What Is A Good Golf Score?

When rating golf scores, I think of four distinct categories scores can fall into. The four categories are: Below Average, Average, Good and Great. In this article, I’ll discuss what constitutes a “Good” golf score.

A “Good” golf score is when a golfer shoots right around 90 for 18 holes. This means the golfer averages a bogey per hole. It’s unlikely a golfer will go out and bogey every hole. Expect a double bogey or two, throw in a few pars and perhaps even a birdie. With all that said, the score will average itself out in the end to finish on a score of 18 over par which translates to a 90.

Why Is 90 A Good Score?

If a golfer shoots a 90, they are playing better than 74% of golfers according to the National Golf Foundation. This is a stat which bears repeating. Only 26% of golfers shoot below 90 on a consistent basis. If this doesn’t answer the question of “What is a good golf score?”, then I don’t know what will.

I’ve always thought of someone shooting a 90 as a competent golfer. This was the case when I was shooting in the 100’s and is the case now while I shoot in the 80’s. This type of golfer typically takes the game seriously. By seriously, I mean probably plays at least once a week, hits the range when possible and likely thinks about the game while away from the course.

A score of 90 may not sound like the most glorious of scores, but, like the above statistic demonstrates, the majority of golfers aren’t achieving it. A golfer who can consistently score around 90 usually does at least one aspect of the game pretty well. It could be rarely missing a fairway, hitting a large percentage of the greens, chipping it close more times than not or being rock solid with the putter.

We all know how easy it is to wreck a scorecard. Finishing with a score of 90 could become a distant memory by having a few “blow-up” holes in a row. Most golfers can’t fake their way around the course to finish with a score of 90. Good solid golf must be played.

How To Break 90 In Golf

The beauty of playing golf is the ability to “swing your swing”. There is no one size fits all golf swing. We all do it a little different. However, when it comes to scoring in golf, and in this case shooting or breaking 90, following some general guidelines is the way to go. I’ll detail a list of my most important “breaking 90” guidelines below.

  1. Keep the ball in play off the tee! Distance is nice but accuracy trumps all in this case. Losing a ball off the tee is a surefire way to come out of the hole with a double bogey or worse. My absolute worst rounds come when I lose multiple tee balls throughout a round. I’m sure this is the case for the majority. We can all tell pretty early in the round when it’s not going to be our best day with the driver. When this is the case, keep it in the bag. Hit a fairway wood or my preferred route of a hybrid off the tee. Even if the tee shot ends up 50 yards shorter and in the rough, we are still in play and not taking a penalty drop. Keep the ego in check.
  2. Take your medicine. Look, this is golf. Bad shots are a part of it, plain and simple. When you do find yourself in a precarious situation, play the smart golf shot. If the tee shot found the woods and there is no clear path to the green, punch out and go from there. If a hazard carry is too long for you, lay it up even if it’s a par 4. Achieving a score of 90 doesn’t require hero golf. Remember, bogeys aren’t the enemy here. It’s the doubles, triples, etc which we need to keep off the card.
  3. Replace at least one long iron with a hybrid. Let’s be honest. Long irons are difficult to hit. Not just for us higher handicappers either. The single digit handicaps and even the professionals at this point are placing hybrids in the bag. Striping a 3 hybrid may not have the same “cool” factor as striping a 3 iron but who cares? Are we trying to look cool or play good golf? Hybrids are MUCH easier to hit than long irons. Period. I said it before and I’ll say it again…keep the ego in check.
  4. Chip with the same club all the time. I don’t care if it’s the 60, 56, 52 or PW, choose the one you’re most comfortable with and stick with it. If you choose the PW or another lower lofted club, only bring out the 60 in cases where a high carry is required. Switching between chipping clubs on a shot by shot basis will lead to nothing but bad chip shots. By using the same club for the majority of chip shots, you’ll develop a feel for how the ball will react off the club face and also how it will react once it hits the green. One of the worst feelings in golf is when the ball checks up quickly on the green when trying to play a bump and run shot. Find your favorite club to chip with and stick with it.
  5. Practice lag putting. It’s number 5 in my list but it’s certainly as important as keeping the ball in play off the tee. We use the putter more than any other club in the bag during a round of golf. Unfortunately, for most of us, we rarely practice putting. I mentioned how annoying it can be to misjudge chip shots but 3-putting from 25 feet consistently takes the cake for me. The term “throwing away strokes” has never been more spot on. Even PGA Tour pros are more likely to 3-putt from 36 feet than make it. For amateurs like us, it’s probably only 18 feet when we’re more likely to 3-putt than make. Trust me, when you’re able to lag long putts into a 3-4 foot radius instead of a 6-7 foot radius on a regular basis, the strokes will have no choice but to fall off the score.

What Is A Good Score For 9 Holes?

If 90 is a good golf score for 18 holes, then 45 would be a good score for 9 holes. However, shooting a score of 45 for a 9 hole round could prove to be the more difficult task. At least when playing a full 18 hole round, a margin for error exists if you happen to have a bad front 9. There are still 9 holes remaining on the back to remedy the score. Take my last round for example. I shot a 48 on the front 9 and a 41 on the back 9 for an overall score of 89. I was able to play better on the back 9 to salvage a score. If I was only playing 9 holes that day, I would’ve had to settle for a 48 and dinner might not of tasted as good. Just something to keep in mind when playing 9 hole rounds. Be prepared to come out firing on all cylinders, both mentally and physically, as a couple wayward tee shots or bad decisions could end the chance of shooting a 45 very quickly.

Final Thoughts

For an amateur, shooting a score of 90 over 18 holes is absolutely a good golf score and should not be scoffed at. As I mentioned earlier and it bears repeating, consistently shooting 90 or below places you in the top 26% of all golfers in the country. Not bad for a “Bogey Golfer”!


Just a bogey golfer who plays off scratch in his mind. Golf is my passion, and the goal is to transfer that passion to each person who visits Rather Be Golfing.

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