Par (golf scoring format)

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This article is about the scoring system "Par", that is commonly used in Australian club golf as an alternative to Stableford and normal stroke play. The Par (score) page provides a general definition of par on a golf hole.

Par is a scoring system used mostly in amateur and club golf. It involves scoring (+, 0, -) based on results at each hole. The objective is to have an end score with more pluses than minuses. The result on each hole is always based on one's handicap-adjusted score.

For ease of explanation, assume a player's handicap gives him/her one stroke per hole (i.e., 9 hole handicap of 9). This player, playing to his/her handicap on a given day, will average a bogey on each hole. Playing 'to' one's handicap is expected and so there is no reward or punishment due when a bogey 5 is recorded on a par 4. Thus, a 0 (zero) is recorded. A double-bogey 6 (one over what's expected from a player on a 9 handicap, would incur a penalty of a minus '-'. A 4 (a genuine, unadjusted par) is one better than a '9-handicapper' would be expected to score and would earn a plus '+'. However, for this golfer, 6s and above still incur just one minus '-'. Likewise, 4s and below earn just one plus '+'. At the end of the round, plusses and minuses are reconciled (a minus cancels out a plus). If a player finishes with two plusses, s/he is 'two up' or 'plus 2' (+2). The opposite applies if s/he finishes with two minuses - 'two down'; 'minus 2'; '-2'.

Advantages and Disadvantages[edit]

The advantage of Par is that if a player achieves very poor results on a particular hole, s/he may still be able to recover, since a bad result on one hole only counts as one (1) minus, regardless of how many strokes over par the player shot on that hole. Par is also a short-term resolution to slow-play, because once a player cannot play to their adjusted par (i.e., has taken enough strokes to record a '-1' before holing their ball), they can pick up their ball. This is because their result on the hole is already decided. Picking up can be an individual decision or a playing group may discuss doing so if the speed of play is an issue. Par can also restrict scores of the field to within a smaller range. Over 9 holes, the maximum score possible is +9 and the minimum is -9; a range of 18 points. Usually, the differences between players' scores is within a couple of points.

The Par format's main disadvantage is that there is no reward for a handicap-adjusted eagle (or even better).