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 what was a good 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.

In this post, we are asking what is a good, bad, and average golf score? 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 the par of that hole. It is rare to witness but it does happen on short Par 4’s and 5’s.
Eagle Scoring -2 the 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 the par of that hole. For most average golfers, it makes your round to card one birdie.
Par When you score the same as the par for that hole.
Bogey Scoring +1 the par of that hole
Double Bogey (Buzzard) Scoring +2 the par of that hole
Triple Bogey (Grouse) Scoring +3 the par of that hole. If you are playing Stableford, this is the highest score any golfer will be able to make before picking up and ringing the hole.
Quintuple Bogey (Turkey) Scoring +4 the par of that hole. You can achieve scores like this and more if you are playing stroke play.
Quintuple Bogey Scoring +5 the par of that hole.
Sextuple Bogey Scoring +6 the par of that hole.
Septuple Bogey Scoring +7 the par of that hole.
Octuple Bogey Scoring +8 the par of that hole. Hopefully, you will never be in danger of a score like this, unless you play the 17th at TPC Sawgrass.

The Handicap System?

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 you both par the stroke 13, you will receive three points. However, your opponent will only receive two points.

The reality is, 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.

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 that 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 17th and 18th most difficult holes on the course.

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

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

The scoring average on the PGA Tour for 18 holes this season stands at 71.46. Considering that most courses are Par 72, the average player shoots between even par and -1 for the round. Therefore, a good score is anywhere from -2 to -5. Anything lower than that is exceptional.

Now, if we look at those scores as amateurs, we would be demoralized. 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 your round, this figure could be eye-watering, but there is one thing left to do. Subtract your handicap from the Gross, which will give 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.

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

A good score over nine holes is typically one or two under par. 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 that you shot a net score of -2 for the nine and shot a good golf score.

What Is A Bad Golf Score?

Over 18 Holes

In theory, any Net score that is over par may be considered a bad golf score. However, a +1 to +3 day on the course is not too bad.

Pros 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 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 will need to 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 considered to be 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 an average score for all golfers.

What I mean by that is, 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 amateurs are posting scores around the 100 region, which is why the average score is on the high side.

With that in mind, let us determine what an average score is based on your net. An average score is net even par to +3 for the round. Anything higher than that would be considered a bad score. As an 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.

After subtracting your 15 handicap from the 88 you shot, it gives you a net total of 73. That is only +1 and considered to be an average golf score.

Over 9 Holes

An average net score over nine holes 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.

What Should I Be Scoring Over 18 Holes?

As I mentioned earlier, there is no one size fits all approach to golf scores. You are competing against yourself, and your handicap will determine whether you are posting good, bad, or average golf scores.

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 an average score.

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.

Final Thoughts

I hope that this post brought some clarity to you over the issue of good, bad, and average golf scores. 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.”

Related Articles

You might also like these