What is the definition of Par in Golf?

Par is a fundamental concept in the game of golf, and it serves as a benchmark for golfers to measure their performance on each hole and throughout an entire round. In golf, par refers to the predetermined number of strokes that a proficient golfer is expected to require to complete a hole or an entire course. By establishing this standard, players of all skill levels can gauge their progress and aim for improvement.

The par value is typically assigned based on the length and difficulty of a hole, taking into account factors such as distance, terrain, and obstacles. Golf holes are usually designated as par 3, par 4, or par 5, depending on the expected number of strokes needed to reach the green and complete the hole with two putts. Par is not only essential for individual performance evaluation but also serves as the foundation for scoring systems in various golf formats, such as stroke play and match play.

Key Takeaways

  • Par is the benchmark for golfers, representing the standard number of strokes needed for proficient players to complete a hole or course.
  • The assignment of par values considers factors like distance, terrain, and obstacles, with holes typically classified as par 3, par 4, or par 5.
  • Understanding and achieving par is crucial for evaluating individual performance and serves as the basis for scoring systems in different golf formats.

Definition of Par in Golf

Par in golf refers to the number of strokes that an expert golfer is expected to need to complete an individual hole or a round of golf holes, typically consisting of 18 or 9 holes. It serves as both the standard to which golfers aspire, as well as the baseline for describing their scores.

Golf courses comprise different par-rated holes, which can usually be classified as par-3, par-4, or par-5 holes. Each of these ratings signifies the number of strokes an expert golfer should take to complete that specific hole. For instance, a par-3 hole means that a skilled golfer should be able to complete it in three strokes.

The total par for a golf course is calculated by adding up the par ratings of all individual holes. This total par serves as a benchmark for golfers, allowing them to compare their scores with the expert level. For instance, a par-71 golf course indicates that an expert golfer should be able to complete all the holes with a total of 71 strokes.

In addition to the standard par, golf relies on a handicap system that allows players of different abilities to compete against each other. This system leads to the concept of “net par,” which is defined as a score equal to the par of a hole adjusted for any handicap strokes applied on that hole.

Par is an essential aspect of golf, as it allows for fair and standardized comparisons between players and their skills. It is a guiding concept and a cornerstone of the sport’s scoring system.

Origin and History of Par

Par in golf refers to a pre-determined number of strokes that an accomplished golfer is expected to take to complete a hole or a round. It is a commonly used benchmark in golf to determine a player’s score and gauge their skill level.

The origin of the word “par” can be traced back to the Latin term, which means “equal” or “equality.” It had been in use long before the game of golf adopted it as a standard. In general contexts, the word was often used to denote average, ordinary, or regularity of a situation or a standard level of achievement.

Par officially became part of the golf lexicon in 1911 when the United States Golf Association (USGA) adopted the term. However, it had been informally associated with the game since the late 1800s. The term began to gain more prominence as golf courses started standardizing hole lengths and allocating a specific number of strokes for each hole.

In contemporary golf, an 18-hole course usually has a par of 70, 71, or 72. This number is determined by adding up the individual par for each hole on the course. Par values typically range from 3 to 5, with longer holes generally having higher par values. These values help golfers assess their performance and compare their scores with those of other players.

To summarize, the term “par” has its roots in Latin and has been part of the English language since the 16th century. It was officially incorporated into the game of golf in the early 20th century and has since become a key element in determining golf scores and evaluating player abilities.

Importance of Par in Golf

Strategic Planning

Par in golf plays a crucial role as it serves as a benchmark for golfers of all skill levels. It helps them develop strategic planning before attempting a shot. By understanding the par for a particular hole, golfers can determine and analyze the strokes they need to take to achieve or beat it. This understanding allows them to make strategic decisions regarding club selection, risk-taking, and precise shot execution.

Rating Difficulty

Moreover, par is important for rating the difficulty of a golf course. Golf courses consist of a mixture of holes with different pars (par-3, par-4, and par-5). The total number of pars for all the 18 holes generally falls between 70 and 72. A course’s difficulty is influenced by the number of high-par holes it has. For example, a course with a higher number of par-4 and par-5 holes is considered more challenging than a course with predominantly par-3 holes. This distinction makes it easier for golfers to choose courses that are suitable for their abilities and practice needs.

Furthermore, par serves as a standardized measure to compare golfers’ performance in tournaments. By noting the number of strokes a golfer takes compared to the par (such as even-par, under-par, or over-par), players, spectators, and analysts can easily gauge a golfer’s performance relative to others. Consequently, it assists in the ranking and statistical analysis of golfers globally.

Determining Par in Golf

Hole Distance

Par in golf is determined primarily by the distance of each hole on the course. The length between the tee and the hole determines whether a hole is classified as a par-3, par-4, or par-5. Generally speaking, a par-3 hole ranges from 100 to 240 yards, a par-4 hole spans between 241 to 470 yards, and a par-5 hole stretches from 471 to 690 yards. These distances are approximate and may vary depending on the course design.


In addition to the hole distance, obstacles on the golf course also play a significant role in establishing par. Course designers consider the presence of hazards such as water, bunkers, trees, and rough terrain when determining the par for each hole. A hole with more challenging obstacles may require additional strokes for an expert golfer to complete, affecting the designated par value.

Variations of Par

Birdie and Eagle

A birdie is a golf score that is one stroke below par on a hole. Golfers strive to achieve birdies to improve their overall scores. For example, when a golfer scores a 3 on a par-4 hole, they have made a birdie.

An eagle is a score that is two strokes below par on a hole. Achieving an eagle is a significant accomplishment in golf as it shows high skill and precise shot-making. For instance, an eagle would mean a score of 3 on a par-5 hole or a 2 on a par-4 hole.

Bogey and Double Bogey

A bogey is a golf score that is one stroke above par on a hole. It represents a less-than-optimal performance on a hole and indicates areas where a golfer might need to improve. For example, a golfer scoring a 5 on a par-4 hole has made a bogey.

A double bogey is a golf score that is two strokes above par on a hole. This result shows that a golfer encountered difficulty on a hole, possibly due to poor shot execution or challenging conditions. A double bogey on a par-4 hole would mean a score of 6.

In summary, par is a golf term that denotes the number of strokes an experienced golfer is expected to take to complete a hole. Variations of par, such as birdie, eagle, bogey, and double bogey, allow golfers to compare their scores and skill levels with the standard benchmark of par.