Par, we all say it, and even those of us professional golfers know what it means, but what does it really mean, and where is the word par derived?
Golf is full of funny terms like that might make people who have no idea about the game laugh their bums off. Terms like birdie, eagle, mulligan, albatross, and condor are just a few such funny phrases. But today, it’s all about par.
Let’s get started!
What Is Par In Golf?
Par simply refers to how many shots a golfer should take to finish a particular hole.
Even if you’re not a golfer, chances are you’ve heard of the terms birdie, eagle, and par. Par for each hole is set by the USGA and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.
The longer the hole, the higher the par, and the shorter the hole, the lower the par. For example, a par 3-hole might be 175 yards meaning you need three shots to finish the hole, while a par-5 might be 500 yards meaning you need five shots to complete the hole.
What Is Par Of An Individual Hole?
When you play golf, there are three different lengths of holes on the golf course that you’ll come across. The vast majority of the holes are made up of par 4s, with the remaining holes being par 3s and par 5s. It’s pretty straightforward.
But the question remains, what is the value assigned to par for each of the holes? Basically, par means the number of strokes it should take a golfer to reach the putting green plus two additional putts. If you’d like to learn more, read about the rules of the game here.
- Par 3 – One stroke is assigned to reach the green and two additional strokes for putting.
- Par 4 – Two shots are assigned to reach the green and two additional strokes for putting.
- Par 5 – Three shots are assigned to reach the green and two additional strokes for putting.
What Is Par Of A Golf Course
When we start talking about par for the golf course, it simply refers to the total number of strokes it should take to complete that specific golf course. Most championship golf courses have pars of 70, 71, and 72.
The way you calculate the total par for the course is to add up all 18 holes. For example, if a golf course has ten par 4s, four par 3s, and four par 5s, the total par for the course would be 72. It should be noted that par 72 is the most common par for the course, followed by 71 and 70.
What Is Par In Relation To Scoring?
When you play golf, your score relates to the par of the hole and then, finally, the golf course. Let’s say you’re playing a par 5 and take five shots to complete the hole; in this instance, you can say, “you’ve parred the hole.”
However, what happens if you took 6 shots to play the hole instead of 5? In this case, you can say, “you’re one-over par,” or you’ve “bogeyed” the hole. The same would ring true if you took 4 shots; now you can say, “you’re one-under par,” or you’ve birdied the hole.
You can also use this same method after you’ve completed the entire 18-holes. Let’s say you’ve played a par 72 golf course and you’ve taken 69 shots to complete the round; in this case, you can say you are “3 under par,” and if you’ve taken 80 shots, then you can say you’re “8 over par.”
What Is The History Of Par In Golf?
Par is one of the most common terms in the game of golf, but where did the term originate? And has the definition of par changed over time? The term par started way back in the early 1900s when players totaled their strokes just as they do today, the only difference being that they had nothing to reference it against.
The term par was originally part of the stockmarket vernacular when stockbrokers would refer to the stocks as “coming in under or over par.” Par was officially used in play at the 1911 U.S. Open; however, although players counted their shots, none of the holes had par yet.
Par From 1911
- Par 3: 0 yards to 225 yards
- Par 4: 226 yards to 425 yards
- Par 5: 425 yards and up
The following change occurred six years later when the USGA changed the defining distances of par.
Par From 1917
- Par 3: 0 yards to 250 yards
- Par 4: 251 yards to 445 yards
- Par 5: 446 yards and up
The final change came in 1956, but many expect a change soon to help combat the advancement of modern golfing technology.
Par From 1956
- Par 3: 0 to 250 yards
- Par 4: 251 yards to 470 yards
- Par 5: 471 yards and up