The Golf World has lost a legend today

by Jordan on September 3, 2011

RIP Old Man Par

And I was the murderer!

It had to be done and I did it for you so you can let go and play better golf!

Ok, ok, no golf legend has died.

But I had to do something to get your attention and if you’ve clicked on this link then it’s worked!

This post is for all the golfers out there who want to improve.

And which golfer doesn’t want to improve?

Read on as I’ll explain why you should abandon par from now on.

Old Man Par

Old man par is detrimental to everyone’s game.

Why? When the Scots were drunk and invented this game, it was all about getting a little white ball in a round cup some 200+ yards away in the least amount of strokes possible.

Nothing has changed!

But Old Man par came along and made this game seem tougher than it actually is. Let me explain why.

A couple of months back I created this post over at about par and why I believe he’s irrelevant and detrimental to golfers.

Here are some of the interesting replies I got.

Derek from over at 72 Strokes tells us where par came from and hints to the reason why it’s irrelevant.

Everybody’s obsession with par, IMO, dates back to the 1960 Masters and Frank Chirkinian’s creation of the +/- scoring system for TV.

Prior to that, nobody really cared what “par” was. If you shot 74, it was thought of as 74, not +2. It only mattered what you shot relative to your opponents, not an arbitrary “par”.

+/- scoring is certainly more exciting and easier to follow for spectator during a tournament. But it’s probably better mentally to just play the round without worrying about par/bogey/birdie. I know in my best rounds I couldn’t tell you what my score is until I add it up after the round.”

Par is only relevant for players and viewers of televised golf and apparently has been around since the 1890’s. It’s an easy way for us to see updates of where golfers scores stand against each other.

Televised golf with par and +/- scoring would be odd as J Jack points out.

I can hear Renton Laidlaw saying “he shot 280 and won” – the over/under par thing is our invention.

But there is a relevant point here somewhere: why is a 500-yard par 4 a bogey hole but a 510-yard par 5 a birdie hole?

Here’s why a 500 yard 4 plays tougher than a 510 yard par 5.

I will talk about the relevant point he mentioned in a few minutes.

Don’t Trust Old Man Par

Deep down I hope you don’t trust Old Man Par as a guide. He’s slimey and two faced!

Especially when you’re standing over a shot or walking down the fairway. Constantly thinking about where you stand to him only hurts you.

Again the object of the game is simple, get the ball in the hole anyway you can (within the rules of golf of course) in the least amount of strokes of possible!

Any thoughts about where you stand to par are detrimental.

Why? Because you’re not in the present moment and are thinking too much about score. This is holding on rather than letting go. Let go of all thoughts and free your mind from how many over par you are.

Play the game!

It’s one of the main coaching principles of the Peerless Golf. Thinking about what you’re doing against Old Man Par works negatively in two ways.

Stay In The Present Moment

Let’s look at par for the entire round first.

By keeping score against par you are setting yourself up for failure regardless if your playing good or bad. If you’ve got a great round going or one the really sucks, thinking about your score and all the possibilities takes you away from the present moment.

Rather than simply hitting a golf shot, you’re thinking about the particular circumstances and outcomes of that shot. Your mind get’s lost in thought and leaves the present moment. Being aware of what your mind is thinking and why it’s thinking a certain way is another Peerless Golf coaching principle.

Thoughts like this take you out the present moment.

  • “I need to play the last 5 holes 2 over for my career round”
  • “I’m 10 over par already and I’ve only played 6 holes”
  • “I’mI’m going to shot 92 at this pace” take you out of the moment.

Your mind has outraced you to and is in no man’s land which isn’t doing you any good.

Stay present and free of your battle with Old Man Par.

Now let me talk about par for an individual hole.

A great example of how Old Man Par is pushing you around on each hole is this second key reply from by larrybud at golfwrx.

I agree in theory with what the Jordan is saying. Par definitely brings a more mental aspect to the game than necessary. As someone else said, you walk up to a 470 par 4 and it’s a “difficult par”. Walk up to a 470 yard par 5, and it’s “an easy birdie”.

How many times have you thought the same thing larrybud talked about?

My hand is raised because I’ve had those thoughts, many a time actually and it’s a product of Old Man Par trying to give you a couple of cheap shot jabs.

I warned you!

He plays played the game dirty but no more now that he’s not around.

Here’s a real life example of what larrybud mentioned.

It comes from Victoria Golf Club where I played for 10 years.  Hole 11 is a par 4 playing about 465 or so from the back tees.

#11 At Victoria Golf Club – A long par 4 with a wide fairway and large green

Despite having a relatively flat green that receives approach shots from a large fairway, it’s average score is higher than the par 5 17th hole which is the exact same distance. 

In fact the 17th is a much tighter driving hole and has a smaller green that is heavily guarded by bunkers.

Again the average score regardless of par is higher on #11.

A tight driving area and a sloped narrow green make for a lower scoring average on 17 than 11

I’ve observed, talked with and listened to various golfers from all different backgrounds about these two holes.  The general thought process was the one that larrybud refers too.

The short and “easy” (compared to other par 5’s) par 5 17th hole allows people to swing freely because it’s an “easy” par 5. The long and “tough” (compared to other par 4’s) par 4 11th wreaks havoc on players mental games because it was deemed “tough” as as par 4.

Players have made up there mind well before they’d teed of if the hole is easy or tough.

When you think the hole is tough, more often then not your hit a poor tee shot because you tense up. In a way it’s like raising the white flag before you’ve even teed of.

On the other side, if you think a hole is easy, you swing more freely.

It’s another case of Old Man Par effecting your thoughts.

His Spirit Might Linger

Even though Old Man Par is no longer, his spirit may haunt you every once in a while. Even after taking my advice. If that’s the case and you don’t think you’ll be able shed his spirit, you should read my post on how to create your own a personal par.

You can also read this last reply in my golfwrx post from youngstrurctual for another way to create a personal par.

“I like using a course handicap system to establish my ‘par’.

Say if I’m playing at course X with a slope of 124. I take my handicap 12.7 and multiply by the slope of the course, normalized by the average slope rating (113) …. 12.7 * 124 / 113 …. what that does is give a number called course handicap. Therefore on course X, I would recive 13.79 strokes. So a 72 + 14 = 86. Therefore, I feel like I should shoot an 86 there, any better then I did better then ‘par’ , any worse, and I’m over par.

One day I will use 72 as my goal, but unitl i’m well into the single digits, I prefer to use this method.…lator/index.asp

My overall goal is to completely free your mind from how you’re playing relative to any par and simply stay present. Staying present will keep your mind free of cluttered thoughts about how you’re playing.  Just remember, the object of the game is to get the ball in hole using very few strokes!

Until next time don’t let Old Man Par push you around. But I guess he can’t anymore because I took care of him! Rest in peace Old Man Par on behalf of all the golfers out there!

Be sure to follow my rss feed for more online golf coaching tips.

What Do You Think?

Have you found your thoughts effected by par on a hole or for the course?


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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