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What does it take to play Bogey Golf?

Written by: Cesar Figueroa


Introduction to Bogey Golf

Bogey golf, a term familiar to enthusiasts of the sport, represents a scoring standard wherein a golfer averages one over par for every hole played. For many recreational golfers, achieving this standard marks a significant milestone, symbolizing not just improvement, but also a certain level of consistency and competence on the course. The term "bogey" has roots that predate its modern association with golf scores. Its origin offers a fascinating glimpse into golf's rich history and the evolution of its terminology. Understanding how "bogey" transitioned to its current meaning, signifying one over par, adds depth to our appreciation of the game and the milestones golfers set for themselves.  

Bogey Golfer Meaning & FAQ

Bogey Definition: one stroke over par on a hole

The word "bogey" finds its roots in a popular song from the early 1890s in the British Isles titled "The Bogey Man," which was later recognized as "The Colonel Bogey March." This song portrayed an elusive character, akin to a game of chase: "I'm the Bogey Man, catch me if you can." Drawing a parallel to golf, players in England and Scotland saw the pursuit of this elusive "Bogey Man" as symbolic of the chase for the ultimate golf score. By the latter part of the 1890s, "bogey score" was understood as the ideal score achievable by a proficient golfer under optimal conditions. This term also influenced the naming of certain golf tournaments, leading to the reference of 'Bogey Competitions' in early golf rulebooks. However, by the turn of the century, the notion of "Par" began to surface, which denoted the expected number of strokes a top-tier golfer should take on a hole under perfect circumstances. This differentiated "par" from "bogey." The term "par" in sports typically signifies a benchmark or standard, translating to 'equal' or 'on par with.'

What is a Bogey Golf Handicap?

Per the USGA, a bogey golf handicap is playing consistently between +17.5 and 22.  

Why is playing bogey golf notable? 

Bogey golf signifies a major achievement akin to consistently scoring in the 80s. The first notable milestone for many players is regularly breaking 100. After that, the next significant achievement is consistently scoring below 90, which typically characterizes bogey golf. On a par 72 course, this means you're shooting just a bit over +1 stroke per 18 holes. However, the real accomplishment is maintaining this performance consistently. Being that the average golfer shoots around 100 or plays double bogey golf, becoming a bogey golfer puts you in the 3% of all golfers in the USA. 


How long does it take to become a bogey golfer? 

Answering this question is challenging due to the numerous influencing factors, including one's previous golf experience, a complete beginner, should start from the top.  Areas such as frequency of play, availability of a personal trainer, and whether they use fitted clubs, among others. Transitioning from scores in the 120s to the 100s or advancing to double bogey golf can be less demanding than moving from the high 90s to the high 80s. 


As you aim to reduce your handicap further, the journey becomes increasingly challenging. Nevertheless, the commonly cited average duration to achieve this improvement is between 3-5 years. That said, with dedication and focus on double bogey golf, many golfers can reach their goals faster. Always aim high; even if you shoot for the stars, you might land on the moon!

Mistakes that Prevent Bogey Golf

Bogey golf is an achievable benchmark for many players, but there are common pitfalls that can hinder reaching this standard. A prevalent mistake is over-aggressiveness, where golfers often aim for hero shots instead of playing safe, leading to unnecessary hazards. Equally detrimental is not playing to one's strengths; every golfer has strong and weak points in their game, and recognizing and capitalizing on these strengths can make a significant difference. Another common oversight is neglecting practice in critical areas, especially the short game. A majority of shots in a round come within a close radius of the green, yet many players disproportionately focus on long drives. Lastly, poor course management, like not understanding the nuances of each hole or misjudging conditions, can easily add strokes to the scorecard.

Bogey Golf Tips

Golf Tip to avoid double bogey golf, showing two of the same golf gloves, representing double.
Tip to reduce 3 putts and move from a double bogey golfer to a bogey golfer.
Tips on chipping to help become a bogey golfer handicap, vs shooting double bogey golf.
Tip 4 on paying attention to the mental game to play better golf and become a bogey golfer.

Key Strategies to Play Bogey Golf

First and foremost, effective course management is crucial. Choosing the appropriate tees based on your skill level can set the tone for your game. Moreover, understanding the layout of each hole helps in deciding when to take risks and when to adopt a conservative approach. It's often more beneficial to play it safe and aim for a bogey than to ambitiously chase a par and end up with a double bogey or worse.


Equally important is sharpening your short game. Many strokes can be saved around the green with efficient chipping and precise putting. Regularly practicing these aspects, can drastically lower your scores. Remember, it's often the number of putts, not the length of the drives, that determines your score. Speaking of drives, ensuring solid and consistent tee shots is vital.  The right equipment, tailored to your swing and conditions, can make a significant difference in this area.


Lastly, the mental aspect of golf cannot be understated. Everyone has off days or bad holes, but the ability to remain composed, maintain a positive outlook, and visualize successful shots can be the difference between a recovery and a downward spiral. Embracing a resilient mindset can help you navigate the challenges of the course and play consistent bogey golf.

A step by step guide on how to improve your golf score to become a bogey golfer | Play Bogey Golf | Bogey Golf Handicap

From Bogey Golf to Scratch Golfer

Bogey golf, while a commendable achievement for many, is often just the beginning of a golfer's journey towards mastery. Treating bogey golf as a foundation, players can solidify their skills and use their experiences as stepping stones towards loftier goals. Once consistently achieving bogey rounds, the next logical aim for many is par golf. This transition requires not only refining existing skills but also gaining deeper insights into course management and sharpening mental acuity. There are countless inspiring stories of golfers who have embarked on this transformative journey.  

The pinnacle of this progression is undoubtedly the transition to becoming a scratch golfer. Achieving a zero handicap is no small feat and signifies a player's exceptional command over the game's every facet. These stories serve as a testament that with dedication, strategic practice, and continual learning, it's possible to continually raise the bar, transforming from a bogey golfer to a scratch player over time.  Below compares the variance of a scratch golfer in a multitude of facets in the game, to a bogey golfer.  

Chart comparing scratch golfer to bogey golfer and showing disparity
*Arcoss Golf Data


Embarking on the journey from understanding bogey golf to potentially striving for a scratch golfer's proficiency is an exciting and rewarding endeavor. The world of golf is vast, nuanced, and ever-evolving, with each game offering a new lesson and experience. As you continue to hone your skills and deepen your understanding of the sport, remember that there's always more to learn and explore. To further aid your journey and expand your knowledge, we invite you to dive deeper into our Golf 101. With a plethora of articles, tips, and insights, our collection promises to be a valuable companion on your golfing adventure. Explore, engage, and elevate your game to new heights. Check out our other blogs in the Golf 101 series now!  And don't forget to check out our collection of designer golf gloves, nothing better than a glove that fits your style, to accompany you to a bogey handicap.