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I want to hear others' thoughts on this subject to help prove to someone esle what par should be on a given hole.

This such person claims that a Par 3 doesn't have to be reachable for a putt at birdie (assume an "average" amateur playing from the am pads or the "average" pro from the pro pads). Well....I asked how then, are you supposed to birdie that Par 3??? (my opinion is that if a hole isn't able to be birdied, then the Par is wrong and should be adjusted) Their response is "a Par 3 doesn't have to be birdie-able to be a Par 3". Does that even make sense???

PDGA's definition of Par is: "As determined by the director, the score an expert disc golfer would be expected to make on a given hole. Par means errorless play under ordinary weather conditions, allowing two close range throws to hole-out."

As on the PGA Tour, 

Most Par 3s are reachable by the "average" pro in 1 shot, giving a chance for a birdie with a successful putt ("a close range shot").

Most Par 4s are reachable by the "average" pro in 2 shots, giving a chance for a birdie with a successful putt ("a close range shot").

Most Par 5s are reachable by the "average" pro in 3 shots, giving a chance for a birdie with a successful putt ("a close range shot").

I would assume that a "close range throw" is a PUTT. So according to their definition, a Par 3 for example would mean that that given hole should take 1 shot to get into putting distance and two "close range throws" to hole-out (get a PAR). If you make the first putt, you are awarded with a BIRDIE. Am I right in my thinking? Or am I wrong in assuming a "close range throw" is a PUTT?

Another reason for this discussion is that our course here in Tally, FL has some questionable Pars for some people (mainly alot of Par 3.5s). If alot of our holes aren't even close to being reachable for the "average" amateur from the short pads (am pads), why should it be a Par 3 for them if a birdie (2) is a rare occurrence? (I also have to say the course design wasn't the greatest but that was a while back) It should be a Par 4 then or lengthened some to make it more of a true Par 4.

Please give me your thoughts on this subject

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Hey Dave,Do you remember hole 13 in the Cliff Stevens tourney. The avarage score was 4.4 there. I saw a lefty advanced player make a twenty footer for three.I thought that was a birdie.

Well said Steve. And if anyone out there is watching any of the Masters tournament in ball golf you will see that they show scores vs. par on the leaderboard. If any of you were to go to Augusta National and shoot par I am certain that you would be very happy because it is a difficult course and a score of par would show that you have talent. In ball golf distance is one of the biggest factors in determining par. So par gets set and then the players go out and challenge themselves against the course. Of course pin positions can be changed to make things a bit easier or quite a bit harder.


It is no different in disc golf. And probably the biggest thing about par is the ability of a player to gauge how they are doing during a round relative to par. If you are over par you probably aren't shooting all that well unless conditions are bad. If you are under par you are probably having a good round. Also par gives you a way to figure out how many strokes you might need to "gain" if you are trying to catch up.


If you play one course a lot keeping track of your score relative to par can also give you an idea if you might win some cash in league or not. Last night my partner and I pretty much knew that 6 down was not going to take any money because the course was not playing that hard. In my mind I was shooting to get to 10 down. If we had done that we would have won because 9 down was the best score.

One big difference in disc golf is that par is set to such widely varying standards.  Of the two courses I play most, I average about 15 under par on 1, about 7 over par on the other.  On the former you want to do much more than beat par; on the latter, if I ever par it people will be reading about it online.

Yes...great hole Steve. I was able to 3 it once as well by throwing over everything off the tee. But with the rarity of seeing a 3 recorded (even among the elite pros), I feel that the 3 should be considered slightly more than a birdie which makes sense with a 4.4 average. IMO, it is a tweener Par 4/5 with the two OBs creating a long narrow fairway with trees limiting your distance off of the tee.

The fact that you only remember one amateur player scoring a three on the hole tells me that it was a rarity, and a birdie should not be a rare occurrence. I actually remember any lefty or RHFH with a bomb hyzer easily had a distinct advantage by going around the trees and fading away from OB into the fairway, so it doesn't surprise me that he was the only 3 from an amateur that you saw. btw, has that person moved up yet?

and guys let's remember that although it is obvious that Par is irrelevant to total raw score and that all 3s is easier for score keeping, the discussion is on "how to determine par?" and not "does par even matter?". but I do like how steve west and MIDiscGolfer confirmed reasons why having a Par is essential and therefore makes this discussion Relevant.

Fair enough. There are a number of theories out there.  The PDGA rules definition is pretty vague; they have a chart based on distance and foliage that's a little better.  Chuck Kennedy touts SA (Scoring Average).  I go with something like SA while looking at the scoring spread of a hole, the median score, the most common score, the eye of a newt, stirred together.....

One question is whether par should be based on a scratch pro (1000-rated player), or the skill level the course was designed for.  If the latter, then it's not really translatable between courses designed for different skill levels.

Some methods result in Par-2 holes, which affronts people and these holes get reclassified as Par-3s, which results in some people shooting 10 under par.  Regardless, we play these holes as if they were Par-2s---if we don't get a 2 we feel we've blown the hole, and we've surely lost strokes to the competition.

I think saying holes should be reasonably birdieable, and counting par from that ("1 stroke above the score that occurs often enough to not be a fluke") isn't particularly useful.  As I posted before, a hole that gets mostly 3s if played well but some 4s if the thrower makes a mistake, is still a par-3 to me.


Hence, the different colored tees for different skill levels.

I like "the lowest score that at least 37% of the players (of the intended skill level) get that or better".

Like the other aspects of "par", the color system for skill levels is not universally applied.  I'm not even sure if it's commonly applied.  And even less known by disc golfers.

I'm a white level player, I think, playing a blue level course, I think.  I'm not sure if I need to establish separate "pars" for different skill levels, or say I shot "8-over-blue-par", or what my score on this course means compared to my score on a white-level course.

On the other hand, if pars are set to a uniform skill level of scratch par, the other course I play a lot has about 14 par-2s.


Why 37%?  Instead of, say, 50%?



1/e (~37%) has some information theory things going for it, and because that's enough players to tell me that a hole can be played that way (=par) without a miracle happening.  Par is better than average, because average includes all the players that make one or more mistakes.  So, the bounds are: more often than a miracle, less often than half the players. 

If you only know average scores (or projected average scores on a new course), you can set par to n for scores from n-1/3 up to n+2/3.  That's fairly close to Chuck's use of rounded SSA (or skill-level average).  It's even closer when you realize he throws out the outlying high scores before determining the "average".

As for the colors, just because we're not there yet doesn't mean it's not the direction we should be heading.  We are so early in the development of disc golf, that there is still time for a standard to become nearly ubiquitous.  If all the states get to the level of Iowa in courses per capita, then something like 90% of courses in the U.S. have yet to be built.  Not to mention China, Europe, etc.

There is a lot to be said for just using 1000-rated par.  Especially for comparing courses.  Perhaps it should be included alongside skill-level based par.

The trouble is, everyone will want a way to translate that into what they expect to score.  The tee colors, with their own pars, seems to be the most understandable way to do that.  It's certainly easier than the slope and rating system for golf.

Your "8 over blue par" would be expected to be about the same no matter which course you're playing the blue tees on.  Add or subtract about 5 (more for longer courses, less for shorter) for each level.. You should be 3 over white, 2 under red, or 13 over gold.

Enough courses around here have "standard" tee colors that my wife knows from the tee color how many "extra par" she gets per hole when we play a new course.

Not only do I believe in the existence of par 2's, I see some evidence they are the most effective way to separate players by skill level.  Think of 3 par 2 180-foot holes, vs. 1 par 4 600-foot hole.  Each par 2 hole will provide more scoring separation than the par 4.  And you get three of them for the same chunk of land.

Perhaps that's why we have so many par 2's, even if we don't label them right.

Thanks, Steve.   Lots of good information there.

I don't want to give the impression that I'm disparaging the color system.  If it were more widely and consistently applied, I'd love it.  Which is also true about systems for determining par.  But I'd probably need either multiple teepads, or multiple pars listed on the signs for single teepad ("Gold 3, Blue 4, White 4, Red 5").

I'm in the group that doesn't think par is of great importance, but I'm interested in the competing systems of those that do.  It's curious how often they arrive at the same par for a given hole.

In the meantime I have my own "pars" for the courses I play---what I think I should get (par), what makes me happy (birdie), and what costs me (bogey and more).  And I'm playing par-2s, whether anyone puts them on the sign or not.

As for the single par based on 1000-rated players, I'm not a ball golfer but isn't that roughly how it works?  Other than shorter tees?  Something seems odd about a world where people shoot 12-under-par, and where everyone expects to shoot under par, using an adjustable scale to suit his ability.

You say par isn't important, yet you have your own "pars" for the courses you play.  That term "my own par" describes what everyone wants to know.   What should I score if I don't mess up?  Did I do well today, or was this course just easy?

Golf has a messy way of doing that, with its slopes and ratings and Handicap Index(tm), which all just gives you some strokes that you then have to spread out over the holes and subtract from your score which you then compare to the Course Rating(tm) - which is sort of like a gender-based par - to figure whether you scored well.  It's a bunch of steps.  And instead of subtracting the strokes from their score, a lot of people add the strokes to get to "My Par".  It seems easier to think about it that way - it gives you a number to shoot for on each hole.

Multiple tee pads or multiple pars on one tee pad both work.  You can read My Par right off the tee sign, just look for your skill level.  Even if people don't have a PDGA rating, after a few rounds they'll figure out which par is closer to what they score.

With a par based on a score which is based on something better than average, a player would need to play better than their average to get under My Par.  So, everyone wouldn't expect to shoot under the par suited to his ability, but could hope to on a good day.

The two things that do the most to generate those huge under par scores are labeling all par 2's as par 3's, and using average scores to set par.

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