Golf unlike many other sports is an individual game, although many competitions require that golfers pair up to make a team. All 4 players can play another competition called an Alliance, whereby they all represent one team.
The best way to explain this wonderful game is that you do not need an opponent to play. Your opponent is the golf course itself, which has a par rating, and this is your competitor. The golf course’s par rating varies from between 70 and 72 for 18 holes. Professionals will try and beat the par rating, say 72. Each course is divided into 2x 9 holes ie front 9 and the back 9. Each 9 has its par rating say 36 each 9.
Taking a professional golfers scorecard would possibly reflect a score of 35 for the front, and 37 for the back 9, called a matching par of 72. However, this is a professional or low single-figure amateur score. Remember to get to this level of play requires many, many hours of practice daily.
Golf is one of the few sports where you are allocated a handicap, based on your ability to play the game. The average golf handicap for experienced players of all ages would be in the region of 15 to 18. Put simply, if you are an 18 handicap player, then you will be given an extra shot per hole. This means that you get an extra 18 shots to match your competitor, which is the course par rating of 72. i.e., your score of 90 draws the game.
To work out the average score for 9 holes across the total spectrum of golfers and their handicaps would be best explained by dividing players into say 3 categories.
A – Very good amateurs with handicaps ranging from 0 to 9.
B – Good players with handicaps from 10 to 18.
C – Experienced senior golfers or beginners and social golfers from 19 to 36.
It should also be noted that some golf courses are much more difficult than others, and weather plays a big part in the difficulty of each individual course. Golfers who play near the coast will always have wind to contend with during their rounds, and wind affects a golf ball’s flight tremendously.
Let us look at each category. ( Taking 72 strokes as par and every 9 holes as 36)
A – Good amateurs would expect to challenge the score of 36 often, depending on weather conditions and the toughness of the course. In reality, the scratch golfer should match 36 every time he plays. A 7 handicap player should shoot a score of no greater than 40, and the 9 handicap player should shoot 41 regularly. Achieving these scores means they have drawn their match against the golf course.
B – The good players should also draw their games against the golf course, to maintain their handicap rating. A 12 handicap player should score 42, a 15 handicap should shoot 43 or 44, and an 18 handicap 45.
C – The experienced senior golfer playing off a handicap of 24 will need to shoot a score of 48 to draw his match with the course. The social player will be more than happy to shoot a score around 60 on any 9 holes he plays.
Golf being the type of game it is, today everything in the swing is in sync and we achieve our goal and beat or match the course. BUT…If that was our morning score, you can bet your bottom dollar, that in the afternoon, we will shoot over our target by a few shots.
It is worth mentioning that the difference between a 4 handicap and say a 10 handicap, is a few putts on the green. Want to lower your handicap, then put practice time into your short game and especially your putting stroke.
The above scenario indicates what a perfect score would be to match par, but that is the theory! In practice, in every round, we have a meltdown and drop two or even 3 shots on one hole. That destroys our card and making birdies to catch up is a tough ask. For the low single-figure player, 3 birdies in 9 holes would be a tough ask, as for the higher handicapper, it would be a DREAM!
Having said all the above, the class A player would look to score no more than 2 or 3 over par for 9 holes. Class B would look to score 4 or 5 over and Class C, between 52 and 60. Weather conditions and the course difficulty will account for greater variance.
The speed of the greens would also be a contributing factor, as most shots will be lost with the putting. Fast greens with slopes and undulations, take skill to master.
Short Par 3 or 9 hole Golf Courses
Playing on a par 3 golf course, sometimes referred to as “signature courses” creates a different scenario. A par score of 27 will be achieved by good players as the length of each hole is generally around 100 meters and would require a wedge or 9 iron at most.
The mid to intermediate golfer with say an 18 handicap would also expect to drop no more than 3 shots. For the higher handicaps, a score of around 38 to 40 would be acceptable.
Most golfers aim to improve their game in every round they play. When everything falls into place with the swing and the putting, this is indeed possible and is what brings us all back for the next round with great expectations and enthusiasm.
Unfortunately, to repeat every good round is tough, and practice will help towards achieving this target. Never lose sight of the fact that golf is undoubtedly one of the most difficult games to master.
Keep your expectations in check!
- What Is A Good, Bad, and An Average Golf Score?
- How to Keep A Golf Score – A Few Basics To Get You Going
Nick Lomas is the founder of GolfSpan, an avid golfer, not quite a pro but has over 15-years of experience playing and coaching golfers from all over the world. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience then it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game.