

Hole Distance And Par In Golf

Par 5 hole on golf course

Typically, the longer the golf hole is, the higher the par will be. The current guidelines from the USGA in relation to yardage are:

Men

  • Up to 250 yards – Par 3
  • 251 to 470 yards – Par 4
  • 401 to 690 yards – Par 5

Women

  • Up to 210 yards – Par 3
  • 211 to 400 yards – Par 4
  • 401 to 575 yards – Par 5

A hole’s par can also be affected by being at altitude or downhill, as this would make it longer than other golf holes with the same par score.

The hole length would be shortened by being uphill, which would similarly affect its par.

2 Putts On The Green

Par is designed to give experts, such as professional golfers, two putts for each hole.

On a par-3 hole, an expert golfer is expected to reach the green with a single stroke, to reach the green on a par-4 hole in two strokes, and to reach the green on a par-5 hole in three strokes.

As you can see, this will leave the golfer with two strokes left to score par once they reach the green.

The Par Of A Golf Course

Tee box of a par 4 hole in golf
Par 4 hole on golf course.

The par of an entire golf course is worked out by adding together the par for each individual hole on the course.

Usually, the par for an 18-hole golf course will be between 69 and 73. (See how long it takes to play a round of golf)

A typical golf course that’s full-sized will have a par of 72. Playing from the tips is another way to say you are playing the full distance of the course.

Scoring Terms For Par In Golf

There are several golf scoring terms that golfers use to describe scoring par or scoring under and over par. These are more commonly used than saying three over or two under, for example.

Terms for scoring over par

  • A bogey – this is when the number of strokes is one over par.
  • A double-bogey – this is when the number of strokes is two over par.
  • A triple-bogey – this is when the score is three over par.
  • A quadruple-bogey – this is when the score is four over par.

Terms for scoring under par

  • A birdie – this is where the golfer’s score is one under par on an individual hole.
  • An eagle – this is where the score is two under par on an individual hole.
  • An albatross – this is also known as a double-eagle and is used when the score is three over par.
  • A hole-in-one – also known as an ace, is the shot that every golfer dreams of as it means you have hit the ball into the cup with a single stroke.
  • A condor – this is where the score is four under par on an individual hole. This score is incredibly rare as, on most golf courses, you can only achieve this by scoring a hole-in-one on a par-5 hole.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how par works is very important for anyone who wants to play golf as it’s the way you’ll keep score as you play your way around a course.

Now that you’re up to speed on par, it’s time to practice those aces.

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