The mention of a bogey strikes fear 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 Pernevik’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 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, a par is an ideal score that an expert golfer makes on the hole. So bogey is 1-over that score.
- 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 mean in golf.
There are related 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 for 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 par took over. With golf flying on the wings of science, golfer began aiming for lower scores as par. The bogey became the mark for a very good golfer and par the mark of an expert golfer. A few golf clubs with legacy going back to 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 the history.
Golf Handicap Vs. a Bogey Golfer
The USGA handicap system has a different definition of bogey golfers. A bogey golfer is the 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."
USGA Handicap Index
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 have detailed posts on how to chip a golf ball and how to hit out of a sand trap. 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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