Golf Scores Explained

By John Lindell

golfer hitting a tee shot
The many strange-sounding terms that golfers throw around can confuse the player new to the sport. Scoring terms in particular will puzzle the novice unless she takes the time to find out what they mean. Players first need to understand "par" and work from there.


"Par" is the term that designates the number of strokes a golfer should need to play a particular hole. Par figures on a player requiring two putts once he is on the green. Holes are par 3, 4 or 5.

Other Scoring Terms

The terms "eagle," "birdie" and "bogey" describe a score of 2 under par, 1 under par and 1 over par, respectively.

Course Pars

Players calculate par for an entire round of golf by adding together the pars of all 18 holes on the course. Par falls within the range of 70 to 72 for the vast majority of 18-hole golf courses.

Tournament Pars

Par for a tournament is calculated by multiplying the par for the course by the number of rounds that make up the tournament, which characteristically is four for professionals. Therefore, on a par-72 golf course, par for a four-round tournament would be 288.

Under and Over

Under or over par depicts the efforts of a player during a round or tournament. For instance, someone who shoots a score of 67 on a par-72 course would have a score of 5 under par.

About the Author

John has written thousands of articles for Demand Studios, Associated Content and The Greyhound Review. A Connecticut native, John has written extensively about sports, fishing, and nature.