What does an average golfer look like? They probably don’t have a perfect golf swing like Adam Scott, but what is their average golf score?
One of the great things about golf is the numbers don’t lie. You can measure yourself against other players from across the world.
Any two players can compete if they have a golf handicap, but this is just one way to compare golfers.
You can also look at swing speed, # of greens in regulation, or # of putts per round. There are many ways to assess your level of play.
Today, we are going to focus on average golf scores. Nice and simple, what do golfers shoot?
4 Factors That Impact The Average Golf Score
Many different things can impact what a golfer shoots, but when looking at average golf scores we have identified 4 key factors.
Mother Nature plays a significant role in your round of golf and what you shoot.
Let’s start with temperature. Did you know that your golf ball will travel further when it is warm? It is also easier to get your body ready to swing when the temperature is higher.
If it is raining you either need to learn how to handle it, or cancel your tee time and stay home!
The most challenging weather condition is wind. Gusty conditions will increase the average golf score.
Looking to shoot the best possible score? Hope for a warm, dry day with no wind!
#2: Difficulty Of The Course
Not all golf courses are the same. Thick rough, hazards (penalty areas), and out-of-bounds stakes all make the course harder.
Length will also increase the average golf score. Golf courses have several different tee markers and the tee you decide to play will impact your score.
The good news is that you can learn the difficulty of the golf course before you make a tee time. Pull up the scorecard on their website.
You are looking for two pieces of information. The course rating and the slope. These numbers are used in the golf handicap system and measure the difficulty of the course.
Each tee box (length) is rated separately. Course rating will typically be between 65 and 75. The slope will be between 55 and 155.
The higher these numbers the harder the golf course will be and the higher the average golf scores.
#3: Casual or Competition
There is something different about playing in a tournament versus a casual round with your buddies.
We have no doubt that the nerves that come with competitive golf will increase the average golf score.
The ability to execute under pressure is what separates great players for weekend warriors.
Do you want to test your game? Sign up for your club championship or local tournament and see how your swing holds up!
Your average golf score may increase the first few times you play competitive golf, but you will get more comfortable the more times you do it.
#4: Do You Play By The Rules?
We aren’t saying you cheat, but do you play by the official rules of golf? Here are some examples to consider.
- Do you ever hit a mulligan after a bad shot?
- How do you handle a lost ball? Do you drop another or do you return to the tee and replay (stroke & distance)?
- Do you play by the official out-of-bounds rule, or do you simply drop a ball where it crossed the stakes?
- Do you and your playing partners give each other “gimmes” on the greens?
- Do you play a maximum score on each hole or do you keep playing until you finish?
Again, we aren’t trying to shame you. In fact, we don’t think casual rounds of golf need to be played under the official rules.
Your pace of play will be better, but this will make your average golf score lower. It is a factor you need to consider.
Any feedback? Do you have a factor that impacts the average golf score that we didn’t include?
Up next, let’s look at some different numbers!
The Average Golf Score for 9-Hole and 18-Hole Rounds (By Golf Handicap)
When looking for average golf scores you always need to consider the dataset you are using. We will look at this in a couple of different ways.
Let’s start with using the Golf Handicap statistics from the USGA (United States Golf Association).
Using this data, we know that the average handicap index for men is 14.2. Using this number, we can extrapolate that the average golf score for 9 holes is between 43-44.
The same method would tell us that the average 18-hole round for men is between 87-89. If you can break 90 you are slightly above average!
Now, what about the ladies? The average handicap index for women is 27.5. This means the average golf score for 9 holes is ~50 and for 18 holes, 100.
If the female golfer in your life can break 100, she is above average!
The Average Golf Score for 9-Hole and 18-Hole Rounds (Including Casual Golfers)
We love using the golf handicap data, but there is a flaw. It is estimated that only 10% of golfers maintain a golf handicap.
This 10% is made up of players that play frequently and take their golf games seriously, but there are plenty of golfers that enjoy the game without a handicap.
The challenge – how do you factor these players into the average golf score? Many of them are good players, so you can’t assume they are all below average.
When you include casual golfers this activity becomes more of an art than a science. We will take a shot and go with the following:
- 9-hole men’s average golf score: 45-47
- 18-hole men’s average golf score: 90-95
- 9-hole women’s average golf score: 50-53
- 18-hole women’s average golf score: 100-106
You can use these numbers when building your golf improvement plan. You can establish a goal to become an above-average golfer.
Average Golf Score By Age
Does your age impact your average golf score? Does the experience of an older player outweigh the physical advantages of younger golfers?
An interesting topic to explore.
What is your assumption going in? Would you expect younger golfers to be better or players that have been playing for years?
The answer is a bit surprising. Age is not a huge differentiator when you look at the average golf score for 18 holes:
- Age 20-30: 90
- Age 30-40: 92
- Age 40-50: 92
- Age 50-60: 91
- Age 60-70: 91
- Age 70+: 93
Yes, the average golf score is a bit lower for younger players and higher for players once they reach 70 years old, but overall the numbers are very consistent.
One reason you might see a dip in scores at age 50 is that this is the normal range when men start to play the senior tees.
Shorter tees for players that can still hit the ball far will produce lower scores. Based on the data, age 70 is when players may start to decline.
Averages Are Just Averages
It can be fun to compare your game to the average players but don’t get too focused on the numbers.
Every golfer you meet is potential an outlier. They have all different levels of play and different skills.
For example, never make an assumption based on the average golf score. This is a quick way to make a bad wager and lose some money!
We don’t care if you are above or below average, just find a way to enjoy your time on the golf course!