What Are Bogey Competitions In Golf?

Bogey competitions, which date from 1891, bring some of the features of match play into a strokeplay competition

lost ball bogey competitions
One of the advantages of bogey competitions is that you can simply abandon a hole when the going gets too rough
(Image credit: Getty Images)

What are bogey competitions in golf?

Bogey competitions are a way of playing against the course in a form of matchplay. The course scores bogey on each hole. (This is bogey in the traditional golf meaning as in the score that a good golfer might be expected to make on a hole, not the modern version of one over par.)

Normally the bogey score on a hole is the same as the par score, but in roughly half a dozen holes in an 18-hole round it is likely to be a shot higher than par. As few courses these days have a bogey score listed for each hole, bogey competitions can also be played against the par of each hole. In these circumstances this competition can be called a par competition instead.

The first recorded bogey competitions were played at Coventry Golf Club in 1891. But it was not until 1910 that the R&A framed the official rules for bogey competitions. The concept that on each hole you are rewarded on how you do against the course is one that Dr Frank Stableford took up when he devised the rules for an early version of the competition which now bears his name. Rule 32 of the Rules of Golf is titled ‘Bogey, Par And Stableford Competitions.’

Bogey competitions incorporated the central feature of match play - the winning or losing of individual holes - into a strokeplay competition. But the rules and penalties for a bogey competition are based upon those for strokeplay.

Just like in a Stableford competition, in a bogey competition the bogey score is adjusted for each hole according to each player’s individual handicap according to the stroke index for the hole. The winner of the competition is the golfer who has won the most net holes, calculated as holes won minus holes lost across all 18 holes.

Contributing Writer Golf courses and travel are Roderick’s particular interests and he was contributing editor for the first few years of the Golf Monthly Travel Supplement. He writes travel articles and general features for the magazine, travel supplement and website. He also compiles the magazine's crossword. He is a member of Trevose Golf & Country Club and has played golf in around two dozen countries. Cricket is his other main sporting love. He is the author of five books, four of which are still in print: The Novel Life of PG Wodehouse; The Don: Beyond Boundaries; Wally Hammond: Gentleman & Player and England’s Greatest Post-War All Rounder.