I’ve been working with some new players, as in beginners. One of my standard procedures with people new to golf is to show them the golf course, explain what they’re looking at and relate what they see on course to the purpose of the scorecard and what the heck all those numbers and boxes are for. The formal definition of “par” is prerequisite during the session.
I have taken note, yet again, how the tiny but mighty word “par” damages the games of so many casual players. Even among beginners (especially men who know the formal definition) struggle with the idea that par pertains to the expert player only and not to them. I am careful to also explain that it is very likely that they will score par on a hole from time to time, maybe even several during a round, especially if they embrace the idea of how the holes are handicapped and then play strategically.
But alas, even with the simplest, common sense presentation, the persistence of attaining par on the wrong holes and more often than should be realistically expected remains.
The resulting damage? Higher scores on more holes more often than should be reasonably expected. No wonder the average score of 100 has held steady for seventy years.* Just sayin.
PS. Formal definition of par provided below. Go ahead, look it up.
In golf, par is the pre-determined number of strokes that a scratch (or 0 handicap) golfer should require to complete a hole, a round (the sum of the pars of the played holes), or a tournament (the sum of the pars of each round).
*National Golf Foundation, 2012
Maybe it’s not as difficult as it seems.