What is a Bogey in Golf means?

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Bogey in golf

What is a Bogey in golf? The mention of a bogey strikes fears in the minds of most golfers: high handicappers to the pros. But it is inevitable in every game. In fact, the golfers who played a bogey-free game went down the annals of history as legends.

Luke Donald’s 100-hole streak without bogeys in 2012, Diana Luna’s bogey-free win in Ladies European Tour 2011, Jesper Parnevik’s bogey-betrayal in 1995 Volvo Scandinavian Masters and Lee Trevino’s major win in the 1974 Greater New Orleans classic without bogeys.

What makes the bogey phenomenon in such a big deal? How did it come to be? And how to convert a bogey to a par? Let’s find out the answers.

What is a one, double and triple bogey in golf?

Bogey is a term in golf scoring which means the golfers scored 1 over the par on a particular hole.

To put you back on a refresher course, par is an ideal score that an expert golfer makes on the hole. So bogey is 1-over that score.

For example:

  • On a par-3 hole, a bogey is a score of 4.
  • On a par-5, a bogey is a score of 6.

The definition of a bogey golfer follows. A bogey golfer is someone who hits 1-over par on average on every hole. So on a par-70 golf course like Merion, a bogey golfer’s average score would be 88. We explain par in more detail in our post about what does par means in golf.

There are golf scoring terms which define your score compared to the par:

  • Double bogey: 2-over par
  • Triple bogey: 3-over par
  • Birdie: 1-under par, i.e. scoring 4 on a par-5 hole
  • Eagle: 2-under par, i.e. scoring 3 on a par-5 hole
  • Albatross: A 3-under par

The par-rating of holes is determined by a rating team of USGA-certified professionals who visit the golf courses personally. They thoroughly check and play the golf course to mark the par-rating. To keep up with the golf scores, we delved deep into golf scoring and understood the basics.

The History of Bogey in Golf

Believe it or not, bogey used to be the more important term in golf in the UK back in the 1800s. It comes from popular culture reference to the Bogey Man mentioned in a British Song in the late 19th century. This was an elusive man to catch as bogey was the elusive score.

Bogey referred to the ‘ground score’ which is what an expert golfer would ideally score on a course. It was rivaled by the American term par at the same time. A lot of Bogey Man-related funny phrases crept into the British golfers’ lexicon.

As the US golfing movement grew, their influence reached the UK and the partook over. With golf flying on the wings of science, golfer began aiming for lower scores as par. Is bogey golf bad?  No, the bogey became the mark for a very good golfer and par the mark of an expert golfer.

A few golf clubs with a legacy going back to the 18th century still have both par and bogey ratings on their scorecard.

With time, bogey started being rated 1-over par consistently until it became the norm. Hence continues the journey of bogey through history.

Golf Handicap Vs. a Bogey Golfer?

The USGA handicap system has a different definition of bogey golfers. A bogey golfer is an average player in golf. USGA defines them as:

“A player with a USGA Handicap Index of 17.5 to 22.4 strokes for men and 21.5 to 26.4 for women. Under normal situations the male bogey golfer can hit his tee shot 200 yards and can reach a 370-yard hole in two shots. Likewise, the female bogey golfer can hit her tee shot 150 yards and can reach a 280-yard hole in two shots. Players who have a Handicap Index between the parameters above but are unusually long or short off the tee are not considered to be a bogey golfer for course rating purposes.”

How to become a bogey golfer? A bogey golfer’s score contributes to determining the course and slope ratings of different courses. The formula for course rating depends on the scores of both scratch golfers and bogey golfers on the course.

Scratch vs. Bogey Golfers

Scratch golfers are those whose golf handicap tends to zero. They are good to go pro. Most tournaments require a handicap of 2 or less. Bogey golfers have a higher handicap and need improvement to reach the pro competitions. While assigning handicaps to each course hole, the USGA rating team uses the difference in golfing capability between scratch golfers and bogey golfers.

Convert a Bogey to a Par

Close to the greens, there are some clean shots that can convert what looks like a bogey into a par. Perfecting pitching, chipping, and lobbing the ball out of a sand bunker can improve your chances. We go into the stance, ball position, clubs to be selected, backswing, and downswing.


A bogey in golf is a problem, a double bogey more so. Understanding bogey is the first step in steering clear of it. Being 1-over par, it’s your smallest problem. The disaster hits with a double bogey. In this post, we have tried to link par, bogey, handicap altogether. Hopefully, this will help you understand the golf scoring better.


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Dominic J. Leon
Dominic J. Leon. I am a golfer with a deep passion for golf right from my childhood. I have added unbiased product reviews for all the latest golf equipment from the market leaders. Follow me on: Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin, Tumblr.
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