What Does A Par Mean In Golf?

Starting a new hobby can always be frustrating, especially when it comes to learning all the jargon that more experienced enthusiasts use casually. Golf certainly has its own vocabulary and unfortunately, it can often be difficult to keep up with what everything means.

If you ever find yourself wondering “what does a par mean in golf?” don’t worry, we have you covered. Read on to find out.


Ok. So, what does a par mean in golf?

Par is the standard by which you measure your score to the difficulty of the hole. Generally speaking, holes come in the shape of par 3s, par 4s, and par 5s, though several courses have now introduced par 6s into the equation.

If a hole is a par 3, it will ideally take you three shots to get the ball into the hole, and so on and so forth.

How is the par of a hole determined?


That I where the issue gets a little bit complicated. While par is the ideal score that you can make on a hole, it is also not an accurate barometer for what most players should expect to make.

Par actually represents how many shots it should take the game’s best players to make the ball into the hole. Here’s how they figure it out. A course planner will look at the length of the hole, as well as, to a lesser extent, hazards, dog tails, and green difficulty.

For a hole of five hundred yards or more (sometimes 450 or more depending on where you are playing), the course designer will figure that a golfer should take three shots getting on the green, and two putts to get the ball in the hole. A par 5.

For a hole of four hundred and fifty yards or less, the course designer will most likely decide that it should take two shots to reach the green, and then two putts to get the ball in the hole. A par 4.

For a hole of two hundred yards or less, the course designer will most likely assume that it should take a player one shot to reach the green, and then two putts to get the ball in the hole, a par three.

The problem? The vast majority of golfers are incapable of playing at this caliber.

So what do us hackers do?


Well, unfortunately, there isn’t much that you can do besides to manage your expectations and try your best to make pars whenever you can. While you are struggling to accomplish this, you can at least take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. The vast majority of golfers do not regularly card pars.

There is one way that the game extends a hand to those struggling. It’s through the handicap system. The handicap system is extremely complicated, but in essence, it is a way in which you can compile your average scores to determine what a more reasonable expectation to get the ball in the hole is for you.

For example, if you usually shoot thirty over par for a score of one hundred, you can use your handicap to compete against a player that actually is a par golfer. You will play the match with a handicap of thirty, and be given thirty strokes throughout the course of the match. In other words, par might be five on a given hole for your friend, while you can make a seven or eight and still get an adjusted score of par.

The handicap system is mostly only used in competitive situations, but it is nice to know that there is an option out there for beginner golfers who do not want to be held to the same standards as the game’s best.



Well, there you have it. You will never need to wonder what does a par mean in golf again. I know that it sounds a little bit overwhelming but the truth of the matter is that most players are in the same boat.

As you are starting out in the game, try not to focus too much on your score. Chances are your victories are going to be small to start with. Making a long putt, getting the ball in the air for the first time, hitting a decent chip. Eventually, good results will come, but until then just focus on having fun. The rest will follow eventually.

Paul Durante

My name is Paul, and I truly love the game of golf. I’ve been playing for many years now, but still regularly discover new things about the sport. I believe that blogs like this can go a long way in helping people understand this game’s rich history and rules, and I am very proud to have the opportunity to contribute.

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