What Is A Par In Golf? [Can You Make One?]

If you’re just starting out in the game of golf, you might be hearing the word par’ come up quite often. A par is a very common term used in golf and can have a few different variations of the same meaning.

So what is a par in golf, can you make one and why is it called a par?

Let’s get into it and find out a little more about the term par in golf.

What Is A Par In Golf?

What Is A Par In Golf?

Par For The Hole

First of all, par is used to determine the number of shots required on a hole. The most common type of pars on a hole are a par 3, par 4 and par 5. There are some courses which have a par 6, but this is far more rare and you won’t see many of them around.

If a hole is a par 4 for example, this means a player should aim to make a score of 4 to be even or level par on that hole. A score of level par means that the number of shots recorded matches that of the par for the hole.

Of course, with the handicap system in golf, this means that golfers don’t have to score the required par to still be level par on a hole. A golfer with an 18 handicap will have 1 extra shot on a hole, which allows them to score a 5 on a par 4 and make a ‘net par’. The handicap system in golf therefore allows golfers of all abilities to compete with all varying levels of player in competitions.

The par given on a hole is usually determined by the length of the hole. Sometimes other factors can be taken into consideration, such as changes in elevation or prevailing wind conditions, however the main factor is the distance from the tee to the green.

The following is a guideline set out by the R&A to help determine a holes par:

guideline set out by the R&A to help determine a holes par

Image source: R&A

This can be used as a guideline for getting a par setup for a hole. Generally most courses will stick with these rules, however there will be some cases where a par 4 is under 240 yards. On the PGA Tour there’s even a few par 4s that are over 490 yards. As the game gets longer, with better technology, the guidelines on hole lengths have changed to accommodate for players hitting it much further than 50 years ago.

As mentioned, if you’re making the required shot on a hole based on its par, then that in itself is called a score of ‘par’. A score of one less than par is a birdie, two shots less than par is an eagle and three shots less is an albatross. On the other side of par are the bogeys. A score of over par is a bogey, two over par is a double bogey, three over the par is a triple bogey and so on.

Par For The Course

Even if you’re not a golfer, you’ve probably heard the term ‘par for the course’. It basically means an event that is expected and this also helps to explain what the par for a course in golf is. The par for a course in golf essentially means the number of shots that a player is expected to make.

If a player is off a handicap of 0, this means that they should be shooting a score that is level to the par of the course, For example, if the par is 70 for the 18 holes, the player off a handicap of 0 should be making 70 shots, for them to be ‘level par’ for the round.

The par for the course is a combination of the 18 individual hole pars, usually made up of par 3s, par 4s and par 5s. Most courses off the mens tees will have a par of between 68 and 72. Occasionally you will see a par of less than 68 or a par of more than 72. But in most cases, it will be around the 70 mark for an 18 hole course.

Par For The Course

The par for the course, split into two nines.

Making A Par

So now we know what a par is terms of the the scorecard, but making a par is also a term used in golf to describe a score on a hole.

If you make a par on a hole, that means you’ve scored the same amount of shots as the par for the hole. For example, if you made a score of 3 on a par 3, this would be a par on that hole.

You might hear something similar to the following which refers to the score of par:

“He needs to make a par down the last to win.” or “She needs this putt for par to stay at 2 under.”

Making a par is a great score for most golfers and is something they should be striving to do on every hole. For 99% of golfers out there, they will have a handicap of more than 0, which means they’ll get a few shots over their round which can be deducted.

Therefore if a player off 18 handicap makes a par, taking away their one handicap shot on that hole will give them a ‘net birdie’. As a result, a par for that golfer would be a very good score.

How To Make A Par?

Compared to a birdie or an eagle, making a par is much easier. With courses set up the way they are, it lends itself to golfers making a par if they’re a fairly good level.

The hole par guidelines mean that it’s structured so that players can reach the green in regulation and then have two putts for a par. There will of course be a lot of golfers out there that cannot reach a 230-yard par 3 in regulation (one shot). However, it is set up fairly so that most golfers, if at a good standard, can get to the green with a couple putts left for par.

Now if you want to be making pars, you’ll need to be consistent with your ball striking on the course. If you can hit fairways and give yourself a chance of hitting the green in two on a par 4, this will mean it’s easier to make a score of par.

As always, to get to a level required to hit fairways and greens it takes time to work on your game and practice your swing. Once you’re hitting the ball nicely and becoming consistent with your hitting, making a par will become easy and you might even make a few birdies or eagles.

Being able to scramble is also an important skill to acquire, especially when you want to start making pars. Inevitably, you will hit a few bad shots, but it’s about being able to get up and down and scramble from those poor positions.

Final Thoughts

A par in golf can mean a few different things, however they all essentially boil down to the same thing – par is a number given to a hole in golf to determine the score required.

You’ve got the par for a hole, the par for the course and making a ‘par’ on a hole. Making a par is easier than making a birdie, but harder than making a bogey.

Learn a little more about a birdie or an eagle and how to make one.

Ed Welton

Founder, Editor

Ed is the founder and editor at EEE Golf. He’s been playing golf for over 20 years, competing in many top amateur events. He’s played courses all over the world and played with some of the best players in the game. His aim is to help educate people about the game of golf and give insights into the sport he loves most.

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