What is a Par in Golf? Everything You Need To Know

By Chris Moore •  Updated on 02/15/22

Par is a term used in golf to denote the number of strokes that it should take for an average golfer to score, from teeing up the ball into the hole.

What does this mean exactly?

Par is the playing difficulty of a specific hole or course. If you are looking to compare the difficulty level of multiple holes, courses, or locations then the par rating is an excellent metric for comparison between venues.

However, it should be noted that this does not take into account any particular player’s characteristics such as their skill levels and abilities.

It tells you how many shots over or under par you need on any given hole in order to break even with respect to the standard scorecard.

Par of an individual hole

The par of an individual hole is the number of strokes it should take an average golfer to complete that hole.

Generally speaking, the most common par on an individual hole is 4.

This is determined by taking a look at the distance from tee to green, as well as the layout and features of the hole.

For example, a Par 3 hole will be much easier than a Par 5 hole due to its shorter distance.

Par of a golf course

When looking at the par of an entire golf course, it usually averages at around 72.

This is because there are 18 holes on a golf course, and each hole has its own unique par.

There may be some variation in this number, but it gives you a general idea of the difficulty level of a course.

Are there exceptions?

Yes! There are definitely courses out there that have different pars for different holes.

For example, some courses may have more par 3s than par 5s, making it a par 70 or 71 course – it all depends.

Par and hole distance

As the USGA rules state, there are guidelines for determining par based on the distance of the hole.

For men, here are the recommendations:

For women, here are the recommendations:

As you can see, there is an overlap in the distances and pars. Some courses are harder due to the layout of the hole, hazards, and other features – that’s why the yardage may vary!

What’s the typical approach to scoring par?

When you’re looking to score par, you’ll want to factor in how many shots it will take to reach the green, and add two putts.

You can also take into account the distance of the green, as well as its width. If the green is particularly difficult to hit, or if there’s a water hazard in play, you’ll likely need more than two shots to get on the green—in which case, your goal would be to shoot under par.

Generally speaking, golfers are trying to shoot under par on each hole, with the goal of finishing at or below par for the entire course.

Although this is rare unless you’re a scratch golfer, it’s important to set goals and try to achieve them!

What other scores can you shoot in golf?

Apart from the typical par, there are a few other scoring terms for golf:

Does the average golfer shoot par in golf?

Absolutely not, the average golfer shoots well above par.

I would say the average golfer scores between 45-55 on 9 holes, and 90-110 on 18 holes.

Ultimately, it depends on a lot of different factors, including your club selection, ability to hit the green in regulation (GIR), as well as how many putts it takes you.

Remember – par gives you a good general idea of what type of score you should shoot if conditions are average for that course on any given day.

If there’s wind, rain, or other factors, it will affect your ability to score well.


After reading this, you should understand everything about what par is in golf!

While you may not score many pars on your first few rounds, with a bit of practice you’ll be able to shoot par more and more frequently.

Just remember to take into account the distance and difficulty of each hole when planning your approach so you’re in a position to score a par.

Chris Moore

Hi, I'm Chris Moore and I'm the guy behind As an avid golfer since 2010, I decided to create this blog to share everything I've learned over the years. Whether it's golf equipment, swing tips, or anything in-between, I want to make sure you have everything you need to become a better golfer.