What Is a Good Score in Golf: Demystifying the Game for All Skill Levels

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what is a good score in golf

Golf is a fascinating sport that enthralls both avid players and spectators alike. However, one of the most common questions beginner players ask is, “What is a good score in golf?” This comprehensive guide will help you understand the factors determining a good golf score, explore average golf scores for various skill levels, and provide actionable tips to improve your game.

Golf Scoring Basics


To understand what constitutes a good score in golf, it’s essential to be familiar with the common terms used in the sport:

  • Par: The standard number of strokes an expert golfer is expected to take to complete a hole.
  • Birdie: A score of one stroke less than par on a hole.
  • Eagle: A score of two strokes less than par on a hole.
  • Bogey: A score of one stroke more than par on a hole.

How Scores Are Calculated

Understanding how scores are calculated in golf is crucial to gauging your performance and progress. So let’s dive deeper into the scoring system in golf and how it works for individual holes and the entire course.

Individual Hole Scoring

Each hole on a golf course has a designated par, which represents the number of strokes an expert golfer is expected to take to complete that specific hole. For example, a par-3 hole means an expert golfer should finish the hole in three strokes. Your score on a hole depends on how many strokes you take compared to the hole’s par:

  • If you complete a hole in the same number of strokes as the par, your score is a “par.”
  • If you complete a hole in one stroke less than the par, your score is a “birdie.”
  • If you finish a hole in two strokes less than the par, your score is an “eagle.”
  • Conversely, if you complete a hole in one stroke more than the par, your score is a “bogey.”
  • If you complete a hole in two strokes more than the par, your score is a “double bogey,” and so on.

Note: There’s a golf variation known as “bogey golf,” where the goal is to score higher than a bogey and win the hole. The scoring for this variation differs from the one covered in this article.

Total Course Scoring

To calculate your total score for a golf course, you must add your scores for each of the 18 holes. Most golf courses consist of par-3, par-4, and par-5 holes, with a standard total par of 72 for 18 holes.

For example, if you scored a birdie on a par-3 hole, your score would be 2 for that hole. If you then scored a bogey on a par-4 hole, your score for that hole would be 5. Your score for these two holes would be 7 (2 + 5).

After playing all 18 holes, you will have a score for each hole, and you can calculate your total score by adding them together. This total score represents your performance for the entire round of golf, with lower scores indicating better performance.

Remember that, as a golfer, your goal is to consistently lower your total score over time. Analyzing your performance on individual holes and the overall course can help you identify areas for improvement and adjust your practice and strategy accordingly.

what is a good score in golf

Factors Affecting a Good Golf Score

When evaluating what constitutes a good golf score, it’s essential to consider the golfer’s skill level. Skill levels can be grouped into several categories, each with a different expected score range. So let’s delve deeper into these skill levels and the factors that affect them.

Beginner Golfers

Beginner golfers are new to the sport or have limited experience. Their scores tend to be higher due to a lack of familiarity with the game’s techniques, strategies, and course management. Factors that affect beginner golfers’ scores include:

  • Inconsistent swing mechanics
  • Limited knowledge of golf rules and etiquette
  • Poor course management skills
  • Difficulty with the short game (chipping and putting)
  • Insufficient practice and experience

As beginner golfers gain experience and improve their skills, their scores will likely decrease over time.

Intermediate Golfers

Intermediate golfers have more experience and a better understanding of golf techniques, rules, and strategies. Their scores are generally lower than those of beginners. Factors that influence intermediate golfers’ scores include:

  • More consistent swing mechanics
  • Better course management and decision-making
  • Improved short game skills
  • Greater familiarity with golf equipment
  • Continued practice and learning from experience

As intermediate golfers refine their skills and focus on specific areas of improvement, they can continue to lower their scores.

Advanced and Professional Golfers

Advanced and professional golfers deeply understand the game and have honed their skills through years of practice, training, and competition. These golfers typically achieve lower scores than intermediate and beginner golfers. Factors that impact advanced and professional golfers’ scores include:

  1. Highly refined and consistent swing mechanics
  2. Excellent course management and strategic decision-making
  3. Mastery of the short game (chipping, pitching, and putting)
  4. Optimal equipment selection and customization
  5. Mental strength and ability to handle pressure during competition

Even at this level, golfers must continue practicing and analyzing their performance while making adjustments to maintain and improve their skills.

Factors Common to All Skill Levels

Regardless of skill level, some factors affect golf scores for all golfers. These include:

  1. Weather Conditions: Wind, rain, and temperature can significantly impact a golfer’s performance, influencing their shot accuracy and distance.
  2. Course Difficulty: A course’s layout, length, and hazards can significantly affect scores. More challenging courses will naturally result in higher scores. There are two methods of measuring course difficulty.
  3. Course Rating: indicates the expected score for a scratch golfer on a specific course. A higher course rating indicates a more challenging course. However, the slope rating measures the relative difficulty of a course for bogey golfers compared to scratch golfers. A higher slope rating means a more significant difference in difficulty.
  4. Physical Fitness: Golfers who are physically fit and have good endurance are more likely to maintain consistent performance throughout a round of golf.
  5. Mental Focus: Golf requires a solid mental game, as maintaining concentration and focus throughout a round can be challenging.
  6. Equipment: Using the appropriate clubs, balls, and other equipment can help golfers optimize their performance.
what is a good score in golf

Tips for Improving Your Golf Score

Follow these actionable tips to improve your golf game:

  1. Practice consistently: Spend time at the driving range and putting green to hone your golf swing and short game.
  2. Take lessons from a professional: Learning from a professional golfer can help you identify weaknesses in your game and develop strategies to overcome them.
  3. Use proper equipment: Invest in suitable golf clubs and balls tailored to your skill level and playing style.
  4. Develop course management skills: Study the golf course and plan your shots to maximize your scoring potential.
  5. Maintain physical fitness: Golf requires strength, flexibility, and endurance. A regular fitness routine can help you stay in shape for the game.

Measuring Your Progress: The Handicap System

The handicap system is an essential tool for measuring progress and determining a golfer’s potential ability:

  • What is a handicap?: A golf handicap is a numerical value representing a golfer’s potential playing ability based on past performance.
  • How to calculate your handicap: The handicap is calculated using a golfer’s best scores from recent rounds and factors in course and slope ratings.


What is the average golf score for an amateur golfer?

The national average golf score for amateur golfers is around 100 strokes for 18 holes.

What is considered a bad score in golf?

A bad golf score is relative to a golfer’s skill level. A beginner golfer scoring above 120 might be considered poor, while a professional golfer might consider anything above 80 a lousy score.

How can I break 100, 90, or 80 in golf?

Breaking average scores like 100, 90, or 80 in golf requires consistent practice, taking lessons from a professional, using proper equipment, and developing course management skills. Maintaining physical fitness and focusing on your short game will help you reach these milestones.

How do golf tournaments determine the winner?

In most golf tournaments, the winner is determined by the lowest total score after a predetermined number of rounds (typically four). Sometimes, a playoff may be used if there is a tie after the final round.


Understanding what constitutes a good score in golf depends on several factors, including skill level, course difficulty, personal goals, and even factors such as golf score by age. However, by familiarizing yourself with golf terminology and learning about the handicap system, you can work towards improving your golf game and achieving your desired scores.

Knowing the average golfer’s shot for your skill level can help you set realistic goals and track your progress over time. Consider factors such as age when comparing your scores, as golf scores by age can provide more accurate benchmarks. As you gain experience and refine your skills, your average score will likely decrease, and you will enjoy the challenges and rewards of the game even more.

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Tommy is a confirmed golf fanatic. He's been playing golf for 20 years and just loves everything about the game. His dad used to play golf a lot and watch the PGA and European Tours, so Tommy started watching too. Now he knows a lot about golf and loves to coach people and help them play better.

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