What does “par” (score) mean in golf?

Wondering about the scoring system of golf is pretty common among the golfers. You may also are thinking about how does the par score system appears in golf. Was it the same all the time?

For your better convenience, we would like to mention to you that it was not the same all the time.

Before we dive into the main section, let's start with the definition of the par score in golf.

What is the par score in golf?

There can be two different definitions of the par score. They are-

  • The par score in golf is the expected number of strokes that a professional player should take to put the golf ball into the hole.
  • The definition of the par score can be broader also. Suppose, you are playing in a course that consists of 9 holes. If the par score of each hole is 4, then the total par score of the course would be 36.

Under par and over par

Now that, we all know the definition of the par score in golf, let's have a brief discussion about the scoring system.

  • Suppose, you are playing in a hole that is estimated with a par score of 4. If now, you need a total of 5 strokes to complete the hole, then your score would be +1. That means one stroke more than the par score.
  • If you take one stroke less than the par score, then it is considered as under par. That means if you are playing in a hole that is marked with a par score of 4, and you complete the hole by taking 3 strokes only, then your score would be -1. That means, one stroke less than the par score.

Types of the par score

Before we discuss the types of the par score, we would like to mention to you that for every par score, two strokes are dedicated to the putting section, whereas the rest of the score is dedicated to taking the golf ball into the green side area. That means if you are playing in a hole that has a par score of three. With the first stroke, you should take the golf ball into the greenside area. With the rest of the two strokes, you should complete the putting. Now that we know the basics of the par score, let's take some brief knowledge about the types of the par score. The par score in golf can be classified into 4 different types. They are-

  • On a par 3: If the par score of a hole is 3, then it means it is expected to take 3 strokes to complete the hole. The first stroke is expected to take the golf ball into the green, whereas the last two strokes should complete the putting.
  • On a par 4: It is expected that the first two strokes on a par 4 hole should take the golf ball into the green, and the last two stroke is for completing the putting.
  • On a par 5: on a par 5 hole three strokes will be necessary to take the golf ball into the green, and the last two strokes are dedicated to the putting section.
  • On a par 6: hole with a par score of 6 is pretty rare but not impossible. This type of hole requires 4 strokes to take the golf ball into the green, whereas the last two strokes are dedicated to the putting section.

Depending on the under and over par score, the par score can be of another 5 different types. They are-

  • Bogey- Bogey means taking one stroke over the par score. If you take two or three strokes over the par score, then it is known as double-bogey or triple-bogey or so on…
  • Birdie- Birdie means taking 1 stroke fewer than the par score.
  • Eagle- eagle means taking two strokes fewer than the par score. It is possible on par-4 or par-5 holes.
  • Albatross- albatross is considered an achievement for any kind of player. It means taking three strokes fewer than the par score. It is possible on a par-5 hole. Albatross is also known as a double eagle.
  • Hole in one- it is a kind of rare achievement that you would not see frequently. It is possible most of the time on a par 3 hole. It means completing the hole with one stroke only.

Par score depending on the yardage

There are no hard fast rules to determine the par score system. Most of the time, it depends on the condition of the course and the level of obstacles on the course. In 1911, USGA indicates the measurement of the yardage to mark the par score of the hole. Then in 1917 and in 1956, they made a slight change in the measurement. Let's have a look at the measurement system of the par hole score depending on the yardage.

1911:

  • Par 3:  Up to 225 yards
  • Par 4:  225 to 425 yards
  • Par 5: 426 to 600 yards
  • Par 6: 601 yards or more

1917:

  • Par 3: Up to 250 yards
  • Par 4: 251 to 445 yards
  • Par 5: 446 to 600 yards
  • Par 6: 601 yards or more

1956:

  • Par 3: Up to 250 yards
  • Par 4: 251 to 470 yards
  • Par 5: 471 yards or more

What was before the invention of the par score?

It is quite natural to wonder thinking what was before the par score method. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the system of the par score appeared in golf. But, before that, the total number of strokes that a player used to take was the complete score of that particular player. The winner of the U.S Open 1895, Horace Rawlins, completed a 36 par hole course with a total score of 173. Can you imagine?

Final words

The term par hole score is a fascinating invention in the game of golf. It has revolutionized the complete scoring system and added more professionalism in every player playing this beautiful game.

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