What is a Bogey in Golf?

We have a couple of answers to ‘what does bogey mean in golf’ depending on the time in history! It's interesting because the modern bogey is easy to explain. 

The term 'par' came into regular usage in the early 1900s. Par also assigns a target score to each hole, but par was calculated by dividing up holes by their length.

Definition of bogey was more complicated, as it depended on the club actually assessing the difficulty of a hole locally. The implementation of bogey and standardization was not possible as it changed from club to club. 

Once scoring got better, advanced golfers would try for par instead of bogey. "Bogey scores" for the more difficult holes were usually a shot higher than the defined 'par'. You might even find the very traditional golf clubs even nowadays still keep a "bogey score" as well as a "par score" on the scorecard. You might find the total "bogey score" is roughly 5-6 shots higher than the par score. Is this confusing? YES. That's why they stopped it.

Ridiculously, par and bogey scores on every hole could be the same but occasionally, the bogey score was one over par. That's where they got the modern day idea of bogey from. 

What is a bogey in golf scoring?

“Bogey” is a scoring term in the game of golf meaning a player made a score of one stroke over par on a golf hole. This is the current usage of the word.

Here is what would count as a bogey when playing golf:

  • 4 shots on a par-3 hole
  • 5 shots on a par-4 hole
  • 6 shots on a par-5 hole

Original Meaning of Bogey (Historical)

The original meaning of bogey was a score that a skilled golfer would try to make. The word bogey was totally different from a par, which was used at the same time, but par meant the ’perfect’ score on a particular hole.

The concept of a bogey was created in the 1890s but it had a different name,  ‘ground score’ but not yet known as ‘bogey’.

Par was the measurement used in the USA, but in the UK, they liked to use the word bogey. 

What is a bogey competition in golf?

Bogey competitions are a type of game where you play against the course in an imaginary matchplay game. Kind of like trying to beat the house when you're at a casino. This is a great way to improve your own game.

Bogey golf format

How it works: The course scores bogey on each hole: on every hole, you give the course (your opponent) the traditional bogey as described above.

You have to use your discretion with this if you play this competition with yourself as an improvement game. Normally the bogey score is the same as the par on the scorecard but on roughly 6 holes, it's one shot higher than the par.

MY VERSION FOR YOU: If you want to get better at golf, create your own par. Just assign whatever par you want to each hole. Try to beat the 'course' by beating that score on the hole. If you do not beat it, it's a halved hole. You can get much better at golf playing this competition in your mind. 

Later on, these actual official competitions were just turned into Stableford competition which we play today (mainly in English colonies), where your handicap dictates on which holes you receive strokes. If you are a 24 handicap and you play the stoke index 3 hole, you receive two strokes against par, so your score to receive 2 points must be a double bogey. If you score bogey, you beat your personal par by 1 shot, so you get THREE points. 

Is Scoring a Bogey Bad?

Making a bogey in golf can be bag or good depending on how skilled the player is at golf. It's one of those golf terms which means different things to different people.

Golf is a really difficult game to play. The par score of a golf hole is set against the amount of shots professional golfers would expect to play to complete the hole. With this in mind, making a bogey, or "one over par" on a hole is actually a very good score for recreational golfers.

Most golfers would be happy being classed as a "bogey golfer." This means that they can play a golf course taking one shot over par on every hole as an average.

For professional players bogey in golf is a different matter. An expert golfer is trying to play golf courses to par or even under par. Bogey scores can damage their card making them lose ground on the rest of the field.

Bogey Golfer Handicap - Golf handicap for bogey golfer

An average score of around 90 will give a handicap of 15. That is the average handicap of all US male golfers. A golfer who shoots 90 is considered a bogey golfer. 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.

Other types of Bogey - Double Bogey, Triple Bogey, Quadruple Bogey

Yes there are scores worse than bogey when playing golf!

For example, 5 strokes on a par-3 would be a double bogey, and 9 strokes on a par-5 would be a quadruple bogey.

Is it spelled bogeys or bogies?

One bogey, many bogeys. The spelling is bogeys - just add an 's'.

Does Every Golfer Make Bogey in Golf?


Even the most expert golfers and PGA Tour pros will make bogey. It's just part of the game.

In 2021, the PGA tour average for bogeys per round played was 2.72. Tour championship winner Patrick Cantlay finished the season with an average of 2.03 bogeys per round. When you compare this to another top player like Rory McIlroy (2.64 per round) you can see what a bogey means to the average score at that level of golf.

Bogeys For The Average Golfer

Golfers with a 16-20 handicap (about average for most golfers) averaged 7.3 bogeys, 4.7 double bogeys, and 2.1 triple bogeys or worse per 18-hole round. Golfers at this level had 3.6 pars and 0.3 birdies or better on average. Eagles are almost non-existent!

Golfers in the 21-25 handicap range averaged 8.9 double bogeys or worse per 18 holes. This means that they scored worse than a bogey on almost half their holes. Room for improvement!


Bogey is a very common golf term. Now that you have read this article you will see that everyone makes bogeys when playing golf, even the most expert golfer. Becoming a "bogey golfer" is a standard that all beginners can aim for and you will then learn to appreciate the term bogey more as your skill levels increase. 

Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Matt