What Is a Bogey? Definition of the Golf Score

Pros don't like bogeys, but it's a good score for recreational golfers

Steve Wheatcroft making a bogey
Oh, that bogey feeling. Most of us know it all too well. Michael Cohen/Stringer/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

"Bogey" is one of the scoring terms used by golfers and the term "bogey" means the golfer made a score of 1-over par on an individual golf hole.

Par, remember, is the expected number of strokes it should take an expert golfer to complete a hole. Golf holes are generally rated as par-3s, par-4s, and par-5s, which means that an expert golf should need three strokes, four strokes, and five strokes, respectively, to play those holes.

The Specific Scores That Result in a Bogey

How many strokes does it take to make a bogey? That is related the par of the hole being played. Here are the bogey scores for each respective par:

Par-6 holes are uncommon, but golfers do occasionally encounter them. A bogey on a par-6 hole means the golfer used 7 strokes to play that hole.

Keep in mind that although bogey is a score that an expert golfer is usually disappointed with, very few of us are expert golfers! Most recreational golfers aren't displeased when recording a bogey. Depending on your skill level, making a bogey might even be one of the highlights of your round.

Also, keep in mind that even for the very best golfers - those that play the professional tours - bogeys are not rare. Most professional golfers score one or two bogeys during a round. (It's just that they also make lots of pars and birdies to offset their occasional bogeys.)

In fact, you have to go all the way back to the 1974 Greater New Orleans Open to find a PGA Tour golfer who won a tournament without making a single bogey over the 72 holes of the event. That was Lee Trevino. (In 2016, Brian Stuard won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans — same tournament as Trevino! — without making a single bogey, but that event was shortened to 54 holes due to bad weather.)

How Did 'Bogey' Become a Golf Term?

Yes, the golf term "bogey" is related to the Bogey Man. And golfers definitely don't enjoy letting the Bogey Man get us!

But you might be surprised to learn that when bogey first entered the golf lexicon, in the 1890s, its meaning was different than the way we use it today. It was closer to the modern definition of "par" in meaning.

Other Forms and Uses of 'Bogey' in Golf

The term "bogey" shows up in several other golf terms. A bogey golfer is a golfer whose average score is about 1-over par per hole (e.g., a golfer who usually shoots around 90), but that term also has a specific meaning within the USGA Handicap System. "Bogey rating" is another handicap term and refers to an estimate of a golf course's degree of difficulty for "average golfers." That measurement is used by the USGA in its course rating system.

But the most common variations of "bogey" are found in additional scoring terms. Higher scores than 1-over par still incorporate the term bogey, but add a modifier. Here is how it works:

And so on. Although when you start getting up into the quintuple and sextuple bogeys, it's probably best not to put a label on it.

A "bogey putt" is a putt that, if the golfer makes it, results in a score of bogey on the hole.

"Bogie" is a common misspelling of "bogey." Bogey used as a verb means to play the hole in 1-over par: "I need to bogey the final hole to finish under 90." The past tense is "bogeyed" (sometimes spelled "bogied"); the past participle is "bogeyed" and the gerund or present participle is "bogeying."