What Does Bogey Mean In Golf?

No matter if you’re an expert or just starting out, it can be confusing trying to learn the wide variety of golf terms. One you often hear on the course is “bogey” – but what does bogey mean in golf?

What Does Bogey Mean In Golf
Photo Geoffrey Baker – What does bogey mean?

Definition Of A Bogey

Simply put a bogey is a score of 1-over par for a given hole.

Now I hear you cry “What is par?”

Par is the number of strokes a scratch golfer would be expected to take to complete the hole.

Par 3s are usually up to about 250 yards, par 4s are 250-500 yards and anything over 500 yards is usually a par 5. 

ParBogey ScoreDouble BogeyTriple Bogey
Par and bogey scores

An 18-handicapper would on average be expected to score a bogey per hole, while a 36-handicapper would average double bogey per hole over the course of a game of golf.

Rarely will you find a player that manages to score the same number of strokes relative to par on each hole. There will be a mixture of eagles, birdies, pars, bogeys, double bogeys and possibly worse.

Where Does The Term “Bogey” Come From?

It’s believed that the term originated with British golfers in the late 1800s. Some think it comes from the name of a military march called “Colonel Bogey” or from the term “Bogey Man”. Others claim it came about due to an “imaginary” golfer named Colonel Bogey.

The name “Colonel Bogey” began in the late 19th century as an imaginary “standard opponent” in assessing a player’s performance, and by Edwardian times the Colonel had been adopted by the golfing world as the presiding spirit of the course.


Either way, it became common slang among all levels of golfers and today you will hear people say “I just made bogey” after shooting 1 over par on a hole.

Handicaps Of Bogey Golfers

Golfers use the term ‘bogey’ to refer to a score that is one over par. A bogey golfer has an average handicap of about 18, which means they typically add around 18 strokes to the total for each round.

Golf Scoring Terms To Know

Golf scoring is an important part of the game. To understand how well you’re doing, it helps to know some key terms. Double eagle, bogey, par 3, par 5, scratch golfer and par are all common golf phrases that will help you keep track when playing golf. Let’s take a look at what each means!

Albatross or Double Eagle A score of three strokes under par for a single hole1 on a par 4 hole
BogeyA score of one stroke over par for a single hole5 on a par 4 hole
Par 3/4/5The number of strokes it should take to complete the designated holes
Scratch GolferA player with no handicap who consistently scores even par or lower
Course ParThe total of par for the golf course by adding up the individual hole pars.
common golf phrases
Bogey Scoring
Photo Geoffrey Baker – Bogey Scoring

What Is Bogey Scoring In Golf?

Bogey is also a scoring format used in golf.

You may find that your golf club runs a few bogey competitions each year so it would be useful to know how to mark your scorecard in that situation.

Hole ScoreScore on CardExample
birdie or better+3 on a par-4 hole
par03 on a par-3 hole
bogey or worse6 on a par-5 hole
bogey scoring format

Add up all the pluses and subtract all the minuses to get your final score.

Usually, the hole scores would be your nett score after any handicap strokes are factored in. So for an easy example let’s consider someone who is receiving 18 shots for the round.

The first hole is a par-5 and they get a six. This means they have scored 5 after taking off the stroke they are allowed for the hole. On the scorecard, they would write 0.

The next hole is a par-3 where they manage to make a par. After deducting their handicap stroke this becomes a 2 and therefore they get a + on their card. The third hole is a par-4 where they make six which is reduced to five but as this is more than the par they get a – on their card.

Generally speaking a good score in a bogey competition would be plus something while a bad one would be minus something.

What Does Bogey Mean In Golf: Summary

In summary, bogey is a term used in golf to describe the number of shots it takes for a golfer to complete a hole. It is always in relation to the par for the hole. A bogey is one over, a double bogey is two over etc.

Bogey golfers are those who typically score one stroke over par on each hole, while par golfers usually make at least par or better. Although bogeying can seem like a bad thing, many golfers never manage to get a handicap of better than 18.

Find out what Greens In Regulation means and how it might reduce your bogeys! Looking for more definitions.

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