Par (score)
The word "par" is a term in the game of golf
Golf is a precision club and ball sport, in which competing players use many types of clubs to hit balls into a series of holes on a golf course using the fewest number of strokes....

 used to denote the pre-determined number of strokes that a scratch (or 0 handicap) golfer should require to complete a hole, a round (the sum of the pars of the played holes), or a tournament (the sum of the pars of each round). Pars are the central component of stroke play
Stroke play
Stroke play, also known as medal play, is a scoring system in the sport of golf. It involves counting the total number of strokes taken on each hole during a given round, or series of rounds...

, the most common kind of play in professional golf tournaments.

The length of each hole from the tee
Teeing ground
In golf, the teeing ground is the area at the beginning of a hole from which the player's first stroke is taken. When referring to the area, the terms "tee", "tee box", and "teeing ground" are often used interchangeably....

 placement to the pin determines par values for each hole primarily, though not exclusively. Almost invariably, holes are assigned par values between three and five strokes. For a casual player from the middle tees, a par-three hole will range between 100–250 yd (91.4–228.6 m) from the tee to the pin. Par-four holes range between 250–450 yd (228.6–411.5 m), although tournament players will often encounter par-four holes as long as 500 yards (457.2 m) or more, as it is not uncommon for short par-five holes for normal play to be turned into par-four holes in championship play. Par-five holes are typically between 450–600 yd (411.5–548.6 m), but in the modern game, holes of over 600 yards are becoming more common in championship play. Other relevant factors in setting the par for the hole include the terrain and obstacles (such as trees, water hazards, hills, or buildings) that may require a golfer to take more (or fewer) shots. Some golf courses feature par-sixes and, albeit very rarely, par-sevens, although the latter are not recognised by the United States Golf Association
United States Golf Association
The United States Golf Association is the United States' national association of golf courses, clubs and facilities and the governing body of golf for the U.S. and Mexico. Together with The R&A, the USGA produces and interprets the Rules of Golf. The USGA also provides a national handicap system...


Typical championship golf courses have par values of 72, comprising four par-threes, ten par-fours, and four par-fives. While 72 is typical, championship course par can be as high as 73 to as low as 69. Most 18-hole courses not designed for championships still have a par close to 72, though some will be lower. Courses with par above 73 are rare. Courses built on relatively small parcels of land will often be designed as Par-3 Courses, in which every hole is a par-three (for a total par of 54 over 18 holes).

Course and tournament scores

A golfer's score is compared with the par score. If a course has a par of 72 and a golfer takes 75 strokes to complete the course, the golfer's reported score is +3, or "three over par". This means that the golfer has taken three shots more than par to complete the course. If a golfer takes 70 strokes, their reported score is -2, or "two under par".

Tournament scores are reported by totalling the golfer's score relative to par in each round (there are usually four rounds in professional tournaments). If each of the four rounds of a tournament has a par of 72, the tournament par would be 288 and the golfer's score would be recorded relative to the tournament par. For example, a golfer could record a 70 in the first round, a 72 in the second round, a 73 in the third round, and a 69 in the fourth round. This would give the golfer a tournament score of 284, or "four under par".

Hole scores

Scores on each hole are reported in the same way that course scores are given. Names are commonly given to scores on holes relative to par.


The term "bogey" means scoring one stroke over par (+1). "Going round in bogey" originally meant an overall par score, starting at the Great Yarmouth Golf Club in 1890, and based on the phrase "bogey man" and a popular music hall song Here Comes the Bogey Man. Nationally, players competed against Colonel Bogey, and this in turn gave the title to a 1914 marching tune, Colonel Bogey March
Colonel Bogey March
The "Colonel Bogey March" is a popular march that was written in 1914 by Lieutenant F. J. Ricketts , a British army bandmaster who later became director of music for the Royal Marines at Plymouth...


As golf became more standardised in the United States, par scores were tightened and recreational golfers found themselves scoring over par, with bogey changing meaning to one over par. Bogeys are relatively common, even in professional play - so much so that it is considered somewhat noteworthy if a player manages to complete a bogey-free round - and they are very common for many casual and club players.

More than one shot over par is known as a double-bogey (+2), triple-bogey (+3), and so on. However, it is more common to hear higher scores referred to simply by the number of strokes rather than by name. For example, a player, having taken eight shots to negotiate a par-three, would be far more likely to refer to it simply as "an eight" or "being five over par", than a "quintuple bogey". Double-bogeys and worse scores are uncommon for top performers in professional play.


The term "par" means scoring even (E). The golfer has taken as many strokes as the hole's par number. In theory, pars are achieved by two putts, with the remaining shots being used to reach the green. For example, on a par-five hole, a player would be expected to take three shots to reach the green and two shots to putt the ball into the hole. Par derives its name from Latin, in which "par" means equal.


The term "birdie" means scoring one under par (−1). This expression was coined in 1899, at the Atlantic City Country Club
Atlantic City Country Club
The Atlantic City Country Club is a golf club located in Northfield, New Jersey, west of Atlantic City. In addition to a golf course, the club offers banquet and dining facilities. The course resides on in a coastal setting with skyline views of Atlantic City.-History:The club was established in...

 in Northfield
Northfield, New Jersey
Northfield is a city in Atlantic County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city population was 8,624.Northfield was incorporated as a city by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 21, 1905, from portions of Egg Harbor Township...

, New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

. It seems that one day in 1899, three golfers – George Crump (who later built Pine Valley, about 45 miles away), William Poultney Smith (founding member of Pine Valley), and his brother Ab Smith – were playing together when Crump hit his second shot only inches from the cup on a par-four hole after his first shot had struck a bird in flight. Simultaneously, the Smith brothers exclaimed that Crump's shot was "a bird." Crump's short putt left him one under par for the hole, and from that day the three of them referred to such a score as a "birdie." In short order, the entire membership of the club began using the term. As the Atlantic City Country Club, being a resort, had many out-of-town visitors, the expression spread and caught the fancy of all American golfers. The perfect round
Perfect round
Perfect Round is a term used to define a round of eighteen holes of golf where all holes were played at one under par resulting in a score of 54 on a par 72 course, 53 on a par 71 course, 52 on a par 70 course, and 55 on a par 73 course...

 (score of 54 on a par 72 course) is most commonly described as scoring a birdie on all 18 holes, although no player has ever recorded a perfect round in a professional tournament.


The term "eagle" means scoring two under par (−2). Eagles usually occur when golfers hit the ball far enough to reach the green with fewer strokes than expected. This most commonly happens on par fives, though it occasionally occurs on short par-fours. A hole in one
Hole in one
In golf, a hole in one or hole-in-one is when a player hits the ball directly from the tee into the cup with one shot. This is most possible on a par 3 hole. Longer hitters have accomplished this feat on shorter par 4 holes...

 on a par-three hole also results in an eagle. The name is simply analogous to a birdie (see above); the name "eagle" was used as a larger bird representing a better score.


See also: List of professional golfers who have hit an albatross

The term "albatross" means scoring three under par (−3); also called a double eagle in the U.S., by analogy with eagle (the albatross being one of the largest birds) and double bogey. This is an extremely rare score, and occurs most commonly on par-fives with a strong drive and a holed approach shot. Holes in one on par-four holes (generally short ones) are also albatrosses. The first famous albatross was made by Gene Sarazen
Gene Sarazen
Gene Sarazen was an American professional golfer, one of the world's top players in the 1920s and 1930s. He is one of five golfers to win all the current major championships in his career, the Career Grand Slam:U.S...

 in 1935 on the 15th hole at Augusta National Golf Club
Augusta National Golf Club
Augusta National Golf Club, located in Augusta, Georgia, is a famous men's golf club. Founded by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts and designed by Alister MacKenzie on the site of a former indigo plantation, the club opened for play in January 1933. Since 1934, it has played host to the annual...

 during the final round of the Masters Tournament. The double eagle vaulted him into a tie for first place and forced a playoff, which he won the next day. The sportswriters of the day termed it "the shot heard round the world." Albatrosses are much rarer than holes in one; the odds are estimated at one in 1,000,000 while the odds of a hole-in-one are around one in 3,700 to one in 12,500, depending on skill.

Between 1970 and 2003, 84 such shots (an average of fewer than three per year) were recorded on the PGA Tour
PGA Tour
The PGA Tour is the organizer of the main men's professional golf tours in the United States and North America...


Recent well-publicised albatrosses include those scored by Joey Sindelar
Joey Sindelar
Joseph Paul Sindelar is an American professional golfer who currently plays on the Champions Tour.Sindelar was born in Fort Knox, Kentucky while his father was serving in the Army, but has lived in New York for most of his life...

 at the 2006 PGA Championship
2006 PGA Championship
The 2006 PGA Championship was the 88th PGA Championship, played from August 17 to August 20 at Medinah Country Club Course No. 3. The PGA Championship returned to Medinah for the first time since 1999 when Tiger Woods captured his first PGA Championship...

 – only the third in that competition's history, Miguel Ángel Jiménez
Miguel Angel Jiménez
Miguel Ángel Jiménez Rodríguez is a Spanish professional golfer. He has won 18 times on the European Tour.-Early years:...

 while defending his BMW PGA Championship title in 2009, Paul Lawrie
Paul Lawrie
Paul Stewart Lawrie MBE is a Scottish professional golfer who is best known for winning The Open Championship in 1999.-Life and career:...

 in the final round of the 2009 Open Championship
2009 Open Championship
The 2009 Open Championship was the 138th Open Championship, one of the four major golf championships, and was played from 16–19 July at the Turnberry Resort, in Ayrshire, Scotland. It was the fourth time The Open Championship had been played at Turnberry...

, Shaun Micheel
Shaun Micheel
Shaun Carl Micheel is an American golfer who is best known for his surprise victory in 2003 in one of golf's major championships, the PGA Championship....

 on the final day of the 2010 U.S. Open – only the second ever in that competition, and Pádraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington
Pádraig P. Harrington is an Irish professional golfer who plays on The European Tour and The PGA Tour. He has won three major championships: The Open Championship in 2007 and 2008 and the PGA Championship, also in 2008.-Background:...

 in the 2010 WGC-HSBC Champions
2010 WGC-HSBC Champions
The 2010 WGC-HSBC Champions was a golf tournament contested from November 4–7, 2010 at the Sheshan Golf Club in Shanghai, China. It was the second WGC-HSBC Champions tournament, and the fourth of four World Golf Championships events held in 2010...



The term "condor" means scoring four under par (−4). This is the lowest individual hole score ever made. This would be a hole-in-one on a par-five or a two on a par-six. (Par sixes do exist, but are exceptionally rare and an ace has never been recorded on one.) It has been recorded only four times in history, only once on a straight drive (for a record 517 yards or 473 m) and never during a professional tournament.
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