What does it mean in a golf tournament when "par is your partner"?
Golf Culture

What does it mean in a golf tournament when “par is your partner”?

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 13: Playing Captain Tiger Woods of the United States team and Justin Thomas of the United States team celebrate defeating Byeong-Hun An of South Korea and the International team and Hideki Matsuyama of Japan and the International team 1up on the 18th green during Friday foursome matches on day two of the 2019 Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne Golf Course on December 13, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Millions of golfers every year compete in fun outings, often for charity, played in a team format. It might be a scramble. It might be a pro-am. There could be a shamble. Maybe everyone plays out their own ball.

No matter the format or circumstances, many of these golfers will see on the tournament rules sheet or hear in the pre-tournament briefing from the host or head pro that "par is your partner." That phrase always leaves some golfers scratching their heads, wondering what that phrase actually means. And then they drive off, understanding it or not, and they play.

But you want to be an informed golfer who actually knows what's going on -- because, after all, knowing the rules could be the difference between winning and losing.

What does "par is your partner" mean?

The good news is that "par is your partner" is a turn of phrase that works for every golfer and every team competing in a golf tournament. It helps speed up play and keeps teams on a level playing field.

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Playing in a tournament where "par is your partner" means never having to make a team score worse than par. When "par is your partner," that means your team should stop playing a hole if they cannot make a score of birdie or better. At that point, the team's score is par for that hole, and they move on to the next hole.

Again, the idea of having "par as your partner" is to make sure the competition keeps moving along and that everyone is having fun. There's really not much of a good time to be had playing a golf tournament where you and your teammates are constantly putting to save par or bogey or worse. This way, players can focus on trying to play aggressively, make good scores and have a lot of fun.

When competing in formats like a scramble or shamble, the odds are in your favor that you'll be putting for birdie on every hole. Taking the comebacker for par out of the equation takes some of the fear out of competition and gives everyone a better chance to score well.

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