What is a Par in Golf? (The Basics of the Game)

What is a Par in Golf?

For those new to the golf game, there may seem to be a lot of things to learn before even hitting a golf ball.

Trying to grasp some of the basic concepts or terms may even seem like a challenge.

The Par in Golf can be difficult to grasp if a participant has never had any real experience with the game of Golf.

Golf, often referred to as a game of precision and strategy, is replete with its unique set of terms and scoring systems. Among these terms, “par” holds a central place. To delve into the world of golf scoring, let’s explore the concept of par and its significance on the golf course.

The Goal in the game of Golf is to go around the golf course in the least amount of shots.

Par serves as a universal benchmark in golf, providing players, whether they are beginners learning the basics or seasoned professionals competing at the highest level, with a standard to measure their skill and performance on individual holes and throughout an entire course. Expert golfers and average players alike engage with this concept on a single hole basis, striving to achieve or surpass the established par for each given hole.

Definition of a Golf Par

The Par in Golf is simply a scoring term indicating the standard on a golf hole.

A par is a term used to describe the expected number of strokes that an accomplished golfer is expected to complete a specific hole or an entire golf course. It serves as a standard against which a golfer’s performance is measured.

A “par score” represents the number of strokes a player is expected to complete a hole or course in. The term “par” itself has become synonymous with the average score for a hole or course. Golfers use various scoring terms to describe their performance relative to par, such as “birdie” for one stroke under par, “bogey” for one stroke over par, and “eagle” for two strokes under par.

A golf course will consist of 18 Holes of differing length. The shorter holes are par 3s, the medium length holes are par 4s, and the longer holes are par 5s.

Golf courses are typically composed of a mixture of par-3, par-4, and par-5 holes, each with its unique demands. An individual hole’s par indicates the expected number of strokes for an expert golfer to complete it successfully. Par-3 holes are usually shorter in distance, while par-4 holes require a well-executed series of shots, and par-5 holes challenge players to cover a longer distance in fewer strokes.

  • Par-3 Hole: Shorter holes where players are expected to complete the hole in three strokes.
  • Par-4 Hole: Moderately lengthy holes that demand skill and strategy, with a par score of four strokes.
  • Par-5: Hole: Longer holes requiring powerful shots, typically completed in five strokes to reach the green.

For a Scratch Golfer, this would mean the standard amount of shots it takes to get the ball in the hole.

Once again, a Par is a scoring term indicating the standard on a golf hole or a scoring term indicating Even Par.

If you are on a Par 3 hole and get the ball in the hole in three strokes, you have made a Par.

If you are on a Par 4 hole and get the ball in the hole in four strokes, you have made a Par.

If you are on a Par 5 hole and get the ball in the hole in five strokes, you have made a Par.

Consistently making Par on a golf course is a fantastic achievement for amateur golfers. If players can do this consistently, they will lower their handicap, and it will happen fast.

Making Par can seem like a daunting task for a beginner golfer. With Patience, Practice, and the right type of coaching, it is defiantly achievable, though.

During a round of golf, players strive to complete each hole in as few strokes as possible. If a golfer completes a hole in the exact number of strokes designated as par, it is called “making par.” Scoring below par on a hole is referred to as a birdie or an eagle, while scoring above par is called a bogey or a double bogey, depending on the number of strokes over par.

What is a Birdie in Golf?

If you are making Birdies consistently, you have figured this golf thing out and may want to try your luck in some tournaments.

A Birdie in Golf is a Scoring term indicating One Under Par.

This would mean getting the ball in the hole in three shots on a Par 4, four shots on a Par 5 and two shots on a Par 3.

A Birdie is a fantastic achievement out on the golf course and will put the spring in the step of golfers of any ability level.

A birdie signifies that a golfer performed better than expected on a specific hole, taking fewer strokes than the designated par value. It reflects skill, accuracy, and efficient play. Players often feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when they achieve a birdie and it can go a long way to shooting a decent score on the golf course.

What is an Eagle in Golf?

If you’ve made an Eagle, you’ve probably had a hole in one or a massive hole out. An Eagle is rare for amateur golfers and very tough for a professional golfer.

An Eagle in Golf is a Scoring Term indicating Two Under Par. It indicates that a player completed the hole in two strokes less than the par value assigned to that hole. An eagle is an exceptional accomplishment and is considered a highly favourable outcome in golf.

This would mean a hole in one on a Par 3. Getting the ball in the hole in two shots on a Par 4 and getting the ball in the hole in three shots on a Par 5.

The most common way a golfer will make an Eagle is on a Par 5.

Achieving an eagle showcases exceptional skill, precision, and often requires long drives, accurate approach shots, or outstanding short game skills. It is a remarkable feat that highlights a golfer’s ability to perform significantly better than the expected number of strokes on a particular hole.

You will see the big hitters on the PGA Tour, like Dustin Johnson, Bryson Dechambeau, and Rory Mcilroy, smash the ball off the tee and get to the green on a Par 5 in two shots. They make it look easy and occasionally hole a putt for an Eagle.

What is an Albatross in Golf?

This is the rarest shot in Golf, and only a handful of golfers have ever achieved an albatross on a golf course.

An Albatross in Golf is a scoring term indicating Three Under Par. It is also known as a Double Eagle.

It is impossible on a Par 3.

There are only two ways of achieving an Albatross, and the first is to get the ball in the hole from the tee on a Par 4.

The second is to hole out on the second shot on a Par 5.

Once again, only a handful of golfers have ever achieved an Albatross, and they are infrequent.

What is a Bogey in Golf?

A Bogey is never the Goal on a golf course, but it will, unfortunately, be a regular score for amateur golfers. Depending on your handicap, a bogey could be a good thing. For an 18 Handicap Golfer, a Bogey on each hole would be a decent score.

A bogey indicates that a golfer took one more stroke than the designated par value on a specific hole. While it is not ideal, it is a common occurrence for many golfers. It may result from errant shots, missed putts, or challenges faced on a particular hole.

A Bogey in Golf is a Scoring Term indicating One Over Par.

What is a Double Bogey in Golf?

The dreaded Double Bogey.

If you are racking up lots of these, your game needs work, and you may need some coaching.

A Double Bogey in Golf is a scoring term indicating Two Over Par.

Golf is a fun game but can be a more challenging game because it requires sound technique and a solid mental game.


For recreational and professional golfers alike, the total number of strokes taken across all holes should ideally match or be as close as possible to the total par of the course. The United States Golf Association (USGA) plays a pivotal role in defining and regulating par standards, considering factors like the length and layout of each hole.

The journey toward achieving par begins with the tee shot, where the golfer aims to set themselves up for a strong start. On par-3 holes, the distance is relatively short, often allowing golfers to take their tee shot directly onto the green. Par-4 holes demand accurate tee shots and approach shots, while par-5 holes often require longer shots and strategic planning to navigate the course’s challenges effectively.

Golf courses may feature water hazards, sand bunkers, and other obstacles that contribute to the difficulty of the hole. The putting green, where the final shots are made into the hole, can pose its unique challenges, requiring precision and control. As golfers progress through the course, they aim to maintain a level par or better, which means completing the holes in the expected number of strokes or fewer.

Understanding the par of a golf course is vital, as it helps players set realistic expectations for their performance. While expert players might aim to consistently score below par, a good score for a newer golfer might be closer to the course’s par. In competitive settings, a golfer’s total score across all holes can determine their standing in a tournament.

The handicap index, a measure of a golfer’s skill level, also takes into account the course’s par and difficulty. A scratch player is one who can consistently match the course’s par, while others might be 1-over par, 2-over par, and so on.

In conclusion, par is one of the most fundamental and widely recognized terms in golf. It encapsulates the essence of the sport’s challenge and strategy, providing a common language for golfers of all skill levels to discuss their performances, set goals, and engage in friendly or competitive play on both shorter and longer courses.

If you want to learn a bit more about the game of golf, check out the following posts.

How to Play Golf

Basic Golf Lessons for Beginners.

Best Golf Balls for Beginners

What is a Birdie in Golf?

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