If par is irrelevant...


If you agree that “par is irrelevant,” would you be comfortable playing a round where the scorecard only lists the hole number, yardage and handicap, and excludes anything that lists what par for the hole/round is?


Yes. I do this anyway. I’m a 7 index. My goal is to break 80 every time out at my home club. I don’t care how I get there. I just try to keep 6+ off the card at all costs and limit the number of 5s on there, no matter the par of the hole. If I accomplish those goals, I’ll usually break 80. That it is a par 72 doesn’t really matter, because I sniff a number that low very rarely.


This is my exact thought. To me, par is irrelevant because I’m not skilled enough for it to be relevant.

But I guess in a way, we set our own “par” to 80 (or 85/100/etc), go out and shoot 78, and then we’re in with Big Marketing.

(Also, “Choose Your Own Par” = next campaign to get the Charmin-soft millennials to flock to the game.)


I am unsure that I will ever be able to do this, even if a course comes out with no par. My mind will naturally make assumptions as to what I believe the par to be or what I think I should make on the hole. I will never ever be satisfied with a 5 from a driver, mid to short iron hole.

I wish this were not the case. Just don’t think I could ever be that “free” with my mind. Now watching professionals play without par I can get down with.


I’m on team #parlivesmatter, but this isn’t a great attack on the “par is irrelevant” movement. I think you’d be able to figure out which ones were the par 3s, 4s, and 5s even if they weren’t listed on the card.

Every course you play is gonna be a 70, 71, or 72 par. A 79 on a par 70 course is going to feel better than an 80 on a par 72 course.


Par Matters because Hole Rankings Matter because Gambling Is All That Matters.

Think about that and get back to me.


Par is irrelevant as the game is played outside, where the elements (and course set up) have a drastic effect on what “par” really is, just see Thursday at the US open.

At my home club our 8th hole is a “par 5” where I often hit a 6 of 7 iron in as the trade wind is directly downwind. The 9th is a long “Par 4” but plays into the wind and on the days I hit 7 iron into 8, I can guarantee I will hit 4 iron or more into 9. Which hole is truly the Par “4” and which the par “5” or are they both par “4’s?”


The “Par is irrelevant” take is like listening to a couple of 19 year old kids smoke weed and talk about what they learned in Intro to Philosophy. Par is impossible to remove from any equation where you are comparing scores or numbers. No matter what you are going to gravitate to comparing what person did in relation to the average, median, etc. It also drives everything fun about golf. Competing with each other, handicaps, betting and games, etc

It comes off trying to sound WAY too cool and smart just for the sake of doing so. You ain’t Neil Degrasse Tyson.


100% agree here!

In my rotating group of guys the low handicap in the group decides which holes he gives up the strokes on. Game changing philosophy.


Hole handicap rankings aren’t based off “par” though?


First off, beautiful metaphor.

I do want to unpack not being able to remove par when comparing score. My good buddy who is a damn good player, but not involved in the refuge or on golf twitter is a big time advocate for par when discussing historical success of a player - we have gotten heated over this many times. What are some thoughts of how pro’s now play courses from further distances and a lower course Par? We hardly ever see Par 72’s anymore on tour. When comparing a -12 on a par 72 and a -12 on the same course that is now playing on tour as a par 70, is the theory of par hurting this comparison?


With increasing frequency they actually are.
Most courses have the initial “longest is toughest” handicaps but a lot of clubs are taking group scores and resetting. Some of the bravest just have a committee roll out and re-handicap.


I dont think so. Every other major sport takes historical stats with a grain of salt and can talk about them without it being a conversation stopper. The NBA, NFL, MLB all still reference old stats even though schedules, rules, and playing field change over time. MLB tracks stat’s but literally every team’s field is a different shape. The NBA tracks stats historically but they added a 3 point line as the sport exploded.



I’m not sure that you have any actual support for what you just said other than some anecdotal evidence, but it still doesn’t change the fact that the handicap ranking on a particular hole isn’t tied to the par. The par 5s aren’t defaulted to the 1s and 2s. The par 3s aren’t defaulted to the 17 and 18s.

So yea, #parlivesmatter, but individual hole ratings have nothing to do with it.


If par is irrelevant then golf is just bowling outdoors.



Pretty widely known, but here’s some evidence for resetting

If we’re among gamblers here I’ll go on.


Par is pretty obviously a good scorekeeping tool that is invaluable to understanding a stroke play tournament. Without par, you’d essentially be trying to calculate par in your head anyway.

[OK Fleetwood is in the clubhouse with 282. Brooks has 243 strokes (or whatever) with 9 holes to play. He needs to play the last 9 holes in 38 strokes to win. That’s 4.2222 strokes per hole. He has 3780 yards of holes left. That’s about 100 yards per stroke. Can he do it? I have no idea]

If you want to make the argument that people overrate par when judging a tournament or a performance, I could see that. But anyone with half a brain who watches sports knows that context applies to every number. We know if a football game is being played in a blizzard that the score will be lower. We know that NBA teams shoot way more 3’s than they used to and understand that it impacts certain individual stats (like FG%) and the way we interpret games.

Everyone gets that you could call a 530 yard hole a par 4 and you’d have more bogeys or a par 5 and you’ll have more birdies. It’s not that smart of a take.

If you’re talking about recreational course, I see the point more. I can agree that us hackers can have fun playing a par 65 course and there’s no need for everything to be par 70-72.


I agree with you that the USGA can and does re-rank holes. This has nothing to do with your original, incorrect, point.

I disagree with you that the rankings are connected to the par of the hole. We can’t debate that. Its just a fact. Par is irrelevant when it comes to hole rankings (admittedly, there is some correlation, but its not a rule). Go look at a couple scorecards. Or do some extra research if that doesn’t satisfy you.


Do you gamble or not? I’m not diving into this if you don’t.