In this quick guide, I’ll talk about what is considered a good golf score for a beginner so you can set some goals on how you’d like to perform if you’re new to golf! But don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t score well at first! When I was a beginner I scored 140 or higher for 18 holes but after practicing golf for a few months I was eventually able to get my score down below 100.
A good golf score for a beginner would be a score below 100. The average beginner is going to score around a 140 to 160 for 18 holes so you’re already ahead of the average golfer if you can get your handicap below a 70. But I think once you get your golf handicap below a 30, then that is considered really good for a beginner!
Below I cover golf scores for beginners, junior golfers, adult golfers, and senior golfers so feel free to skip to the section that applies to your age group.
My name is Nick Foy, a golf expert and instructor at Foy Golf Academy. I’ve helped thousands of golfers lower their golf score and be above average golfers by following my Golf Practice System.
Let’s dive deeper into important things to know about scoring well in golf.
How the Golf Scoring System Works
If you’re new to golf it’s crucial to learn how scoring works on a scorecard. Here’s a summary of what each score is called:
- Eagle (-2) = two under par (ex: scoring a 3 on a Par 5)
- Birdie (-1) = one under par (ex: scoring a 3 on a Par 4)
- Par (0) = par adds / subtracts 0 to your score
- Bogey (+1) = add 1 to your score (ex: made a 5 on a Par 4)
- Double Bogey (+2) = add 2 to your score (ex: made 6 on a Par 4)
- Triple Bogey (+3) = add 3 to your score (ex: made 7 on a Par 4)
Par is the base level score you aim to get on every hole. On the scorecard you’ll find a par assigned to each hole which is how many strokes you’re expected to take to make the golf ball in the cup.
As a beginner, it’s common to score a lot of bogey, double bogey, and triple bogies which means making scores above par. The goal should be to score more pars.
9 Hole vs 18 Hole Golf Score for a Beginner
45 is considered a great score for 9 holes for a beginner. To score a 45 or better you would try to average a bogey on every hole. So if the par is 4, you’ll try to take just 5 strokes to finish the hole.
If you make a double or triple bogey on a hole, it’s okay! You can always balance it out by making a par or birdie later on a different hole to get your average score bag to bogey golf.
Scoring a 50 is still a good score too for beginners.
For 18 holes, I would aim to score below 100. This is what I consider a good golf score. Scoring above 100 is normal for the average golfer but eventually as you practice you should be able to score better than 100 strokes for an 18 hole round of golf.
That’s giving you 28 strokes above par which is between a bogey and double bogey on each hole on average.
Beginners Should Try to Break 90
To help you score better than the average golfer, I recommend setting a scoring goal to aim for.
Breaking 90 in golf is difficult for beginner’s but it’s a huge milestone and could be a starting point when setting a scoring goal for yourself.
To make a 90 golf score would require just 18 strokes over par. This is doable if you give yourself a bogey per hole.
So how do you quickly lower your golf score as a beginner? Let’s cover my best tips for how to practice and how to use course strategy to score lower.Resource: Golf Practice System with Step by Step Practice Plans + Video Lessons
Tips for Achieving a Lower Golf Handicap
#1: Have a Practice Schedule
The reason I was able to lower my golf handicap quickly from 50+ to under 20 (bogey golf) was due to my practice schedule. I practiced golf 6 days per week and each day I spent several hours completing chipping drills and putting drills on the practice green.
#2: Practice Short Game 80% of Your Time Spent Practicing
Short game was key to helping me break 80 without having a great golf swing. This would be the approach you should take too. Work on your short game if you want to quickly lower your golf handicap.
#3: Practice Your Golf Swing Every Day Too
The golf swing is also important if you want to score well. You have to make consistent contact with the golf ball to move it from tee to green. Most beginners will waste a lot of strokes making chunks and poor contact shots that don’t hit the ball very far down the fairway.
#4: Build your confidence level
As a beginner it’s normal to be nervous and it’s also natural to get upset and angry at yourself while playing terrible golf. But as you start to improve you’ll find yourself getting more addicted to the sport of golf.
That taste of improving and seeing your golf scores getting better will hook you in.
The key to seeing success quicker on a golf course is building up your confidence level! Playing with confidence can shave strokes off your golf score as you avoid letting fear and pressure affect you.
Does Your Golf Score Matter as a Beginner?
Let’s be honest here. Golf is hard game. Hitting a small ball to a flag stick on the green is not easy!
And then once on the green trying to putt the ball into the hole is a challenge in itself as many golfers take 2 to 3 putts.
Along the way from tee to green you face challenges like out of bounds markers, water, sand, tall grass, trees, and other obstacles (here’s our guide on rules of golf).
In addition to physical barriers you also face mental barriers.
- How far to hit the ball,
- What club to use,
- How will the wind affect the shot,
- Will I slice or hook the golf ball,
- Will I top or chunk the golf ball,
- And many other thoughts racing through our minds in a matter of seconds
Many golfers will even put pressure on themselves to shoot a good golf score as if their life depends on it.
They’ll go as far as to cheat or lie about what score they got on a certain hole. Could it be out of embarrassment or is it their character deep down within being brought out by the sport of golf?
Overall, don’t get too worried if you’re not scoring very well on the golf course as a beginner. You’ve got lots of time to improve and we created these practice plans to help speed up your improvement and help you lower your golf handicap.
Why Compare Your Golf Score to Others?
In a dream world, I would tell you not to compare yourself to others in life and in golf.
There are so many different variables affecting everyone’s golf game and maybe you are one or two fixes away from shooting much lower golf scores than you are currently.
But I know you want a concrete answer to compare yourself against other golfer’s around the world.
In order to share my opinion of what a good golf score is, we need to establish three different categories of golfers.
The first group is young golfers and the second group is adult golfers. Plus we also cover the scoring habits of seniors if you’ve ever wondered what is a good golf score for seniors.
Let’s get started.
What is a Good Golf Score for Young Golfers?
Younger golfers get their own grouping because they are not fully developed yet in terms of size and muscle.
Consider an 8 year old trying to play a 400 yard par 4. It’s going to take him 6 to 7 shots to reach the green more than likely and then an additional 2 to 3 strokes putting, placing him at 8 to 10 shots.
If the 8 year old averages 8 strokes per hole for 18 holes, his score would be 144 and if averaging 10 strokes the score would be 180.
I think back to when I was 12 years old and I played golf once per summer at my grandparents. I remember scoring double and triple bogies on most holes, bringing my 18 hole total score to 120-130.
If you’re a young golfer (5 years old to 12 years old) and can break 100, then you are in the top percent of golfers your age. Otherwise I’d expect scores of 130 to 150 to be average because of the distance factor and not having the strength yet to reach the holes in the regulation number of strokes.
Middle school golfers (age 12-14) should be able to reach greens in regulation and therefore should be able to break 100. They’re in puberty stage, developing muscle and beginning to lift weights for the first time to increase strength. I would say a middle school average score would be around 100-110. If you can break 100, you’re in good shape for making your high school golf team in a few years as you continue to develop strength (distance) and improve your short game.
High school golfers I’m more familiar with having recently played competitive high school golf 4 years ago. To make varsity for most high schools you need to score in the 80’s and 70’s. For 9 hole matches most golfers on varsity ranged between 36 and 43.
Our team went 19-2 my senior year because we had 5 guys who could shoot in the 70’s and low 80’s consistently. This beat most teams who had mostly guys who shot in the 80’s.
Therefore, I’d say in high school the average score is 85-90. If you’re below 85 you’re a pretty good golfer and if you’re above 90 then you’re likely a beginner. For a beginner, I’d expect you to shoot around 100 or more but a good score for a beginner would be 90-100.
Scoring a 90 is considered bogey golf because the average score would be 5 and the average par is 4. You’d finish 18 strokes over par 72 which is the same as bogeying every hole.
Aim for These Scores for Young Golfers:
- Under 12 Years Old – 120 would be a good golf score (150 for beginners)
- 12 Years to 14 Years Old – 70’s & 80’s would be a good golf score (120 for beginners)
- 15 to 18 Years Old – under par and par golf are good golf scores (90-100 for beginners)
Most young golfers are competing in tournaments locally, statewide, and nationally which is why I’m giving them lower scores than you may agree with. They have more hours to dedicate to practicing the game and a drive to make their high school team.
What is a Good Golf Score for Adults?
For adults, the scoring will be different because you are fully grown and have sufficient strength to reach the greens in regulation. For example, on a par 4 you would be expected to reach the green in 2 strokes, leaving you 2 putts to make par.
The average adult male hits their driver around 220 yards, but we usually see golfers who score in the 70’s and 80’s hitting the ball much further. The best golfers in the world can hit 300-350 yard drives on average. The majority of good golfers will hit the ball 250-290 yards and beginners will fall somewhere between 210 yards and 270 yards.
Since adults can hit the ball far, it usually comes down to your short game skill. How well can you putt and chip? If you miss the green on your approach shot, can you still get your chip shot close and sink the putt to save your par?
According to National Golf Foundation data, 45% of all golfers average more than 100 strokes per round. With that said, it is believed that a 108 is considered to be a good score for a beginner golfer, which equates to double bogey on each hole of a par 72 course.
If you’re a beginner and breaking 100 or even 90 then that’s very impressive as well. Only 10% of golfers worldwide ever reach scratch golf.
When I first started taking golf serious at age 16, I averaged 120+ for 18 holes. I quickly dropped down to bogey golf though within a few months of intense practice and averaged between 85-95 heading into winter.
What’s a Good Golf Score for Seniors?
A golf score in the 80’s would be considered a good golf score for senior players. Why so?
Senior golfers will start seeing their club distances decrease with time and they’ll fight the battle of having to move from regular tees up to the senior tee boxes.
As club speed diminishes with age, seniors will be forced to hit more golf shots with their woods and hybrids to reach greens in regulation. I witnessed it firsthand playing alongside my grandfather and boy was he good at hitting hit hybrid clubs.
Most senior golfers can still score in the 80’s despite losing distance off their clubs, but the elite senior golfers can score in the 70’s. For example, the Champions Tour on TV features many golf pro’s who can still score in the 60’s for 18 holes even though they’re all 50+ years old.
Don’t let getting older discourage you. Your best golf years are ahead as you now have more time to play the sport and the ability to travel the world playing some of the best golf courses.
Our best tip is if you see your scores getting worse and you haven’t made the move to the senior tee boxes yet, then you probably should. It will make the game more fun again by giving yourself chances to make birdies and pars.
Types of Golfers
Golfers who play for fun and not professionally for money. You automatically have amateur status as a golfer by default but once you play a tournament for money, you can possibly lose amateur status.
Most amateur golfers play the sport less frequently and therefore have average golf scores ranging from low 70’s up to 140+ for 18 holes. Skill development depends on many factors for amateur golfers.
Junior golf is for individuals who are between the ages 3 to 17. The AJGA (American Junior Golf Association) is a great starting point to learn more about resources and tournaments available to junior golfers.
Junior golfers have different handicaps than adult golfers. Scores can range from 30’s to 70’s for 9 holes and most junior golfers start from the women’s tees unless a golf course has specific tees for kid golfers.
As a junior golfer takes the game more serious and practices lots, it’s possible they could end up playing college golf on a scholarship.
College golfers are highly skilled golfers who can score in the 70’s and below.
Pro golfers are the best in the world. They have climbed the ranks by winning tournaments as amateurs and college golfers. Many pro golfers had to go through qualifying school to get their PGA Tour cards.
These golfers play the highest rated difficulty golf courses and still are able to score par or better for 18 holes. Achieving the #1 ranking in professional golf is a huge accomplishment placing the pro golfer as the best in the world at the sport.
Tiger Woods held the best professional golfer title for many years before his injuries set him back. You can see a list of current world pro golf rankings here.
Golf Practice System for Lower Scores
Learn the exact golf practice routines thousands of students at Foy Golf Academy are using to lower their golf scores.
Follow these step by step practice plans and watch video lessons to learn how to improve your golf swing, chipping, and putting fundamentals.
Get access to hundreds of golf drills to practice as well as content on the mental side of golf, fitness plans, worksheets, and many more resources. This is a complete golf practice system.
Nick Foy, Instructor