Don’t let Old Man Par push you around….push back!

by Jordan on July 9, 2011

Old Man Par would look like something like this if he was real

Par is what a scratch player is supposed to shoot.

Par has even evolved into a person.

Old Man Par is what he is known as.

Many golfers make a big mistake.

They focus too much on old man par.

Are you the same? Do you constantly judge your scores against old man par?

If so, read this post and I’ll explain why you should develop on your par.

Psychology of Par

A little over a year ago I had a conversation about Old Man Par with a couple of friends.

One plays on the Canadian Tour. The other is a weekend warrior who plays off an 8 handicap. We talked about what par means and our conversation was quite in depth.

The Canadian touring pro mentioned a Nationwide Tour event in New Zealand. There was a hole that was about 490 yards. On most courses holes that are shorter than 250 yards play as a par 3, holes ranging from 250 to 480 yards are par 4’s and anything over 480 yards is a par 5.

He was telling us how one year they played this particular hole as a par 5 and the average score on the hole for the week was 4.02. The next year the tournament committee decided to play the hole as a par 4. That year the scoring average went up to 4.8.

There was no difference in the way the hole played he said.

So why the big change in scoring?

After talking with fellow pro’s he discovered something very interesting.

He concluded that most players got tense. Playing the hole as a par 5 they didn’t want to hit a bad shot and make a bogey 5.

When it played as a par 5 the previous year the players just got up on the tee and swung freely. As a result they scored much better on the hole.

So by swinging freely the players actually scored lower because in their mind the hole was an easy par 5.

Par Is Irrelevant

For years now I believed that par on any golf course is irrelevant. The above example of the New Zealand Nationwide Tour event only strengthens the belief.

I came to this realization as a junior and by looking at the percentage of par putts I made versus birdie putts. A lot more par putts were falling because I was playing par. I didn’t want to lose a stroke, therefore I focused extra hard and that in turn helped me make lots of par putts.

When I had a birdie putt though my tendency was to be passive. I would think to myself “If I don’t make this it’s ok because I’m going to make par”.

I grinded harder over putts (par and bogey putts) where I could potentially lose a stroke as compared to putts (birdie putts) where I could potentially gain a stroke.

You could give me the exact same putt for birdie and my mindset changed.

I wasn’t putting all my energy into making the putt and was trying not to three putt. The result was a lower percentage of made putts due to tentative strokes.

I know I’m not alone.

Golfers become tentative and leave the putt short as they’re naturally defensive on the golf course.

Sound familiar? Rather than grinding and blocking out the what if’s if you miss a par or bogey putt you desperately want to make, you worry about the consequences and become content with 2 putting.

The killer instinct is lost but the putt hasn’t changed, merely the fictitious names of what call each putt. Birdie, par and bogey are useless! You should put all your effort into making the putt regardless of what it’s for.

Stripping away the terms is another principle here Peerless Golf. The easier I can make this game, the less cluttered your mind will be.

The Name of the Game

Over the next few rounds forget about what the par is on a hole

This will allow you to simply play the game. All the thoughts about what the putt is for and how many over you are don’t matter.

The object of this game is to get the ball in the hole in the least amount of strokes possible. When the drunk Scots invented this game that the was the object. And it hasn’t change all these years later.

That’s what your focus needs be on every hole regardless of what par is.

A few years ago I recall playing with a gentleman who wasn’t very long and could not reach most par 4 greens on his second shot.  On one par four he faced a second shot of over 200 yards. There was plenty of trouble around the green.

He made the decision to go for the green even though a great shot was required to reach the putting surface. His approach landed in a tough position short of the green. After the hole I asked him why he went for the green on the second shot.

“I wanted to try and get to the green so I could have a birdie putt” was his response.

Big mistake! Instead of playing the hole based on his own personal par, he let Old Man Par influence his course management.

I’m about to describe what personal par is and why you should have one. Tiger Woods had a personal par when he was growing up.

If it was something Tiger did, you should do it too.

Develop On Your Own Par For The Course

Here are a couple of ways to think about your new personal par.

For an entire round your personal par should be based around the course rating at your handicap. If the course is rated 71.4 and your handicap is 16, a good personal par for the day is 88. So instead of a par of 72 which is what someone deemed a good player should shot, you’re personal par is 88.

This makes breaking par more likely because in golf your handicap comes into play. Handicaps even the playing field as we play against each other.

You can set a personal par for individual holes if you really want to break it down. Take into account how well you’ve played the hole is the past, what the weather is like, how you are playing that day, where your confidence level is and how long the holes measures.

My goal by creating this thread is to completely strip par, bogey and birdie from your vocabulary and mind.

I am confident you’ll become a better golfer when you simplify things.

What Do You Think?

Does par often dictate how you play a hole or hit a shot?


Jordan J. Caron is a former Canadian PGA Class A member who still wants to help golfers shoot better scores. He is also the President of Meaningful Marketing. In his downtime he likes to read, play squash and drink wine.

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