Are you new to golf and looking to learn all the golf scoring terms?
The main golf scoring terms are par, birdie, eagle, bogey, double-bogey, and triple bogey.
Golf can be complicated with all the different names for scores and terminology. I know because I’ve been playing golf my entire life and I enjoy watching golf on TV.
I’ve compiled a list including the rare scores so that you can understand the game of golf a little better.
I’ve also included the two main formats you can play and compete in golf, stroke play and match play.
Here’s the list:
What is a Par in Golf?
Under Par and Over Par
How is Par determined for a hole?
What is a birdie?
What is a bogey?
What is an Eagle?
All scoring revolves around “par” so continue reading to learn all the scoring terms!
What is a par in golf?
The term par in golf refers to the score a good golfer should make on a particular hole. All scores in golf relate to the par score of a hole.
Almost all holes in golf are either a par 3, par 4, or par 5. If you total up the par score of every hole on a particular golf course you will get the par score for the course.
Par for a typical 18 hole golf course is usually 72, but it generally ranges between 69 and 73.
Under par and over par
Par is not always the same at every golf course. It’s often more accurate to state your score as being a certain number under or over par.
If par for a golf course is 72 and a golfer scores a 70, you could also say her score was 2 under par.
If her playing partner that day scored a 75, you could say she was 3 over par.
How is par determined for a hole?
Par for a hole is usually determined by the length of the hole. The longer the hole, the more difficult it is.
However, other difficulty factors play a role in determining par as well.
The USGA recommends the following:
Par 3: Up to 260 yards for men and up to 220 yards for women
Par 4: 240 to 490 yards for men and 200 to 420 yards for women
Par 5: 450 to 710 yards for men and 370 to 600 yards for women
Par 6: 670 yards and up for men and 570 yards and up for women
(it is very rare for a golf course to have a par 6 hole)
What is a birdie?
A birdie is a score of 1 less than par on a hole.
2 strokes on a par 3 hole
3 strokes on a par 4 hole
4 strokes on a par 5 hole
A birdie is represented on a scorecard with a circle around the score.
What is a bogey?
A bogey is a score of 1 more than par on a hole.
4 strokes on a par 3
5 strokes on a par 4
6 strokes on a par 5
A bogey is represented on a scoreboard with a square around the score.
A double bogey is a score of 2 more than par on a hole.
5 strokes on a par 3
6 strokes on a par 4
7 strokes on a par 5
You guessed it! A triple bogey is a score of 3 more than par on a hole.
6 strokes on a par 3
7 strokes on a par 4
8 strokes on a par 5
A quadruple bogey is also referred to as the dreaded “quad”. It is a score of 4 more than par on a hole.
This is pretty much where the scoring terms for scores over par stop. If you have reached 4 over par on a hole you generally should pick up your ball and move on to the next hole.
It’s considered good golf etiquette to keep up your pace of play and not slow down the groups behind you.
What is an Eagle?
An eagle is a score of 2 under par on a hole. This is usually achieved on a par 5 hole by scoring a 3 on the hole and sometimes by scoring a 2 on a par 4.
What about an eagle on a par 3? That would be a hole in one! You would definitely rather say you scored a hole in one or an “ace” than an eagle if you ever get the chance!
An ace is a hole in one. The odds of an average golfer making a hole in one are 12,500 to 1!
Now we are getting into the very rare scores. An albatross is a score of 3 under par on a hole. This would mean you finished a par 5 in 2 strokes. Believe it or not this is even more rare than a hole in one!
You might also hear the term “double eagle” instead of albatross.
PGA TOUR player Max Homa coined the term “beagle” by combining birdie and eagle on one hole. We’ll see if the beagle catches on…
The condor is the rarest score in golf and has only been recorded 5 times in history. A condor is 4 strokes under par on a single hole.
Generally you are going to need a hole in one on a par 5 for a condor but the most recent recorded condor was on a par 6 hole. Personally I’ve never played a golf course with a par 6 hole so I don’t think there are many opportunities out there.
So far we’ve been discussing scoring terms for scores on individual golf holes but there are different ways to compete in golf. The two standard formats are stroke play and match play.
In stroke play, each stroke is counted and a score is recorded for each hole. Once the round is completed each hole’s score is added together and the total is the round score.
In a stroke play tournament the player with the lowest score wins. If there are multiple rounds played each round score is combined for a tournament score. As mentioned before, the actual score may be used or the score in relation to par. You might say, “the winner was 7 under par”.
In match play two players compete to win each hole. The player with the lowest score on the hole wins the hole. To win the match you must win more holes than your opponent.
Up or Down
If a player has won 2 more holes than his opponent you might say he is up 2.
Conversely if he has lost 2 holes you could say he is down 2.
If the match is tied you would say the match is “all square”.
If the players finish the hole with the same score (a tie) you would say they halved the hole. If the entire match is completed in a tie you would say the match was halved.
A player is dormie when his lead is equal to the number of holes left to play.
For example, if a player is up 3 with 3 left to play he is dormie. They only need to win or halve the next hole to win the entire match as there are not enough holes left for the opponent to regain a lead.
Now you know all of the golf scoring terms including the most rare scores. You should be able to watch golf on TV follow along much easier now.
Believe it or not there are still a ton of other golf terms you should know!