What Does It Matter What They Call Par?

Many golfers seem upset that the 18th hole at Chambers Bay is sometimes being called a par four hole, instead of par five, as it is for today's round. And the TV commentators are giving this very serious consideration.

This makes a difference as to whether one's score is called, say, one under par, or two under par. But it doesn't change your score: if you recorded a 271 for the tournament, you recorded a 271. And if someone else scored 272, you beat them. And if they scored 270, they beat you.

The announcers seem to think what the hole is called will help determine whether or not some possible leader will "play it safe" on their final hole. But, but... no!

If someone is in the clubhouse at 270, and you are at 265 through 17, you'd better score four or less on 18 if you want to win outright. And if you are at 264, you can play it safe and take five strokes. Whether they call the hole par 4 or par 5.

"Par" is a fine way of keeping track of where players are in a round, when everyone is on different holes. But what par value you assign to particular holes makes no difference whatsoever to who is the final champion,  unless some player loses because he got so worked up about a name.

Look at it this way: they could call every hole for player A a par 1, and every hole for player B a par 10, and so long as the players did not let this "unfairness" affect their play, it would not make any difference as to who wins. Player A, at a 200-over-par 272, would beat player B, who scored a 440-under-par 280.


  1. Sportscasters play the same role in our society as Twitter: idiot bait.


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