Average Golf Scores (Good or Bad) – How to Compare Scores and Improve Them?

The best part about golf is that it’s a game that can be played by all, no matter the skills. Even the scoring system is subjective, in most cases at least. For instance, someone’s bad score can actually be somebody else’s good score. And that’s because of the difference in golf handicap. But then it’s good to aim for the overall average golf score.

Scratch golfers who score 85 are right when they consider that as a bad score. But then the same 85 score is good for a golfer who generally scores about 100.

Now let’s get to know what golf scores are average, good, and bad. Along with golf scores based on factors like handicap, age, skills, and more.

What Is the Average Golf Score?

Golf Scores
Golfer Marking Score on Scorecard

For men, the average golf score is 95.7 while for women, it’s 107. Now the same thing in the PGA Tour is 70.98 and the LPGA Tour is 71.7.

In America, the average handicap of amateur male golfers is 14.4. But in the UK, the average is 16. Keeping that in mind, it’s only logical to assume that most amateurs worldwide are closer to the 100-mark golf score.

Also, keep in mind that the majority doesn’t even record their official handicap. And most of these certainly shoot higher scores. And then there’s also the fact that playing to your handicap is something that doesn’t happen very often.

So what’s the outcome of such a commonality among amateur golfers, both male and female? That the real, un-recorded average golf score is actually higher. So don’t make yourself feel so bad in case you happen to score 100 as a male golfer or 110-115 as a female golfer. These scores still mean you’re doing all the right things on that golf course.

Most Important Terms Related to Golf Scores

Hole-In-One –You take just a single shot off the tee for getting the golf ball into the hole.

Par This means neutral score. For example, hitting 5 strokes for completing par-5 hole. In short, whatever the par for the hole, you score the same.

Birdie Minus 1 stroke from the par of the hole. 1 less stroke than the par hole.

Eagle Minus 2 strokes from the par of that hole.

Albatross Minus 3 strokes from the par of the hole. Not such a common occurrence though.

Condor – Even more uncommon, condor means 4 fewer strokes than the par.

Bogey, Double Bogey, Triple Bogey Bogey is plus 1 stroke from the par of the hole. Double Bogey is +2 strokes (Buzzard) and Triple Bogey (Grouse) is +3 strokes than the par. There’s also Quadruple Bogey (+4), Quintuple Bogey (+5), Sextuple Bogey (+6), Septuple Bogey (+7), and Octuple Bogey (+8).

What Is A Good/Bad Golf Score?

What Is A Good/Bad Golf Score?

Let’s start with what is a good golf score?

Consider any score under 120 strokes a good one. This score is certainly above average I know. Nevertheless, it’s still regarded as a respectable golf score, especially for those new to the game. Needless to say, this number is definitely not going to stay the same as you spend more time honing your skills to reach the average score i.e. 90.

When your golf score is 120, you should know that you’re scoring just 30-percent higher in comparison to average golfers. And that’s not so bad considering you’ve just picked up those golf clubs.

So what’s a bad golf score?

If the score surpasses 120 strokes, then it’s labeled as bad. However, don’t be disheartened or discouraged because there are plenty of ways to lower your golf scores (I’ll be discussing this later for sure). And cut yourself some slack for being a beginner and thus not being able to meet the average mark – you’re only just beginning, right?

At 121, you’re hitting at least 30-percent more shots than average golfers for completing an 18-hole round of golf.

What Is A Good Golf Score for Beginners?

Once again, not all golfers score the same nor do they have the same set of golf handicap and skills. On top of that, they also don’t have similar expectations. Agreed? But then beginner golfers, more often than not, have a lot in common in terms of what they want to achieve on the course. For them, a good golf score would be 95-100.

But then what if you’re not scoring 95 to 100 strokes, then what do you do? Well, there are many effective methods for lowering your scores. Such as working on your golf swing mechanics, using proper, beginner-friendly golf equipment, and more.

Needless to say, you have to make more time and effort to get it right, which is bound to happen with practice.

What Is A Good Golf Score for Juniors and Seniors?

Average Golf Scores (Good or Bad)

Senior and junior golfers certainly don’t score like the average golfer, for obvious reasons of course. Average or amateur golfers can generate long distances. Younger players, on the other hand, don’t have the muscle, thus strength for powering through the ball. That means it’s physically not possible for them to hit as long as adults do.

It’s pretty common for junior golfers to hit 6-7 strokes or higher for reaching the green when playing on regular par-4 courses. Add 2-3 putts to this score, which gives you a total of 10. But if the junior player is below 10 years of age, it’s better to not keep score. Unless the young prodigy has the ability to break 100!

On average, junior golfers shoot 140-170 golf scores. And then as you enter your teenage years, you can aim for breaking 90 or 100. Something that, if you can accomplish, means you’re on your way to becoming a very successful golfer. But if that doesn’t happen, it’s alright because most average adult golfers also barely break 100.

Likewise, even senior golfers don’t have the power anymore to shoot long distances. No wonder most of them prefer using golf clubs better suited for their slower swing speed, such as these lightweight, forgiving irons. Nevertheless, many good senior players still manage to score 80 even with distance loss.

Average Golf Score for 9 Holes

9-hole golf means a quick round, such as par-3 courses. So it’s only common for beginners and amateurs to play first few games on the par-3 golf course. With only 9 holes, the turf is comparatively much shorter than full 18-hole golf courses. In that case, you get 3 shots max. per hole for reaching par.

Taking that into account, at least 2 holes pave the way for hole-in-one. And beginners, more than anyone else, love the opportunity to score hole-in-one.

So what’s the average golf score for 9 holes? Between +1 stroke than par and even par, that is only if you have a golf handicap of 10. That way, you shoot strokes no higher than 42. Take away 5 from 42, you get 37. For a 9-hole round of golf with a 36 par total, what’s left is +1. This means a higher score becomes a bad one.

Average Golf Score for 18 Holes

Now let’s talk about 18-hole golf. Needless to say, more commonly used by intermediate and professional golfers, 18 holes consist of a longer, more stretched-out distance. So taking long shots, even though they demand a certain set of expert skills, is possible because of the extra fairway.

The average golf score for 18 holes – 100 strokes. This implies 100 hits in total for completing the 18-hole round of golf.

But then keep in mind that this average score may not be the best for all types of golfers. For example, if your golf handicap is 30 or something, then scoring 100 feels like winning the lottery. On the other hand, 100 is bad for a player with a handicap of 10.

Speaking of which…

Average Golf Score Based On Handicap

Good/bad golf scores – it’s all relative. And the reason why that is – because of your golf handicap. This is the reason why, if you have a good handicap, you should strive to play to your handicap as much as possible. Because then it’s inevitable for your golf scores to come down.

But then what actually happens is the majority of golfers play to their respective handicap and sometimes even better than that only once in three shots. Simply because the whole golf handicap system depends on your potential instead of your average scores.

Taking all of this into consideration, what then is the average score by handicap? That would be 90-100 achieved by a bogey or average player. But many golfers shoot above 100 as well, with an average handicap of 14.5 for men and 26.5 for women.

Now here’s the average golf score based on different handicaps…

  • If you’re shooting 100, your golf handicap would be 28.
  • If you’re shooting 95, your golf handicap would be 20.
  • If you’re shooting 90, your golf handicap would be 18.
  • If you’re shooting 85, your golf handicap would be 11.
  • If you’re shooting 80, your golf handicap would be 10-11.
  • If you’re shooting 75, your golf handicap would be anywhere from 2 to 6.

Average Golf Score Based On Age

Let me just present the table format first…

AGE OF GOLFER AVERAGE GOLF SCORE (18 holes)
Seniors (above 70 years of age) 93-94 strokes
60 to 70 years of age 91 strokes
50 to 60 years of age 91 strokes
40 to 50 years of age 91-92 strokes
30 to 40 years of age 91-92 strokes
20 to 30 years of age 89-90 strokes
10 to 20 years of age 89-180 strokes
7-10 years of age 144-180 strokes

Now let’s talk about the why and how of the differences in golf scores across the age spectrum.

Naturally, kiddie golfers below the age of 10 score the highest. Their average is 8-10 shots for each hole, which is 5 more than the strokes taken by their full-grown, adult counterparts. And this is only inevitable since children don’t yet have the skills, coordination, and strength required by the game.

Then when golfers get older, meaning when they start to age, the difference in average score becomes minimal. Compared to a 20-something golfer, a 70-something golfer shoots just 4 more strokes per round of golf. And this proves that skills and expertise are more important than anything else in the game of golf.

Needless to say, older players cannot compete or play on the same level as their younger fellow golfers. Simply because of the fact that neurons fire faster and neural pathways form quicker when you’re young. So the brain has a more malleable nature to overcome the physical and mental challenges of learning the game during your younger years.

Calculating Average Golf Scores – Factors That Really Matter

Allow me to cover each and every factor that affects your golf score…

1. Course Difficulty

Now it would be illogical to just assume that all golf courses have the same characteristics and hazards. Extremely long courses are as prevalent as extremely short ones. Some have difficulties in the form of ponds and other such water bodies while some have no water at all.

Even fairways can be hilly in a few while flat in others. Along with wide-open spaces or tree-lined fairways.

So it’s only natural for performance to differ from one golf course to another. You might shoot higher strokes at your least favorite course and the lowest at your most favorite. So, needless to say, how difficult the turf does indeed determine your golf score.

2. Course Rating

Scratch golfers’ expected score is known as course rating. You can get access to this particular information online or on the scorecard. In the case of the latter, look at the left-hand side (beside the tee box colors). The number printed there is the course rating, which is different for every tee.

Compared to the course par, if it’s a lower course rating, then it means scratch golfers should score under par. On the other hand, for a higher rating than the par of the golf course, you ought to shoot above par.

3. Slope Rating

Most part of the golfing population doesn’t belong to the scratch golfer category, right? On that note, you need to know all about slope rating. It’s the most suitable for determining the expected score of a bogey golfer in comparison to scores achieved by scratch golfers.

Slope rating is the slope that passes through the X and Y axis. X representing handicap and Y is the predicted score. Now if that line of slope is 108, an additional 1.08 strokes should be expected per handicap point difference. For instance, when 113 is the slop rating of the average golfer, he/she is bound to lose by about 20 strokes to the scratch golfer.

Calculating Your Expected Average Golf Score

You can use both course rating as well as slope rating for calculating your expected score.

For example, it’s a par-72 golf course with a 72 course rating and 113 slope rating. At this point, deduct 72 from an average of 100 strokes (the expected score of scratch golfers). This gives you 28 strokes. So you lose by 28 strokes to scratch golfers.

But then what’s the math here? Slope rating into .2477. Multiply 13x .2477, you get 27.99 or 28.

Now add this 28 to your 72 course rating, which is equal to 100. So yeah, average golfers, in this scenario, would shoot 100.

Most Useful Tips to Lower Your Golf Scores

There are simply too many of these but let me just list down only those that are the most effective, especially for beginners.

1. Buy Proper Golf Clubs or Have A Favorite Club

Your golf club selection has to be thoroughly researched. Weaker golfers (meaning those with a slower swing speed or higher handicap) are better off using extremely forgiving, beginner-friendly golf clubs.

On the other hand, if you’re an experienced or skilled player, then invest in more advanced clubs that work with your faster swing speed and lower handicap level.

Many golfers even have a favorite or go-to golf club that they always use when having a hard time developing solid contact with the ball. This club seems to work every single time, maybe because you must’ve practiced all sorts of shots using it.

2. Master Swing Fundamentals

This includes a solid, stable swing foundation (proper stance and alignment) along with proper backswing, downswing, and follow-through. These are golf swing basics you have to ace before you go about learning or improving any other skill or technique in golf.

3. Use Technology for Golf Training

After all, practice does make perfect, right? But then be sure to practice the smart way. And by that, I mean using things that golf training equipment. Such as launch monitor, swing trainer, etc.

There’s plenty of amazing tech that helps you navigate your course. Being aware of yardages (both carry and total) as well as knowing hazards certainly gives you an added advantage. And this compels your scores to lower on a consistent basis.

4. Don’t Underestimate Your Short Game

Calibrating the short game is something that most beginners and amateurs fail to do because they’re all focused on the long game only. But neglecting your short game can prove to be quite detrimental as far as your golf scores are concerned.

Please note that the short game is all about choosing the right wedges. Even more so now since there’s this huge variety of wedges to buy these days. Now you may also want to know that pro-level golfers carry four wedges. So make sure that your selection or choice of wedges is well-suited to your set of skills.

Summing It Up – You Now Know the Good, Bad, and Average!

A ‘good’ golf score is below 90. An ‘average’ golf score is 100. And a ‘bad’ golf score is above 120. For women golfers though, the average is slightly higher (110-115).

Now let me also tell you, for the last and final time, that what may be a bad score for you might be a good one for another golfer. Meaning it all depends on your golf handicap. Every player is different, plays differently, expects different results, and has different goals. So it just doesn’t make any sense to compare and aim for what someone else has accomplished.

However, it is good to know average scores and yardages. So at least you have that in mind and can feel good to know that you’re inching closer to the desired numbers through some serious practice sessions.

Just don’t get too obsessed with these numbers – the ultimate aim is to have a fun and relaxing time on the turf. All the rest will follow with proper technique and form!

Carolyn Heller’s highly resourceful blog, Golf Depends, could easily become your go-to platform for the most authentic, practical golf-related content. It’s where you begin to appreciate the sport and learn how to improve your game with more positive results and less frustration. [View all posts by Carolyn Heller.]

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