What Is a 'Double Bogey' Score in Golf?

Examples of the Scores That Result in a Double Bogey

Paula Creamer react after making a double bogey
Yep, making a double bogey can cause this type of reaction. Travis Lindquist/Getty Images

A "double bogey" is a score of two-over par on an individual hole of the golf course.

Par, remember, is the number of strokes an expert golfer is expected to need to play a golf hole. Every hole on a golf course is given a number representing its par rating. A par-3 hole, for example, is expected to take an expert golfer three strokes to complete. And a golfer who does score "3" on a par-3 hole is said to have "made a par."

A golfer makes a "double bogey" when he or she needs two strokes more than par to complete the play of a hole.

A golfer whose average score per hole is a double bogey will average 36-over par (two-over per hole times 18 holes) for his rounds, or roughly in the upper 90s to low 100s in score. Most recreational golfers score in that range (or higher), making most recreational golfers "double bogey golfers."

The Scores That Result in a Double Bogey

These are the specific scores that mean a golfer has made a double bogey:

  • A score of five on a par-3 hole is a double bogey;
  • Scoring a six on a par-4 hole is a double bogey;
  • Scoring a seven on a par-5 hole is a double bogey.

Par-6 holes are rare in golf, but they do exist, so making a score of eight on a par-6 hole is also a double bogey.

Unlike Some Golf Nomenclature, 'Double Bogey' Makes Sense

Not all of golf's scoring terms actually makes sense. A birdie is a score of one-under par on a hole. So shouldn't a score of two-under be a "double birdie"? It isn't—that score is called an eagle. OK, if a score of two-under is an eagle, shouldn't a "double eagle" mean four-under? It doesn't—it means 3-under.

No, golf' scoring nomenclature doesn't always follow logical rules, or math. But "double bogey" does. In fact, all of the bogey-related scoring terms do:

  • Double bogey is two-over par.
  • Triple bogey is three-over par.
  • Quadruple bogey is four-over par, and so on.

Since a "bogey" is a score of one-over, it makes sense to call a score of two-over a double bogey (two is double one, after all).

Usage and Other Spellings

Note that the word "bogey" entered the golf lexicon in the 1890s and, yes, it is related to the Bogey Man. "Bogey" and "par" were originally synonyms; they referred to the same scores. Over time, bogey took on the different meaning of one-over par.

Once "bogey" was in use for one-over par, golfers just added the double, triple and other prefixes to denote higher scores.

"Bogie" is a common misspelling of "bogey." You can also use "double bogey" as a verb: "I need to double bogey the final hole to finish under 90."

The past-tense of "bogey" is "bogeyed": "He bogeyed two of the past four holes."

The Nickname for Double Bogey

There is also a slang term for "double bogey" that is rarely used today, but was once very common. In the early parts of the 20th century, "buzzard" was sometimes used in place of "double bogey." That's in keeping with the avian theme of many golf scoring terms (birdie, eagle, albatross, condor).