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Golf Score Terms

by William McCoy

    Like many other sports, golf is a game full of words that can seem confusing to the inexperienced player. If you're new to the game, it might take you a period of time to get accustomed to the sport's specific terms, including those related to scoring. By learning the correct terms for each score in golf, you can sound knowledgeable among your peers even if you're still a beginner.

    Par

    "Par" is the term used to describe the number of stroke a skilled golfer is expected to take on a hole. On a par-4 hole, for example, this golfer would typically take to shots to reach the green and then two putts to get the ball in the hole. A par-3 hole is shorter, so the skilled golfer should be able to reach the green on his first shot. A par-5 hole is longer, so the skilled golfer would be expected to take three shots to reach the green. Par-6 holes are rare, but they do exist. Each hole's par is marked on the scorecard and on a sign posted at the hole's tee box. A standard 18-hole course typically has a total par of 72, although it's not unusual to find par-70 or par-71 courses.

    Birdie

    If a golfer score a birdie, he finished the hole with a score of 1 under par. On a par-4 hole, a birdie is a score of 3. A birdie is a significant accomplishment for any golfer. In a tournament, a birdie usually helps a player gain ground on the leader. A birdie is possible on a hole with any par.

    Eagle

    When a player is able to finish a hole at two strokes below par, he has scored an eagle. An eagle on a par-3 hole is a hole in one, also known as an "ace."

    Hole-In-One

    A hole-in-one is arguably the biggest accomplishment an amateur golfer can experience. This term is given to the situation in which a golfer's shot off the tee winds up in the hole. It's most common on par-3 holes, in which the green is typically reachable from the tee box. Another term occasionally used to describe a hole-in-one is an ace.

    How Low Can You Go?

    The equivalent of a double eagle, or three strokes below par, is called an albatross. It's one of the rarest scores in golf -- even rarer than a hole in one. A double eagle is the same as a hole in one on a par 4 or a score of two on a par-5 hole.

    Bogey

    When you finish a hole with a score of 1 over par, this score is called a bogey. If you finish two strokes over par, it's called a double bogey. Someone who is said to play "bogey golf" averages a bogey a round, meaning he would post a score of 90 on a par-72 golf course.

    Resources

    About the Author

    Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as health, nutrition and sports. He has spent much of his career in community news, including at "Nepean This Week" newspaper, and has written for "Canadian Sports Collector" magazine. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.