What Are Bogey Competitions In Golf?

Bogey competitions, which date from 1891, are a way of playing matchplay against the course

bogey competitions
One of the advantages of bogey competitions is that you can simply abandon a hole when the going gets too rough
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What are bogey competitions in golf?

In bogey competitions a player takes on the course itself in matchplay. The course scores bogey on each hole – bogey here is defined as in the original meaning of that word, the score that a good player should be expected to make on that hole. All 18 holes are played and the player’s score is the nett number of holes won (so, the nett score may be a minus figure).

Nowadays, only a few of the more traditional golf clubs are likely to have a bogey score and a par score listed on their scorecard. Bogey competitions may therefore, of necessity, be played against par instead. Or a club or competition organiser may simply devise a bogey scorecard specifically for the competition.

Sometimes, if played against par, this type of competition is known as a par competition instead. Scores in par competitions will be lower than in bogey competitions as the aggregate bogey score will normally be around 5-6 shots a round higher than the par one.

The concept of a bogey competition is therefore similar to that of the competition later devised by Dr Frank Stableford and which now bears his name, in that on each hole you are rewarded on how you do against the course. Just like in a Stableford competition, the par is adjusted for each hole according to a player’s course handicap and the stroke index of the hole.

According to the R&A, the first bogey competitions were played at Coventry Golf Club in 1891. Originally all golf competitions were played as matchplay ones, so played as a series of knockouts. Bogey competitions incorporated the central feature of matchplay - the winning or losing of individual holes - into a strokeplay competition.

As bogey and par competitions are played as strokeplay competitions, all the rules and penalties are the strokeplay ones. The winner of the competition is the player who wins the most nett holes.

Roderick Easdale

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.