What Is A Good Golf Score For 9 Holes?

How did you play today?

To a golfer, that question can be answered in numerous ways and can either elicit sheer joy or absolute misery!

When you consider how you play and the personal expectations you place on yourself, have you stopped to consider what is a good golf score for 9 holes or 18 holes?

It’s not that easy a question to answer.

Let’s take a look at what is a good golf score for 9 holes and which factors can go into making a good score for 9 holes.

What’s interesting is that there are some factors you can control and others you simply can’t do anything about.

For the ones that you can’t do anything about, don’t see them as an opportunity to make an excuse if you didn’t play well – things happen, it’s golf, and as we all know about our beloved sport, nothing is ever perfect in golf!

In this article, we will cover:

  • Why 9 Holes And Not 18?
  • What Is A Good Golf Score For 9 Holes With A Handicap
  • Weather Considerations
  • Golf Game On The Day
  • The “Unexpected” 9 Holes

Let’s jump into it!

man and boy on a golf course high five after answering what is a good golf score for 9 holes!

Why 9 Holes and not 18?

First off, 9 holes; why just 9 holes and not 18?

18 holes of golf can take a long time, and for some that just can’t commit that time, 9 holes is easier to manage.

There are also those golden opportunities when we maybe finish work early and have no family or friends commitments where the thought instinctively turns to:

“I’ve got enough time to squeeze in a quick 9 holes”

We’ll cover this idea more later, but I’m pretty sure that most readers will have had this situation at least once in their golfing life and not felt remotely guilty about sneaking off for a “quick 9”.

But let’s deal with the serious stuff first of all.

What is a good golf score for 9 holes with a handicap

Man wearing a white polo and a white cap swings a golf club at golf ball on a sunny day.

When you look at a scorecard for the 9 holes you want to play, you will see the par rating.

9 holes will generally offer up a total par of between 34 and 36.

The 9 holes will be comprised of a number of par 3s, 4s, and 5s to make up its total par.

Worldwide, the average handicap for males is 14 and for females 27.

For our 9 holes of golf, those handicaps would be divided by 2 – 7 for the male and 13.5 for the female.

If the 9 holes these golfers are playing has a par of 35, the male golfer would be expected to shoot 42 for his handicap and the female 49 (handicap rounded up to 14).

What would constitute a good golf score for 9 holes is if either of these golfers shot a lower-than-expected score for those 9 holes meaning that each would have played below their handicaps.

Doing this consistently would see each golfer’s handicap start to come down.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you are a scratch golfer, the expectation would be that you would shoot a score of 35 for the same 9 holes.

Man wearing blue top and a golf glove writes down golf score with an orange pen.

Out of curiosity, the lowest score ever recorded for 9 holes of golf is a staggering 26 shots.

The score was recorded by American golfer Corey Pavin in the first round of the 2006 U.S. Bank Championship on the PGA Tour in 2006.

The par for the first 9 holes was 34, and Pavin shot 8 under by birdieing the first 8 holes to shoot the record 26.

We can see that for the vast majority of golfers, the handicap system helps to provide realistic expectations of what each player can shoot for 9 holes and what a good golf score is for 9 holes.

But there are other considerations that can’t be ignored in what would be deemed a good score 9 holes.

Weather considerations

It’s amazing how golfers don’t always consider weather conditions when they analyze if they had a 9-hole score to be proud of.

The obvious scenario is when the weather is bad.

You have to be ultra-realistic about what a good score is when the weather is less than perfect.

Yellow golf flag with the number four on it blows in the wind.

#1: Windy Weather

Let’s take the scenario where it’s really windy.

Of our 9 holes, 5 of those holes are into the wind.

How do we tackle that? Well, if the wind is really strong, making no worse than a bogey might feel like making a par.

That might seem slightly counter-intuitive, but let’s take a scenario where one of those holes is, say, a 450-yard par 4.

Under normal circumstances, making a par, there would be a great achievement.

If it’s into the wind, all of a sudden, it’s not really a par 4 – realistically, it’s a par 5.

Many a golfer falls fowl trying to chase making a 4, getting into real trouble, and making a big number – scorecard ruined!

#2: Wet Weather

One that a lot of golfers will be familiar with.

Wet weather means that we have to put on extra layers or some kind of waterproof clothing to help keep us dry.

Red and yellow golf flag stands in the rain with trees in the background.

Even though modern clothing has design features that keep them light as possible and provide freedom to swing the golf club it doesn’t help how we should tackle the course.

When the weather is wet, the ball won’t fly as far, so clubbing each shot becomes vitally important.

Drives won’t run as far because the fairways are wet, and if you hit it in the rough off the tee, it will be harder to extricate it out.

Approach shots to greens are all about carry because, again, the ball won’t release onto the green, and when on the green, putts will have less break and be slower than normal due to surface water.

This makes scoring tough.

The longer holes will play long, but there are opportunities to capitalize on shorter holes.

As we saw with our golfers above, the handicap system works well when conditions are bad – for our male golfer shooting 7 over par for 9 holes is respectable and means he’s playing to his handicap.

For the female golfer, she can shoot 14 over par for her 9 holes and still be playing to her handicap.

#3: Cold Weather

Red golf flag sits on a snowy golf course in winter.

Presents some of the same challenges as wet weather because of the additional layers we have to wear in order to keep warm.

The ball is also less likely to travel far in these conditions, so we must carefully consider choosing the right club for the shot.

Some courses will allow play in frosty conditions where the ground could be hard, so you have to factor in big bounces and maybe land the ball well short of the green in anticipating big bounces.

Temporary greens can also make scoring difficult as these will not be finished to the same standard as the normal greens making chipping and putting tricky.

In summary, when the weather is not ideal, we can still obviously play golf, but we have to manage expectations given the conditions we face.

What is a good golf score for 9 holes in bad conditions could be as simple as making no worse than a bogey on each hole.

You also have to remember that the conditions are the same for everybody and therefore they will face the same challenges you are.

Golf game on the day

Golf is a fickle game.

Even professionals can lack consistency and have to “manage” their games.

Man wearing a white top swings golf club while 3 friends watch from behind.

If you’ve had an opportunity to hit a few balls before playing and that didn’t go particularly well, then it’s time to think about how to tackle the course.

Maybe if the driver was misbehaving, then using a 3-wood might be the safer option to keep the ball in play.

Doing this might alter the way you see what a good score looks like because you might sacrifice some distance off the tee by not hitting the driver but stand a better chance of not running up big scores.

Setting a target

Another effective way to gauge what is a good golf score for 9 holes is if you achieve or exceed a target you personally set for yourself before you tee it up.

Targets might include:

  • Try and make X number of pars for the 9 holes
  • Try and par all the par 3s on the 9 holes you’re playing
  • Hit X number of greens in regulation
  • Don’t three-putt 
  • Hit X number of fairways off the tee

This list can be personalized to whatever you want it to be, but if you achieve or exceed your target, the chances are you have played your 9 holes well.

Man wearing blue and woman wearing pink stand by golf cart on a golf course.

The “unexpected” 9 holes

There are windows of opportunities that can arise where a window of free time pops up, and you ask yourself the question – “Have I got time to squeeze a quick 9 holes in?”

As golfers all know – that is a very alluring question!

The very fact that you can sneak out and play 9 holes almost gives you free rein to decide what you want to achieve for the 9 holes you play. 

There are many different ways to answer what a good golf score for 9 holes is.

As we have discussed, you can focus on the following: 

  • Improving your handicap
  • Coping with bad weather conditions
  • Setting a specific target

What is certain is that playing 9 holes of golf can mean lots of different things to different people.

Next time you get the opportunity to play 9 holes, take a moment to properly assess what the conditions are like and adapt accordingly to what you are looking to achieve for the day.

If you want to improve your score, check out:

Photo of author
Golf has been a passion of mine for over 30 years. It has brought me many special moments including being able to turn professional. Helping people learn to play this great game was a real highlight especially when they made solid contact with the ball and they saw it fly far and straight! Injury meant I couldn't continue with my professional training but once fully fit I was able to work on and keep my handicap in low single figures representing my golf club in local and regional events. Being able to combine golf with writing is something I truly enjoy. Helping other people learn more about golf or be inspired to take up the game is something very special.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.