What Is The Average Golf Score? (& How To Improve It)

Golf Scorecard
Contents

Golf is all about numbers. We spend so much time calculating our average distances, carry numbers on the course, approach shot distances, and of course, score.

Most golfers are always looking to improve their score by any means possible. From buying new clubs, practicing at home in the off season, getting lessons, and more. 

To help you stay motivated and progress, sometimes knowing the average golf score for players can help you out. But there’s a lot that goes into an average score which we’ll cover in this article. Plus, we’ll share seven easy ways to start shaving shots off your scorecard today. 

Average Golf Score by Age 

Chances are you’ve asked yourself, “What is the average score for 18 holes of golf?”

According to the USGA, the average handicap for men is 14.2, while the average handicap for women is 27.5. Most people assume that handicap equates to average score, so they think a 14.2 means about an 86 on a par 72 golf course for men and about 100 for women. But that’s the wrong way to think about it as handicaps take your best scores, not an average of all your scores.

Here’s how the USGA defines the calculation, “Once you have 20 scores in your scoring record, your Handicap Index is calculated by first averaging the best 8 Score Differentials™ out of your most recent 20 scores. This value may be adjusted due to built-in safeguards that are applied.”

This again is a very rough estimate of an 18 hole score for an average man and woman. 

Here are some other sources to provide better context around the average golf score.

This PGA.com sheds some more light on average score, “According to data from the National Golf Foundation, only 26 percent of all golfers shoot below 90 consistently on regulation 18-hole courses; 45 percent of all golfers average more than 100 strokes per round.”

Once age is factored into the equation, things change too. 

Average Golf Score by Age 

Age changes your ability to play golf but not quite in the way it does with other sports. For example, NFL players tend to peak in their mid-20s and some even retire by the time they’re 30 years old. While the NBA is a little older as they have longer careers on average.

But golfers are very different. Thankfully, you can play this sport at just about any age if your body and mind are up for the challenge. Most golfers tend to peak in their 30s but some might not until their 40s or 50s depending on when they started playing golf.

Some golfers start swinging a club before 10 years old, while others don’t pick it up until they retire. Needless to say, there are tons of factors on how your age impacts your score. Some of them include health, flexibility, frequency of rounds, practice time, lessons, and more. 

Here are our best guesses for score based on age for the average player of 14.2 handicap: 

  • Teenage or younger: 120+ 
  • 20-30 years old: 80-100 
  • 30-40 years old: 85-100 
  • 40-50 years old: 90-100
  • 50-60 years old: 95-100+
  • 60-70 years old: 100+ 
  • 70+ years old: 100+ 

Again, this is an educated guess based on a recreational male golfer. There are tons of exceptions as I’ve played with senior golfers who can still shoot their age! 

While these statistics are helpful, it’s important to note that this is only a fraction of the golfing population that actually log their scores and handicap. There’s a huge amount of players who play more recreationally and don’t abide by the rules (like making every putt) or log their scores. 

How to Improve Your Golf Score 

Now that you have a better understanding about the average golf score by age, let’s get into some easy ways to improve.  

1. Reset Expectations

These PGA Tour statistics from the 2021 PGA Tour season will surprise you: 

  • Fairways hit: 60.69% 
  • Greens in regulation: 65.14% 
  • Proximity to the hole from fairway: 37’ 11” 
  • Sand save percentage: 50.05%  
  • Putts per round: 29.01 

I share these with you to give you some context that what you see on TV is usually the best of the best. We don’t get to see the “average” shots too often and it’s easy to skew your view and set unrealistic expectations for your golf game. 

Expect a little less and watch your scores drop quickly. Because when you don’t expect to hit every fairway, every green, and drain every putt, you will likely play better as a result. 

Also Read: Best Straightest Golf Balls

2. Improve Driving Distance

One of the fastest ways to improve your average score on the golf course is to hit it longer off the tee. Even if you’re not always straight (remember the PGA Tour average is only 6/10 fairways), a shorter approach shot makes it easier to score better.

Check out these two articles to help you increase driving distance: 

3. Improve Your Fundamentals

No matter your age or experience, you can’t master the fundamentals of golf enough. Specifically, spend time during each practice session working on things like grip, posture, stance, and takeaway

The more you can master the basics, the more consistent you will be on the golf course. 

4. Add More Forgiving Clubs

If you’re scoring in the 90s now and want to shoot lower scores fast, play more forgiving equipment. Too many golfers play hard to hit long irons instead of fairway woods and hybrids (or even utility irons). 

Don’t make a hard sport even more difficult! 

5. Upgrade Your Mental Game 

Golf is such a challenging sport regardless of age or experience because of the mental hurdles you must overcome. Since you’re out on the golf course for hours with your thoughts, it’s vital to make them work in your favor instead of against you. 

There are a lot of ways to improve your mental game but here are three things you can start doing during your next round:

  • Keep breathing. When you’re nervous over a shot or about the upcoming round, it’s easy to accidentally change your breathing patterns with shallow breaths. This unintentionally signals “danger” to your brain and raises adrenaline and has other negative effects on the body. When you’re on the golf course, keep breathing to stay relaxed and reduce tension in your swing. 
  • Walk and stand tall. Hitting bad shots is part of golf but how you react is a choice. To upgrade your mental game, signal strength and confidence to your mind with positive body language. Walk and stand tall with your chest and eyes up to stay optimistic about the round and your abilities. 
  • Only speak positively about yourself. Once you reset your expectations (tip #1), this will feel easier as you don’t expect so much from your golf game. Then, make it a goal to only say things about yourself and your game that you would say to other players.  

6. Focus on Your Short Game

Your short game is one of the easiest ways to play better golf. Spend more time on chipping, putting, and sand shots to watch your scores drop quickly. 

Make sure to read this article for even more short game tips. 

7. Play More Golf 

I’ve been a student of the game for several decades and one thing I see too often is players hitting range vs. playing golf. So many of us think we need to “grind it out” on the driving range to be a consistent player. Don’t get me wrong, developing a technically sound swing is important, it doesn’t guarantee low scores on the course.

If you’re someone who always hits golf balls on the range but rarely plays, I suggest mixing it up. Get out on the course more often so you can improve your golf IQ, learn more about your swing on the course, and get into more pressure situations.

Plus, when you play golf more regularly, you will learn your weakness faster so you can make each practice session 10X more effective. 

Top Questions 

If you have more questions about the average score and ways to improve, make sure to read our top questions and answers below.

What is a good golf scoring average?

What makes golf such an addicting and enjoyable sport is that the quest for greatness never ends. Whether you’re breaking 100 now or breaking par, chances are you want to keep getting better. Plus, it’s easier to play better at an older age thanks to new equipment, new fitness routines, and other techniques.

Is 85 a good score in golf?

A score of 85 on a traditional par 72 golf course is better than average for most golfers. But don’t forget that age, gender, and experience all play other factors too. 

For example, if you’re a five handicap, an 85 means a bad day on the golf course. However, if you’re a 20 handicap, then an 85 is a phenomenal day on the links. It’s important to always consider your game, health, handicap, and other factors when thinking about your total score. 

Is a score of 70 in golf good?

A 70 isn’t just good, it’s a great golf score. Since the average full-size golf course is a par 72, a score of 70 represents -2. Anytime you break par, it’s usually a great day! Since most golfers never break par on a regulation size championship golf course, this is an incredible feat and one you’ll likely remember for years to come. 

Whenever you shoot a 70 (or career best), make sure to save the ball and write the date/course to commemorate the day. If you’re an avid golf fan, it’s not a bad idea to buy a collector case too so it’s easy to store your keepsake golf balls. 

What is Tiger Woods Scoring average? 

Tiger’s had a long career but the 2000 season was his best as he averaged a 67.79 according to Bleacher Report. While his scoring average is impressive, I think there are two more stats that are even more incredible; cuts made and winning percentage

For most professionals, making cuts is no easy feat on the PGA Tour but Tiger made it look routine. We never wondered if he would be around on the weekend as he made an impressive 142 cuts from 1998 to 2005. Seven years without missing a cut! 

Since Tiger was around seemingly every weekend while in his prime, he also won an astonishing amount too. As most of us know, golf is a game where you win far less often than any other sport… unless you’re Tiger Woods. His winning percentage in his career was an incredible 22.9% according to Essentially Sports

About one out of every five events when he teed it up, he would walk away with the trophy. The next closest player isn’t even half that amount. 

What percent of golfers can break 90? 

According to the National Golf Foundation numbers above, only 26% of players regularly break 90. The same study found that it’s more common to shoot over 100 than it is to break 90. 

Wrapping Up

While I hope you found these stats beneficial, remember that you shouldn’t compare yourself to anyone but your former self. The only golfer you need to beat is the golfer you were yesterday. 

Sure, it’s nice to say you have a better scoring average than most golfers your age, pursuing your potential is a greater goal. Make sure to track your statistics and create a handicap so you can measure your progress over time.  

In my experience playing this game, most golfers are capable of much more than they think is possible. Set goals that excite you and keep you motivated to practice regularly. 

I’m confident that the tips above will help and make sure to check out our game tips to learn more ways to shoot lower scores.

What’s your scoring average right now? Do you have a goal score that you’re actively working towards?

Let us know in the comments below. 

Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard is a full-time writer, author, creator of Wicked Smart Golf and +1 handicap amateur golfer. He left his corporate, national sales career in 2017 to pursue entrepreneurship and professional golf; since then, he’s competed in 160+ tournament days and went to Q-school in 2019.

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