If Tiger, Phil, or any other pro makes an 8 (a snowman) on any hole, that is terrible. Your average score on a par 5 is 7 or more right now. For a golf beginner an 8 is really no big deal. 10 is the score you should avoid. The difference is a pro is trying to break 70 and you are trying to break 100. Don’t let par, Tiger, or your buddy set your goals.
To break 70 on a par 72 course Tiger needs 3 birdies and 15 pars. He plans his rounds thinking about which holes he can birdie. Do you plan your rounds thinking about what score on each hole is reasonable and achievable for you?
To score 99 on a par 72 course you must average 5½ shots on every hole. Somebody is asking themselves: “How do I score ½ of a stroke on any hole?” Obviously you don’t! On the first par 4 you score a 5 and on the next par 4 you score a 6. The average is 5½.
On the first par 5 you score a 6 and on the next part 5 you score a 7. On the first par 3 you score a 4 and on the next par 3 you score a 5. The average of all that is 5½. (6+7+4+5=22 and 22/4=5½)
To break 100 you must average bogey and ½ stokes per hole. To break 90 you must average bogey. If you don’t believe me, do the math. Now you understand the math, but what is the plan?
First, improve your skills. Don’t bother setting goals in a skill based activity unless you intend to improve. A goal doesn’t make putts or hit straight drives.
Second, set your next goal within sight of your present skill level. If your average score is 120 then aim at double bogey per hole (108). As you practice and improve one or two parts of your game you will find those 12 strokes. You can’t get to 90 or 100 strokes until you get past 110.
Third, ask yourself what is par really worth? Par is an estimate of what a scratch golfer should score on a hole or total for the entire course. Tiger’s par is really 68 or less and mine is around 90. If your par is around double bogey then add two strokes to the listed par for a hole. Now you have a reasonable target for your own performance.
Finally, what happens when you do score a snowman? There is no punishment beyond personal disappointment. Tiger makes bogey sometimes, he just needs to shoot one more birdie to make his goal. You need to score more bogeys and fewer double bogeys on the remaining holes.
At this point in time you probably struggle more on par 5’s than anywhere else. That is normal! To reach a par 5 requires 3 accurate shots in a row. Can you really do that right now? To reach a par 3 requires 1 accurate shot. You will probably loose strokes on par 5’s and make them up on short par 4’s and par 3’s. That is part of your plan. Remember pros love par 5’s but they kill us.
Learn to play golf with joy. You may never hit a drive 300 yards, but you can measure your own progress. Set reasonable goals and then practice to improve your skills. Measure your game against your own growing skills not what you see professionals do on Sunday. Remember you aren’t just an amateur, you are a beginner. Relax and enjoy every round.