What Is A Good, Bad, and An Average Golf Score?

One area that confused me in the early days of my golfing journey revolved around whether I was shooting a good average score or not. I thought if I did not break 80, I had played badly. It took me a while to understand that a good or bad round was only related to your handicap.

While many in the online golfing community will tell you that a specific score is good, bad, or average, applying a one-size-fits-all approach is difficult.

An average golf score is net even par to +3 for the round. Anything higher than that would be considered a bad score. For example, if you are playing off a 15 handicap and you card a 88 on a Par 72 course, that would be considered an average score.

In this post, we are asking what are good, bad, and average scores in golf. Many players wonder what does the average golfer shoot, and we will answer that too. It will help you know what scores to aim for and to enjoy a successful round based on your handicap.

Golf Scoring Terminology

Term Meaning
Hole-In-One You get the ball into the hole in one shot off the tee box. These are most common on Par 3’s, although I have witnessed a couple on short Par 4’s.
Albatross Scoring -3 below par of that hole. It is rare to witness, but it does happen on short Par 4’s and 5’s.
Eagle Scoring -2 below par of that hole. Eagles are most common on Par 5’s, but you may see longer hitters achieve this on shorter Par 4’s.
Birdie Scoring -1 below par of that hole. For the average golfer, it makes your round to card one birdie.
Par When you score the same as the par for that hole.
Bogey Scoring +1 above par of that hole
Double Bogey (Buzzard) Scoring +2 above par of that hole
Triple Bogey (Grouse) Scoring +3 above par of that hole. If you are playing Stableford, this is the highest score any golfer can make before picking up and ringing the hole
Quintuple Bogey (Turkey) Scoring +4 above par of that hole. You can achieve scores like this and more if you are playing stroke play.
Quintuple Bogey Scoring +5 above par of that hole.
Sextuple Bogey Scoring +6 above par of that hole.
Septuple Bogey Scoring +7 above par of that hole.
Octuple Bogey Scoring +8 above par of that hole. Hopefully, you will never be in danger of a score like this, unless you play the 17th at TPC Sawgrass.

How Does the Handicap System Work in Golf?

The beauty of golf is that we have handicaps, which help to even up the game. If you are a 20 handicap, playing on a Par 72, and you shoot 92, you would have effectively shot even par.

Because you are a 20 handicap, and you shot 20 over for the round, you played to your handicap.

Your handicap also works in your favor during Stableford rounds. As higher handicaps, you will receive more points for making par or birdies than lower handicappers.

For example, if you are a 13 handicapper playing against a 6 and both par the stroke 13, you will receive three points. However, your opponent will only receive two points.

The reality is that the handicap system enables us to discover where we fit in on the golfing spectrum. If a 6 handicap shoots 85 on a Par 72, they would have had a bad day on the course.

Conversely, if a 20 handicapper cards an 85, they would be -7 for the round and be over the moon.

Read more: Would a better set of golf clubs help you lower your handicap? Check out the current prices on the top rated golf club sets.

Stableford Scoring

Every hole on the course is assigned a stroke rating from 1 to 18. This number determines the difficulty of each hole on the course. By design, stroke 18 is the easiest hole on the course. While stroke 1 is the most difficult.

These holes also even out the scoring playing field for golfers based on their handicap. If you are a scratch golfer, you will not stroke any holes on the course, and as a result, you will receive two points for a par, three for a birdie, and one for a bogey.

Players with a 54 handicap will triple-stroke every hole on the course. This means they get five points for a par, four for a bogey, three for a double bogey, and two for a triple bogey.

If you are playing off a handicap lower than 18, you will only stroke the same quantity of holes as your handicap. For example, if you are playing off a 16, you will stroke every hole with a rating of 1 – 16. However, you won’t stroke on the course’s 17th and 18th most difficult holes.

To make the stroke system easier to understand, I have compiled a list below to explain how many points you get for each score based on your handicap.

Albatross Eagle Birdie Par Bogey Double Bogey Triple Bogey Quadruple Bogey
Player Does Not Stroke 5 4 3 2 1 0 0 0
Player Strokes 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 0
Player Double Strokes 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
Player Triple Strokes 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

What Is A Good, Bad, and Average Golf Score?

Couple Sitting In Buggy Playing Round On Golf And Checking Score Card Together

While many in the online golfing community will tell you that a specific score is good, bad, or average. It’s difficult to apply a one size fits all approach.

Good, bad, and average golf scores are always relevant to the handicap that you are playing off.

What Is A Good Golf Score?

Over 18 Holes

A typical PGA score for 18 holes this season stands at 71.25. Considering that most courses are Par 72, the average player shoots between even par and -1 for the round. Therefore, a good golf score is anywhere from -2 to -5. Anything lower than that is exceptional.

Now, we would be demoralized if we look at those scores as amateur or beginner golfers. That is where your handicap comes into play. Once you have tallied up your scores at the end of the round. You will determine your Gross total.

Depending on your handicap and round, this figure could be eye-watering, but there is one thing left to do. Subtract your handicap from the Gross, giving you your Net score. That is the important one. Because it enables you to see how you performed relative to the total par of the course.

When wondering what is a good score in golf for 18 holes, if you shoot anywhere from -2 to -4, your handicap would be considered a good golf score. For example, if you play off of an 18 handicap and you shoot 86 on a Par 72 course, that would mean you carded a Net score of 68, which is good.

Over 9 Holes

It is typically one or two under par if you want to know what is considered a good golf score over nine holes. If the total par for the nine is 36, a good net score will be 34 or 35. For example, if your handicap is 22, you divide that by two and get 11. Therefore if you card a 45 over nine holes, you subtract 11 and are left with 34. It means you shot a net score of -2 for the nine and a good golf score.

What Is A Bad Golf Score?

Over 18 Holes

If you wonder what’s a bad score in golf, in theory, any net score over par may be considered bad. However, a +1 to +3 day on the course is not too bad.

Professional golfers can often shoot a few over par on day one and still come back to be in contention going into Sunday. Therefore an undesirable golf game score is in the range of a net of +4 or more for 18 holes.

An example would be a 13 handicapper who shoots 92 on a Par 72. Once we have subtracted their handicap from the Gross, a net score of 79 remains. That is +7 the total par for the course. As a result, this would be a bad golf score.

Over 9 Holes

As I explained earlier, you need to divide your actual handicap by two to determine what you should be scoring over nine holes. If you are an 18 handicapper, you must shoot a maximum of +9 to be net even for the nine. If the total par for the nine is 36, and you shoot 50, your net will be 41, which is +6, and is considered a bad golf score.

Since scores that are higher than +4 in a round of 18 are bad. It is safe to say that any net score of more than +2 in 9 holes is no good.

What Is An Average Golf Score?

Over 18 Holes

In statistics released by the National Golf Foundation, the average golfer carded 100 strokes in 18 holes. Now, this may be the average amount of strokes for all golfers. But, it does not reflect average scores for all golfers.

What I mean by that is, that if a 10-handicap golfer shot 100, they would have endured the worst day on a golf course. Conversely, a 30 handicapper would be thrilled with 100, as it would leave them a couple of strokes under par.

81% of females and 25% of all male golfers play off handicaps higher than 19. It means that a large percentage of amateur golfers post scores around the 100 regions, which is why the average score in golf is on the high side.

When wondering what is the average golf score, based on your net, if it is only +1 that is considered to be an average golf score.

Over 9 Holes

An average 9 hole golf score with net in mind is anywhere between even par and +1. If you are a ten handicap, you should be looking to shoot no higher than 42 over nine holes. Once you subtract 5 from 42, you are left with 37. On nine holes with a par total of 36, that would leave you +1.

Any scores higher than that start to venture into the realm of bad golf scores.

Read more: If you’re on a budget and considering a new golf club set, check out the best golf club sets under $500.

What Should I Be Scoring Over 18 Holes?

As I mentioned earlier, there is no one size fits all approach to golf game scores. You are competing against yourself, and your handicap will determine whether you are posting good, bad, or average golf scores. Lots of factors affect your average golf handicap and how good it can be including age.

If we take an average golf score, the gross total will differ significantly depending on the player. Therefore I have provided a rough guideline to give you an idea of the gross total scores you should be carding for average scores. For example, for a 20 handicap, the average score would be around 92.

Handicap Average Gross Score (Par 72)
0 – 5 72 – 77
6 – 10 78 – 82
11 – 15 83 – 87
16 – 20 88 – 92
21 – 30 93 – 102
31 – 40 103 – 112
41 – 54 113 – 126

Remember, if you have played to your handicap, your net score should be 72, and you can walk away from the course proud of your performance.

Average Golf Scores by Age

Age (years) Average golf score
7 – 12  150 – 180
12 – 20   90 – 180
20 – 30    80 – 90
30 – 70   91 – 94

3 Simple Tips to Improve Your Average Golf Score

You know most of the rest of it, but sometimes some simple reminders are all you need to get your score down if you have fallen into bad habits.

Invest in a New Set of Clubs

One of the simplest ways to lower your score is by upgrading your irons. Over time, your irons will wear out so it may be time to work out how old they are and if they are several years old, it could be worth changing them up. Check out the prices on the most forgiving irons this year.

Practice, Practice, Practice

We know it’s obvious, but you are much more likely to get your score down if you are down at the driving range once per week working on your faults rather than struggling with the same issues out on the course. If time permits, keep practicing and working on those shots that keep adding an extra few numbers to your round to get some quick wins in the bank.

Have a Reliable Warm-up

Again, something obvious, but many golfers either go straight into the round or spend years practicing beforehand. Count on a warmup involving dynamic movements and then some shots, including putts and chips.

Final Thoughts on the Average Golf Score

I hope this post clarified the issue of different golf scorers and what an average golf score is.

As you can see, there is no such thing as a specific good or bad score.

What determines how well you played is your net score compared to the course{s total par. No matter what your handicap is, a net score that is even par up to +2 is an average golf score. Never compare your scores to others. Focus on yourself and your game, and compete against your handicap.

If you found these tips helpful, I invite you to expand your golf scoring knowledge by learning from our article “How To Keep A Golf Score.”


Is 85 a Good Score in Golf?

Whether a golf score is good or not is handicap dependent, but a golfer with an average handicap index of 13 would be looking to hit an average gross score of 85 on a par 72. They could be pleased with their days workout on the course.

What Is the Average Score for 18 Holes of Golf?

An average score is very much handicap driven. The average golf score is net even par to +3 for the round. For example, if you play off a 15 handicap and you hit 88 on a par 72 course, that would be considered an average score across 18 holes.

What Is Tiger Woods Average Golf Score?

At the PGA Tour in 2022, Tiger Woods’ average golf score was 73.35. Back in 2000, Woods hit an average score of 68.17, which was the lowest in PGA Tour history beating the previous record of 68.33.

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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.

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