Importance and Determination of Par

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USGA Handicap System (pre-2020): Par has little significance because a Course Handicap™ represents the number of strokes a player receives in order to play down to the Course Rating™ of the tees being played – not par.

Rule Change for 2020:  Par will have an important role within the World Handicap System™, requiring par values to be more precise. Golf courses fall within the jurisdiction of the Authorized Golf Association, who has the final determination of par based on the following guidelines:

3Up to 260 yardsUp to 220 yards
4240 to 490 yards200 to 420 yards
5450 to 710 yards370 to 600 yards
6670 yards and up570 yards and up
  • When determining par, the Authorized Golf Association will also consider how the hole is designed to be played and effective playing length factors such as elevation, doglegs and forced lay-ups.
    • For example, if an uphill hole falls within the par 5 yardage guidelines for men from all tees except the most forward set, which is 435 yards, that hole may also be designated as a par 5 from the forward tees.

Reasons for Change:

  • The Course Handicap calculation will include a Course Rating minus par adjustment, which will enable a Course Handicap to represent the number of strokes a player receives to play down to the par of the tees being played.
    • As a result, as long as players are competing from tees with the same pars, no additional adjustment is needed.
    • If players are competing from tees with different pars, the player(s) competing from the tees with higher par must add the difference in par to their Course Handicap.
  • The maximum hole score for handicap purposes will be a “net double bogey,” equal to Par + 2 + any handicap strokes the player receives. For this adjustment to be accurate, par values must be correct.
  • When a player does not play a hole, “net par” must be recorded as their score for the hole. Net par is equal to par + any handicap strokes the player receives.