How is Golf Course Par Determined?

Golf Course Par

Par is an interesting thing to contemplate. It’s a goal all golfers strive to reach, a challenge to test their golfing acumen against the course. Simply stated, par is the number of strokes that it is believed an expert golfer would take to move the ball from the tee to the hole. The idea is that as you advance in your golfing skills, you should be able to meet and perhaps even make it under the golf course par. But how do they actually determine what number of strokes par should be?

How is Par Determined?


While it’s not the only factor in creating the golf course par for each hole, it does play the largest role in generating a number.

The main issue about distance and par is that it’s thought that a scratch golfer can generally send a golf ball more than 275 yards on a single stroke. Of course, that doesn’t take into account all the other hazards that you may encounter on the course, but usually, par is a breakdown of the length from the tee to the hole.


Other factors that help determine a golf course par are those wonderful obstacles that plague golfers of all skill levels. Those hindrances on the terrain, such as water hazards, rises and mounds, trees, bunkers, and even buildings can raise the difficulty of the course and the stroke count for par.

Going for Green

Deciding on the golf course par for a particular hole goes all the way back to when the course is initially being designed. Championship courses are made with a variety of different pars, adding up to an average par of 72 for 18 holes. The thought behind the par given to each hole is that it should take no more than one, two, or three shots to the green and then no more than two shots to the hole. If you really want to improve your handicap, improving your driving and putting become major factors.


Changing Par

Depending on the hole you’re playing, a typical golf course par is 3, 4 or 5 strokes, though it can be as many as 7. Maybe it doesn’t sound particularly fair, but for championship, play the golf course par can be lowered by a stroke, turning a 500-yard par 5 hole into a par 4. For those striving to make their name on the circuit, simply reaching par isn’t good enough.

Technology Playing Through

Remember the scratch golfer hitting an average of 275 yards? That certainly was before the invention of technology that helps many golfers make greater lengths with their drives. While golfers have a history of blaming their equipment, this is an instance where their equipment is working entirely too well. While technology and even the golf course par may change in the future, what stays constant is the challenge golfers face as they continually work to enhance their play.

If you’re looking to work in the professional golf world, you’ll need to get your golfing knowledge and skills up to par.

Contact Keiser University’s College of Golf to see how our master professionals and golf degree programs can help you out.

Updated from blog originally published Feb.13, 2015


  1. Can a 160 yard hole for ladies be a par 4 if there is 65 yards of rough from the end of the fair way to the green?

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