What Is Par In Golf? – Explained!

meaning of par in golf

Golf is known to be a technical sport full of technical terms that you may not know the meaning of. One of those golf terms commonly thrown out in conversation and television broadcasts is the word “par”.

If you are reading this article, you may wonder: What exactly does “par” mean in golf?

In this article, we will explain to you exactly what par is in golf, along with some examples to solidify your comprehension.

What Is Par In Golf?

In golf, par is the number of strokes (shots) a scratch golfer (an excellent golfer) would require to complete a given golf hole or golf course. The par number is generally 3 to 5 for a single golf hole, around 72 for an 18-hole golf course, and around 36 for a 9-hole golf course.

In the great game of golf, the term “par” is a word that is omnipresent on golf courses.

In golf, the “par” is the number of strokes or shots a scratch golfer would require to complete a given golf hole or golf course. This means that there is a par number for each individual golf hole, and a par number for an entire golf course.

A scratch golfer, whose performance sets the “par” number, is an excellent golfer whose skill level is very close to professional level.

PGA Tour professionals usually score anywhere between 0 and 10 strokes above or below par during a tournament. It is a lot more common to see pros score 10 over par than under par. Even for professionals, consistently breaking par is difficult sometimes.

Most people score over par in golf, meaning they require more shots than a scratch golfer to complete a given golf hole or golf course.

For any individual golf hole, the par number is typically between 3 and 5, but there are exceptions. For an entire golf course, the par number is the sum of the par numbers of each individual golf hole it is made of.

An 18-hole golf course typically has a par number that hovers around 72. The par number for your 18-hole golf course may be a bit higher or lower.

A 9-hole golf course typically has a par number that hovers around 36. The par number for your 9-hole golf course may be a bit higher or lower.

To calculate golf score, a golfer will compare the number of strokes they required to complete a hole or golf course to the par rating provided.  This will give a differential rating.

For example:

              If a golfer requires 7 strokes to complete a par 5 golf hole, their score for that hole will be:

              Score for Hole = Strokes Required – Par Rating = 7 – 5 = +2

In such a case, the golfer scored 2 strokes above par. A positive golf score is less desirable than a negative golf score.

A different way par is used is to see how well your overall, non-differential score compares to that of a scratch golfer. For example, for an entire golf course with a par rating of 72, you may have required 90 strokes.

By comparing 90 to 72, you can easily see that you have a long way to go before reaching scratch golfer level. If you wish to improve your golf score, you can read our guide: How To Improve Your Golf Score? – 9 Pro Tips.


There you go! After reading this article, you have learned exactly what the word par means in golf. You also got to read some real-world examples to further improve your understanding of the meaning of par.

Do you have any other words you wish to know about? Do you dream of breaking par someday? Let us know in the comments down below!