If par is irrelevant...


Yes. We play off the lowest handicapped player. The low man plays to a 0, and everyone gets pops from there. The #1 rated hole at our course is a par 4, so everyone getting strokes gets 1 on that hole, and so on. For the sake of argument, I’m a 0, and my three buddies are all 1s. They all get one stroke on the #1 hole, which is a par 4.

If you give pops based on par 5s first, well thats just weird, and I don’t know what game you are playing.

Wolf, 9 game, nassau, fourball, 6s, etc etc, you all get 1 starting on the #1 handicapped hole, par be damned.


I’m a Nassau/skins/Nines guy.

Holes are largely ranked/handicapped off distance which is filled with flaws. When a committee comes together and gathers hundreds of scorecards from players of varying ability they will keep track of how each group of players scores against par. So you see, par becomes the critical and very relevant metric when gambling is concerned.


This is incorrect. These committees don’t look at par. This is a common misconception, but one that I don’t see you changing your mind about. However, if you are open to it, here are some helpful articles from the first page of a quick google search.

If you don’t trust those, just think about this: Why are par 5s typically ranked as some of the hardest holes, and the par 3s among the easiest? Anyone who watches/plays golf knows that par 3s are typically the hardest holes to birdie and par, while most birdies are made on par 5s. If what you say is true, in that the holes are ranked based on how players performed against par, then it would make no sense why a par 5 is almost always ranked as a “harder” hole than a par 3.

Notably, the USGA link that you cited above, states the following: “The next step is to compare the average score per hole for group A against the average score per hole of group B.” - The USGA says nothing about par, but total strokes. So in conclusion, there should be no dispute that when it comes to handicap rankings… par is irrelevant.



This is all correct. Let me sum it up in a couple sentences.

The No. 1 handicap hole is not the “hardest” hole. It is the hole where the score dispersion between a scratch golfer and a high handicapper is greatest.

If scratch golfers average 4.4 on a hole and high handicappers average 5.6 (1.2 difference), compared to a hole where a scratch golfers average 4.4 and high handicappers average 5.8 (1.4 difference), then the second one would be closer to the #1 handicap hole. Par is completely irrelevant. One could be a par 4 and one could be a par 5, or both could be par 5s. It doesn’t matter. The average score compared to average score are the only numbers needed.


Small world. When I was working at a club- and was deeply involved in the re-rank of holes- we worked closely with Frances who penned the first article some nine years ago. We absolutely took par into consideration. That’s how we ended up with the hand shake par 5 (500 yards) at at 13 handicap and the beast par 3 (185) at 7. So from a year’s worth of chasing down members for scorecards, of bandaging paper cuts and calling bullshit on member after member’s scorecards, let me tell you from experience that par is absolutely used as a factor in determining handicaps.


Well… I just think you guys did it wrong :joy:



As someone who just rerated our course last year, par is NOT a factor.

The only time you change the handicaps that are given to you out of the math of it all is the USGA suggests not having the #1 and #3 or #2 and #4 as the last two holes on the front or back. As a result, our 8th hole became #5 handicap so 9 could stay #1 handicap.

The reasoning is they want matches to be able to use strokes before you lose by 2&1 on 8 or 17.


I’ll add another nugget to this debate:

Golf matches, in golf’s infancy, were always match play (or fourball or foursomes). There was no need to keep track of “score.” You just counted how many strokes were taken on each hole and you’d either win, tie, or lose the hole. The only “score” you kept track of was who was “up” in the match and by how much.

Par was nonexistent in the beginning.

Fun Fact: Bogey was invented before par was.


Well…If the choice is either:
A.) Follow the thoughts and direction of a committee full of highly intelligent people who are passionate about their club. Or,
B.) Follow the USGA recommendation

I’m going with “A” all day. The fact that 99% of clubs choose “B” is part of why the game is in a somewhat sorry state.

And the fact that the USGA wants strokes to fall in certain places so matches might finish 2&1 when not many people play match play shows (again) how out of touch they are.


A 10-15 handicapper doesn’t have too much trouble getting a 3 or a 4 on a par 3. I can tell you from first hand experience that you are absolutely boned when giving out pops on a par 3. Your system, which resulted in a par 3 being the 7th ranked hole, is pretty flawed.


You severely underestimate how much match play and alternate shot is played then.

Fun Fact: You are required to play alternate shot most days if you ever play Muirfield


Good stuff. Didn’t know that.
So Bogey begat Par?
Did Par beget Birdie? And did Birdie kill his brother Eagle?



Long story short:

When stroke play competitions became more popular in the UK, they created the “Bogey” system to help compare players on the course. As the game got easier for a variety of reasons, it happened to coincide with the move of the game to America in the late 1800’s. Americans thought bogey was too easy to achieve and created the “Par” system. Bogey was then called a score of one stroke more than par.


Welp there it is. Perhaps accidentally, your post tied this all back to the “is par relevant” debate.

Its official - par is not relevant.

Bogey is relevant.

Close this thread.


Typical American move on our part.
We can’t play cricket so we invent baseball. Rugby? Too hard- we’ll invent football. Soccer? We’ll just deport anyone who could possibly help us win so that’s blown for another fifty years.


Yeah…Moment of Silence. Back to work.



I’m going to take one more shot in the debate of par is relevant for hole handicapping… which it’s not.

I believe it was post 16 in this thread that you had a link for resetting hole handicaps.

Here is a direct quote from that link.

"When starting out, the Handicap Committee should remember a few basic guidelines:

  1. Allocate strokes based on the tees played most often by a majority of the members.

  2. Allocate the odd-numbered strokes to the front-nine holes and the even-numbered strokes to the back-nine holes—unless the back-nine is decidedly more difficult than the front—you can reverse the allocation.

  3. Avoid allocating the low numbered holes to the beginning or end of the nine holes"

which is exactly what I said. The only time we had to fudge the hole handicaps was because of point number 3.


There is only ONE situation where I found par being relevant and useful:

-It’s a tool that is useful for comparing the scores of a player on one part of the course to another.

Even that one situation can be messed up. When watching the tournaments in Palm Springs or the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the leaderboard showing scores in relation to par is kind of pointless cause the players are playing different courses. It isn’t even entirely useful then. It’s ONLY useful in comparing the scores of a player on one part of ONE course to another.

And… that’s it. Par can be or is irrelevant in every other case I have ever seen.


One day we’ll all be at the NLU Invitational at Streamsong and when we start talking about where shots fall and how many. I’ll remember this conversation.


#liveunderohneverminditisirrelevant doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.