Bogey Golf – The Golf Scoring Term Explained

A close up of golf call near the golf course hole and a golfer is observing the shot.

Bogey is a golf term that means a golfer has scored one over par on a particular hole, whereas bogey golf is a scoring system that combines elements of stroke play and match play.

Examples of bogeys include:

  • Four strokes on a par-3 hole
  • Five strokes on a par-4 hole
  • Six strokes on a par-5 holes

I. Types Of Bogey – Double, Triple, And Quadruple

Scores worse than a bogey are classified as:

  • “Double Bogey” is a score of 2 strokes over par on any individual hole.
  • “Triple Bogey” – A score of 3 strokes over par on any individual hole.
  • “Quadruple Bogey”– It is a score of 4 strokes over par on any individual hole.

For example, five strokes on a par 3 would be a double bogey, and nine strokes on a par 5 would be a quadruple bogey.

II. The History Behind The Term – Bogey

As per the USGA, the term “bogey” in golf originated from a song that was popular during the early 1890s in the British Isles named “The Bogey Man.” This was later named “The Colonel Bogey March.” The character of the song was an elusive figure who always hid in the shadows and said – “I am the bogeyman, catch me if you can.”

In the late 1890s, golfers in Scotland and England adopted the concept of a “Bogey Man” to reflect an ideal score that all skilled players should be able to achieve under perfect conditions. 

As such, ‘bogey scores’ became associated with stroke play tournaments explaining why early rules books contain details about regulations for ‘Bogey Competitions.’ The hunt for this mysterious Bogey Man is likened to finding perfection on the green!

At the dawn of this century, the idea of ‘Par’ arose to signify how many strokes a scratch player could possibly hit in ideal circumstances. Nowadays, par is used as an average term in sports handicapping and simply implies “level” or “equal.” 

At first glance, it may be perplexing why Par differs from Bogey; however, this originates from its purpose: to recognize golfers who score below par (better than expected) versus those scoring above (worse than intended).

III. Bogey Based On Skill Level

A bogey is a golf stroke-play score assigned to a player who completes a hole one stroke over par. It is typically used to refer to a player’s score on a single hole, but it can also be used to refer to a player’s total score for a round. As mentioned earlier, it depends on the golfers’ skill level. Let’s analyze this in detail: 

1. Beginner Golfer

Par on a course is what most experienced golfers target. But beginners, on average, get at least a double bogey per hole, if not higher. In comparison, scoring a bogey is a better start for a beginner.

2. Average Players

Most commonly, recreational golfers do not play as much as pro golfers, so it’s obvious that they have considerably lower skill levels. Getting a bogey totally depends on the player’s exact handicap, so a casual golfer’s bogey can be viewed as anywhere between average to above-average scores.

3. Professional Golfer

In the case of professional golfers, scoring a bogey is considered extremely bad. This is because a bogey denotes a score of one over par (+1), which means the golfer needs one more stroke than the number of strokes required to complete the hole. 

Professional players always expect to shoot par or even below par, so a bogey can signify that they did not play as well as they should have.

IV. Bogey Golfer Handicap Index

In golf, a handicap index is a numerical measure of a player’s potential ability, based on their past scores. It is used to adjust a player’s score in relation to the course’s par rating to determine a more equitable score for players of different skill levels.

The USGA handicap index for a bogey golfer would typically be around 20 for a male bogey golfer and 24 for a female bogey golfer. This means that, on a course with a rating of 70, a bogey golfer with a handicap index of 20 would receive strokes on the holes where they typically score higher than one over par, and they would be required to play the holes where they score lower than one over par without a stroke.

The average score of 90 is given a handicap of 15. That is the average handicap of all US male golfers. A golfer shooting 90 on a par-72 golf course is an incredible accomplishment for the average score by bogey golfers. This is only if they get bogey on every hole!

Achieving this feat can be an incredibly satisfying moment after all those rounds with your buddies. That means the player averages one bogey (+1) per hole on a par 72, 18-hole course, which means he finishes +18 for a score of 90.

V. Bogey Golf Format

If you are playing against an opponent and they score a bogey on each hole, then you need to give them the traditional bogey as described above.

You have to use your discretion if you play this competition with yourself as an improvement game. Typically the bogey score is the same as the par on the scorecard, but on roughly six holes, it’s one shot higher than the par.

VI. Bogey Competitions In Golf Courses

In a bogey competition, each hole is worth one point, and the golfer with the most points at the end of the round is the winner. In the event of a tie, the tie is broken by comparing the scores on the last nine holes, then the last six, then the last three, and finally, the 18th hole. If the tie still cannot be broken, the prize money is typically split evenly among the tied players.

Bogey competitions can be held as standalone events or as part of a larger golf tournament. They are often used as a way to make golf more accessible to players of all skill levels, as it allows players to compete on a level playing field. It also allows for a wider range of scores to be considered competitive.

Some golf courses may also offer bogey competitions as a way for players to compete in a more relaxed, informal setting without the pressure of trying to shoot their lowest score possible.

VII. Steps to avoid bogey

There are several straightforward steps you can take to prevent bogeys.

Be patient: It’s easy to get frustrated and rush your shots when things aren’t going well. However, taking a deep breath and focusing on each shot individually can help you avoid costly mistakes.

Get to know your clubs: Knowing the average distance you hit each club can help you make better decisions on the course. Take time to practice with each club and determine your typical distances.

Imagine your shot: Before taking a swing, visualize the shot you want to make. This can help you focus and execute your desired outcome.

Practice: Consistent practice is crucial for improving your game. Make time to work on all aspects of your game, from driving and iron play to chipping and putting.

VIII. What Should A Bogey Golf Strategy Include?

The bogey golf strategy is a game plan that can help golfers improve their skills, elevate their scores, and sharpen their game. 

To get started, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 bogey golf strategies. Explore how to turn bogeys into your advantage and enhance your scores on the course.

1. Tee Shot Strategy

To execute the bogey golf strategy successfully, prioritize consistent and controlled tee shots over distance by assessing the course, choosing the right club, and focusing on proper technique. Stay committed and focused throughout the shot to avoid costly mistakes and set yourself up for success on the course.

To play bogey golf, plan your shots strategically by positioning the ball on the fairway or green for the easiest next shot. Your bogey strategy should include tactics for making par, and in difficult cases, settling for bogey. 

Although you aim to achieve a bogey round, it’s unlikely that you will play 18 bogeys in a row. Instead, you may have a mix of pars, bogeys, and a few higher scores. 

2. Approach Shot Strategy

The approach shot strategy is critical in bogey golf. It’s important to assess the distance, wind, and any hazards to make the best shot choice. If you’re unsure of the distance, use a GPS or rangefinder to determine the optimal club selection.

To stick to your bogey golf strategy, never aim for the pin unless you’re within 50 yards or it’s positioned in the center of the green. This approach will help you avoid trouble and improve your results. 

Instead, take a safer shot and assess any hazards or obstacles surrounding the green before making your choice. Making wise shot selections will help you achieve better scores in the long run.

3. Scoring Tactics For A Bogey Golf Strategy

To effectively score in bogey golf, focus on playing consistent shots and avoiding penalties. Don’t be afraid to take a bogey on difficult holes, but aim to make par whenever possible. It’s important to have a scoring strategy in place for when things don’t go as planned. 

After a bad shot, assess the situation and aim to get out of trouble. Often, this means taking a chip or pitch shot to get back on the fairway. From there, aim for a good position to make your next shot onto the green.

Keep track of your score throughout the round and adjust your tactics accordingly. By staying calm and strategic, you can improve your overall score and achieve success in bogey golf.

4. Recovery Shots Strategy

In bogey golf strategy, recovery shots play a critical role. When you find yourself in trouble, your goal should be to get back to a playable position rather than trying to make an aggressive shot. 

You should choose a club that can get you out of the trouble and back onto the fairway or onto the green. Always keep in mind the bogey golf strategy, and focus on minimizing damage while keeping your score consistent.

5. Putting Bogey Golf Strategy And Tactics

Putting is an essential part of bogey golf strategy. The slope and speed of the green should be taken into account when placing your ball for the next putt if you want to enhance your putting. A successful putting strategy must eliminate three putts in order to be effective. 

Additionally, it’s advised to make your initial putt and try to get as close to the hole as you can, ideally inside three feet. If at all feasible, leave an uphill putt because they are frequently easier than downhill ones.

The above article explains whether playing bogey can help in making more pars.

IX. Tips For Playing A Bogey Round Of Golf

Playing a bogey round can be useful for golfers of all levels, but it takes a specific approach and strategy to do it successfully. Here are 5 essential tips that every golfer should know to play a successful bogey round.

1. Ensure Adequate Warm-Up

Make sure you adequately warm up before the game to reduce the risk of injuries and improve your performance. You can start with light exercises and stretches to loosen up your muscles and improve flexibility.

2. Master Short Game Shots

You should practice your short game shots, including pitching, chipping, and bunker shots, on the practice green. This will help you get up and down more frequently, ultimately saving you strokes.

3. Reduce Three-Putts

Keep the focus on your putting skills to reduce three-putting. This includes lag putting and distance control, as well as taking the time to read the greens and aim your putts properly. Practicing your putting speed on different types of greens can also improve your overall bogey shot experience.

4. Consider Swapping Driver For Accuracy

Consider using fairway woods or hybrids instead of a driver to prioritize accuracy over distance. This will help you avoid hazards and keep the ball in play, maintaining your momentum and staying on track for a successful bogey round.

Read more: Fairway Wood vs. Hybrid

5. Keep The Ball In Play

Keep the ball in play by aiming for consistent and straight shots instead of risky shots. This approach will help you steer clear of penalties and stay on course for a good score.

X. How long does it take to become a bogey golfer?

The duration to achieve bogey golf status can fluctuate greatly depending on various factors. These include your initial skill level, frequency of play, and whether you’re using custom-fitted clubs, among other considerations.

Generally, it’s easier to improve from scoring in the 120s to the 100s or to achieve double bogey golf than to progress from high 90s to high 80s. As you strive to lower your handicap further, the process tends to become more difficult.

On average, it’s typically estimated that it takes between 3-5 years to become a bogey golfer. However, with commitment and a concentrated effort on improving specific aspects of your game, many golfers may reach this milestone quicker. 

XI. What Does Bogey-Free Mean?

In golf, a bogey is a score on a hole that is one stroke over par. For example, if a hole is a par 4 and a golfer takes 5 strokes to complete the hole, they would have made a bogey. Therefore, a bogey-free round of golf means that the golfer did not make any bogeys on any of the holes during their round.

A bogey-free round is also known as a “clean” round or a “round without blemishes.” It requires a combination of good shot-making, solid course management, and a bit of luck.

To go bogey-free in a round of golf is considered a very good accomplishment, as it means that the golfer was able to complete each hole in at least par or better. It is especially impressive if the golfer is playing a course considered challenging or if the golfer is a handicapped player.


A bogey in golf is a score that is one over par on any given hole. It can be achieved by an average golfer and is an achievable goal for all golfers. Bogey represents a good score and can be a great goal to strive for. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, bogey can be a great way to measure your progress in the game of golf.


1. Does Every Golfer Make Bogey In Golf? 

Yes, every golfer is likely to make a bogey at some point during a round of golf, even professional golfers. PGA tour players averaged 2.72 bogeys per round in 2021. However, Patrick Cantlay, the Tour Championship winner, and Rory Mcllroy, one of the top players,  finished with an average of 2.03 bogeys per round and 2.64 bogeys per round, respectively, which is significantly lower than the average PGA Tour player. Therefore, it can be said that making a bogey is a normal part of the game.

2. Is Scoring A Bogey Bad?

Scoring a bogey is sometimes bad as it comes down to the golfing ability. It is the case, especially with low handicappers, scratch players, and pros who expect more than just a bogey from each hole or for par or even better!

3. Is Par Or Bogey Better?

In golf, par is the expected number of strokes for a hole, while a bogey is one stroke over par. Generally, par is considered better than bogey because it represents meeting or exceeding the expected score. However, individual goals and skill levels can influence perception.

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