What Is a Bogey in Golf? A Detailed Explanation

Golfer putting on the green as the sun sets behind him.

If you are a casual or avid golfer, the term bogey is not new to you. However, new and beginner golfers should not fear the word bogey.

So, what is a bogey in golf?

A bogey is a score of one stroke over par on a hole. An example would be a score of 6 on a par 5 hole. To an average golfer a bogey is good. According to the National Golf Foundation, the average 18-hole score for a round of golf is about 100, almost 10 strokes more than a round with 18 bogeys.

The purpose of golf is to get the ball into the hole in the fewest amount of strokes. Just because a bogey is a score one stroke higher than par doesn’t mean it is inherently a bad score. The average golfer strives to make a bogey or better on each hole.

What Is a Bogey Golfer?

A bogey golfer is a golfer that averages near a score of bogey on every hole. If par for an 18-hole golf course is 72 then a bogey golfer’s score will average around 90. Successful bogey golfers adapt their strategy when playing any golf course.

For instance, a bogey golfer’s strategy on a par 4 would be to get the ball on the green in three strokes and into the hole in two putts for a score of 5.

Similarly, on a par 3, the goal would be two shots to get on the putting green and two additional putts into the hole for a score of 4.

Is a Bogey Good or Bad in Golf?

Photo of golfers walking from the tee box toward their golf balls.

A bogey can be both a good score or a bad score depending on how the golfer got the score. Let’s look at an example of how two golfers got the same score but in completely different ways.

Jim and Bob are playing golf together and both players score a 5 on the par 4 first hole. Jim hits his first shot 250 yds down the middle of the fairway and his second shot lands on the green 10’ from the hole. Bob meanwhile, hooks his first shot left into the trees 150 yds away.

He then hits out sideways across the fairway into a bunker. His third shot lands 75 yds short of the green but in heavy rough. Bob’s fourth shot is hacked out of thick grass and comes to rest on the green, 60’ away from the hole.

Since Bob is the furthest away from the hole he putts first. Bob’s putt rolls gracefully across the green hugging every turn, gently falling into the hole for a bogey 5.

Miffed at how Bob was able to make the putt, Jim gets distracted and hits his birdie putt six feet past the hole. Frustrated that he hit the ball too hard, Jim left his second putt 1” short, leaving only a tap in for a score of bogey 5.

In this example, both players made the same score but in completely different ways. After four not very good shots, Bob was able to make one really good shot that secured his score.

Meanwhile, Jim made two great shots to get on the green but his just one really bad putt was the catalyst for his bogey.

What Is a Scratch Golfer?

A scratch golfer is a golfer that averages close to a score of par on each hole. Shooting par is very hard and requires a lot of skill, patience, and dedication to constantly refining one’s golf swing and strategy for playing the game.

Most professional golfers are scratch golfers but not all of them are professionals.

What Is a Bogey Golfer’s Handicap?

For course rating purposes, a handicap for a bogey golfer lies somewhere between 17.5 – 22.4 for men and 21.5 to 26.4 for women.

The handicap system in golf is designed to create equity between two players of differing skill levels by assigning them a number based on a mathematical formula composed of the golfer’s most recent scores.

A golfer’s handicap is an indication of how many strokes over par they will average per round, however, a golfer will not shoot their handicap every time.

Additionally, handicaps are adjusted depending on the golf course’s rating, or the measure of its difficulty.

The difficulty of golf courses is determined by a golf course rating team whose purpose is to determine the effective playing length of the course using measurements collected on each hole.

Each measurement is adjusted to account for roll, wind, elevation changes, altitude, dog-legs, and forced lay-ups.

Using table values, adjustments, and formulas, the golf rating team calculates a golf course’s course rating (evaluation of the overall difficulty of the golf course under normal conditions for a scratch golfer) and slope rating (an indication of the relative difficulty of a course for players that are not scratch golfers).

Measurements and factors considered by a golf course rating team include:

  • Hole length and elevation changes.
  • Size, speed, and undulation of the putting green.
  • Width of the fairway at certain landing zones.
  • Size, depth, and number of bunkers on a hole.
  • The carry distance from the tee box to the fairway.
  • The presence of water hazards and out of bounds.
  • The psychology of the golfer or visual or mental intimidation.

What is a Score Higher than a Bogey Called?

To review, a bogey is a score of one stroke over par for a golf hole. A score that is two strokes over par is called a double bogey and a score three strokes over par is a triple bogey.

Additional over par scores include the quadruple bogey and the quintuple bogey. Below is a chart that correlates scores with their names for each type of hole par.

Table showing golf scoring terms in relation to Par 3, Par 4, and Par 5 holes.

The Colors of Golf Scores

When scores are recorded or displayed on a scoreboard at a golf tournament they are shown in different colors to help fans better recognize scores in relation to par.

Similarly, in the business world, a company that is said to be ‘in the red’ is considered to have negative earnings while a company ‘in the black’ makes positive earnings.

Relating it to golf, a red number means the score is below or negative of par while a black number means the score is above or positive of par. A green number reflects a score of even par.

Different Ways to Score Golf

Most golfers record just the number of their score on the scorecard but there are additional symbols that are used to signify whether someone had a birdie or a double bogey, for example.

  • Eagle – Double circle or a single shaded circle around the number.
  • Birdie – Single circle around the score.
  • Par – No symbols used, just the number is recorded.
  • Bogey – Single square around the score.
  • Double Bogey – Double square around the score.
  • Triple Bogey or Worse – Triple square or single shaded square around the score.

What Is Par in Golf?

Golf ball about to fall into one of the holes on a golf course.

Broadly, the term par means the number of strokes for any given hole, or for a collection of holes (9 or 18) it should take a golfer to get the ball into the hole from start to finish. Each individual golf hole is a Par 3, Par 4, or Par 5.

Par 6 holes do exist but they are very rare and there are no golf holes with a par less than three. Collectively, the total of every hole’s par on a course is the 9 or 18-hole score that each golfer measures their score against.

Most 18-hole golf courses have a par of 72 and feature a mix of Par 3, Par 4, and Par 5 holes to achieve that total.

The most common mix is four Par 3’s (12 strokes), ten Par 4’s (40 strokes) and four Par 5’s (20 strokes) equaling 72 total strokes for par.

What Is the Biggest Difference Between Par 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s?

The biggest difference between the type of par for any hole is the length. Par 3 holes vary in length from 75-250 yds. Par 4 holes vary in length from 200-500 yds and par 5 holes vary between 400-650 yds.

To this extent, the game of golf makes basic assumptions about the strategy a golfer will employ to record a score of par. For instance, a par 3 assumes the golfer will hit their first shot onto the green and putt the ball into the hole with two additional strokes.

Par 4’s assume the golfer will hit the ball onto the putting green in two shots and putt the ball into the hole in two additional strokes. Lastly, par 5’s assume the golfer will hit the ball onto the green in three shots and require two additional putts to get the ball into the hole.

As mentioned earlier, the strategy for a bogey golfer would simply be to allot an additional stroke to get the ball onto the green while still getting the ball into the hole with two putts.

For example, a bogey golfer on a par 5 will plan to take four shots to get the ball onto the green and two putts to hole the ball.

Ways to Improve Golf Game

Beginning golfers encounter steep learning curves when they first begin as improvement comes quickly the more you learn. It is much easier for a 20 handicap golfer to become a 10 handicap golfer than an 8 handicap golfer becoming a 4.

So, what are some ways bogey golfers can shed strokes and lower their golf scores?

The simple answer is the more you practice the better your golf game will become. However, bad or unconstructive practice can do more harm than good. Here are several ways bogey and recreational golfers can lower their scores:

  • Practice with a Purpose – Too often golfers go to the driving range to work on one thing only to discover three other things that need help. Hours later they realize they are no better off than before they started. Pick one thing to work on (i.e. the takeaway, shoulder rotation, or weight transfer) and limit the amount of time spent doing it to 15- 20 mins. Then move on to work on another aspect of your game like chipping or putting for another 15-20 minutes then repeat the rotation. This will keep your mind and body fresh making your practice more productive.
  • Make More Short Putts – This one is obvious but there is a reason why PGA Tour golfers spend so much time on the putting green. For bogey golfers to get better, they need to make more putts inside 10’. Start by making 20 3’ putts in a row then make 50, then make 20 4’ putts, and then another 50. Focus on keeping your head still and let your ears listen for the ball to go in the hole rather than your eyes following the ball as it rolls.
  • Get Fit for Your Next Set of Clubs – If you are in the market for a new set of clubs because you know new equipment will take your game to the next level, do yourself a favor and consult a club fitting professional. It may require a few extra dollars to get something custom made but it will be custom made specifically for you.
  • Let It Go – Every golfer has made bad shots and recorded bad scores. Frustration and anger leads to tension and tension is one of the biggest killers of the golf swing. Focused breathing, visualization, and general awareness of your surroundings will help clear your mind and focus you on the task at hand – hitting the golf ball to your target.
  • Establish a Target – Pick a target to aim at on every swing, even when practicing on the driving range. Brains operate like computers in the way they process information. Be specific with your commands, concentrate on your singular target and focus on making the best swing you can.
  • Convert More Up and Downs – Also known as scrambling, the term ‘up and down’ refers to a golfer who misses the green on their approach shot and must get up onto the green and down into the hole to save par. To get better at this skill, go to the practice chipping green at the driving range. Use only one ball and practice chipping the ball onto the green as close to the target hole as possible and make the putt with one stroke. Do it ten times to establish a benchmark scrambling percentage then continue to practice and track your improvement over time. For perspective, the PGA Tour scrambling average for the 2020 season was 58.48%. A bogey golfer that can consistently convert 30-50% of their up and downs in practice will see significant improvement when they play for real on the course.


What Is an Ostrich in Golf?

An ostrich in golf is another term for shooting 5 under par. To achieve this a golfer needs to hit a hole in one on a par 6 or to hole the ball in two strokes on a par 7. Ostriches are incredibly rare since most golfers will never play a par 6 or par 7 hole.

What Is Par in Golf for 18 Holes?

An 18-hole course will usually have a par of 72. This works out to an average of four strokes per golf hole. The typical course will have four Par 3s, ten Par 4s, and four Par 5s, which totals 72 strokes.

What Is the Lowest Golf Score Ever?

The lowest score ever shot during a round of golf is 55 (-16) by Rhein Gibson and Alexander Hughes. Gibson shot 55 in 2012 at River Oaks Golf Club in Edmond, Oklahoma and Hughes shot 55 in 2020 at South Lakes Golf Course in Jenks, Oklahoma.

Related Articles

Steven G.

My name is Steven and I love everything sports! I created this website to share my passion with all of you. Enjoy!

Recent Posts