Learning the game requires not only the skill of how to build a golf swing, but also some understanding of golf scoring. Basically, it involves counting the number of strokes you need to complete a hole, which maybe under, even or over the par score, and it’s the player with the lowest score who wins. Here are some commonly used terms that will help you with this seemingly mysterious system.
Par refers to the predetermined number of strokes an accomplished player or a scratch (0 handicap) player is expected to need to complete a hole, either a three, four or five. For each hole, there is a “par” assigned to it, such as par 3, par 4 or par 5. If a golfer takes 4 strokes to get the ball in the par-4 hole, we say s/he has tallied a “par”.
Birdie is a term used to describe the score where the golf player takes one fewer stroke than the given par of any hole. For example, if a player scores 4 on a par-5, we call it a birdie.
Eagle is a term given to the score which is of two strokes under par on a hole. It usually occurs when the ball travels far enough to reach the green with fewer strokes than expected.
An albatross, also known as double eagle, means scoring three under par on a hole. The term refers to when a golf player takes three fewer strokes than the given par of a hole.
Bogey refers to a score of one over par on a hole. If a golf player needs to take one stroke more than par to complete a hole, s/he makes a “bogey.”
A double bogey is used to describe a score of two over par on a hole, when the player takes two more strokes than the given par to finish a hole.
An “ace”, also known as “hole-in-one”, means hitting the ball into the hole with only one shot. It is a rare feat that requires both skills and luck, and is definitely one of the most craved accomplishments in the game.
A handicap refers to a numerical measure of the average number of strokes over par a certain golf player makes on a standard golf course during a round. It is a number that is allotted to a particular golfer that reflects his or her relative ability, which enables players of varying abilities to compete with each other in the game. The lower the handicap of a golf player, the better golf player s/he is considered.
The stroke play — counting each of your golf swing — is the most common form of competition, usually used at most professional tournaments among professional golfers. You may also encounter some other scoring methods such as match play, where the player who wins the most holes becomes the winner.